Insane asylums are scary, at least if film and games have anything to say about it. When unhinged, our fellow-man can be one of the most terrifying creatures on this planet. Make it more than just one man and fill a building with them, then you get Outlast.
“You are Miles Upshur, an investigative reporter whose ambition is about to earn him an intimate tour of hell on earth.”
Welcome to Mount Massive Asylum, a facility with more than its fair share of corruption and secrets. Of course, despite the apparent shady reputation of the company that owns it, our main character Miles Upshur decides to break in to try to dig up this corruption after being tipped off by an anonymous employee. In a rotten turn of luck when it’s too late to turn back, you discover the inmates have escaped their cells and are roaming free in the asylum. Delving deeper, reading documents and filming everything you see, you discover more about the sinister inner workings of what went on there.
The story of Outlast is pretty interesting, if you take the time between scares to piece it together. Documents, secrets, conspiracies, experiments left behind by the Murkoff Corporation, and much more tell a gripping story, if you don’t lose track of it while you’re being chased down hallways and into hiding places.
Outlast is a proper horror game, through and through. Most of the enemies are not normally inherently frightening by their appearance, but it comes down to how they behave that can be rather scary. They’re rather smart, which can be deadly for you.
You cannot fight, you can only run and hide. As you move about the hallways, rooms, and courtyards of the asylum, you’re armed only with a camera that has night vision capabilities. You run, you hide, you try to evade. Some places are too dark to traverse without the primary feature of your camcorder, and using the night vision uses up batteries: a limited resource that can only be replenished by moving forward and finding them in sometimes hidden places. Navigating the asylum isn’t usually difficult, even given the sometimes pitch black environments, and just enough lockers to hide in or beds to duck under are sprinkled throughout necessary areas to hide in and cower from deadly patients.
There are four separate difficulties, Normal, Hard, Nightmare, and Insane. Normal to Nightmare, the enemies get stronger and smarter and your allowance for batteries gets shorter and shorter. Insane is the same as Nightmare, only that if you die, the game ends—no continues, permadeath style. Harder difficulties can be tense but frustrating at times, as batteries are rarer and sometimes checkpoints can wind up putting you back farther than what you want to deal with again. Once more, in Insane mode, enemies are ridiculously smart, hit harder and while you do regenerate health, can be quite frustrating obstacles.
For what little you’ll get to see not through the lens of the camera’s night vision effect, Outlast is a game that is, while not too revolutionary, very good-looking. Low lighting keeps things grim, decapitations, dead bodies, blood puddles, and all other manner of viscera are at the top of their game, which is good, because you see a lot of it. Some of Outlast’s horror comes from the sheer magnitude of violence you either witness or see the remains of. It sends the player a clear message: Mount Massive Asylum is not a very safe place, to put it lightly.
The night vision effect is truly incredible, potentially being one of the best camera effects in any game as of 2013. While as impressive as it is, you’ll see a lot of the color green as you’ll have to navigate hallways in which the only way to see in the dark is with the use of the camera’s sole feature. The game doesn’t suffer from this very much, only that some detailed environments never get to be seen in all their glory, only through the lens of your camera.
Any horror game worth its salt has excellent sound design, and Outlast has it in spades. Every step, every hit, every body that falls and hits the ground, every blade that stabs, every shout from an inmate, every grunt from Miles as he jumps or climbs, or when you hear him breathing heavily after an encounter or a terrible sight… even the light and soft buzzing noise coming from your camera as you zoom in work wonders at setting a clear and dreadful tone. The faint yells and ramblings of asylum inmates can often be heard throughout many places in the asylum, giving the sense that there’s always some level of chaos somewhere else even if things have calmed down for you.
The music queues in at all the right times with just the right spine tingling score, excellently accompanying anything that can be happening in the game. Maybe you’re being pursued, possibly you’re hiding, it could be you’re witnessing something terrible, or perhaps you’re seeing a room that’s entirely engulfed in flames—whatever is going on, Outlast never fails to provide the right instrumental score to set just the right mood
Unfortunately, being a linear horror game with only so many side objectives and difficulty settings, Outlast is not a very replayable game. You may pick this up a year or two after playing it the first time, but it’s not something you’ll likely immediately jump back into straight after beating it.
Outlast is a bloody terrifying experience that warrants any play by horror lovers and the squeamish alike. A good underlying story and unexpected turns abound, this is a fine game.
- Storyline – 85%
- Gameplay – 90%
- Graphics – 85%
- Sound – 95%
- Replayability – 60%
Final Verdict – 83%
Undoubtedly one of the best horror games you’ll ever play, Outlast is worth a purchase on any platform. You can buy it on Steam, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. We highly recommend you visit this game, and with Outlast 2 on the horizon there’s no better time than now to pick it up give it a playthrough.