Jesus fucking Christ! There goes another pair… Outlast – a survival horror game from Red Barrels (Montreal) – is so damn scary that you’ll need a whole drawer full of clean undercrackers to get through it. I think I shit four pairs during the introduction alone… I’m joking, of course (or am I?).
Outlast is a modern, first-person survival horror game with slick controls and a variety of scary tricks up its sleeve. Since the first part of the game involves escaping a murderous insane asylum the whole look and feel of it reminds me of the chilling Manhunt by Rockstar North, but with a much more agile central character at your disposal. The opening involves some jumping, climbing, crawling, squeezing through gaps, and running around, and the tension builds for a few minutes. Then, all of a sudden, you’re being thrown off a balcony and waking up in shit central. There are asylum patients around, and none can be trusted.
Outlast throws some cheap thrills at you initially, and they alone are more than capable of making you jump, but it doesn’t take long before the game really puts you in danger and gets you sweating. You’ll spend a fair bit of time running in terror – usually away from something that wants kill you – so it’s handy that (by pressing the ‘peek’ keys) you can look over your shoulder while you’re legging it. This doesn’t really help stay alive, but does give you a good view of something catching up on you before it kills you.
What I love about Outlast is that the main character you control is so fast and agile. And that the controls are so seamless that you don’t have to worry too much about positioning yourself to climb, or to pick something up. It’s not like Resident Evil, where walking and picking up objects is so rigid and unforgiving that it gets in the way of the speed of play. Outlast’s controls at least allow you to concentrate on survival.
As a modern, survival horror game: there is little better out there at the moment, that I have played, although Outlast is by no means original or outstanding in terms of story and setting. In terms of scares, deaths, dying and general gaming terror: it is right up there. I would like to see this engine and control system used again in something meatier, which may happen next year because a sequel to this game has been announced for then. I await that with interest, but am still trying to weigh-up whether completing Outlast now is worth it in terms of experience versus soiling clean underwear. I’d say that it is, though my washing machine may argue otherwise.