Hi, my name is Jamie and I will be your reviewer for today… well, almost every day, hopefully. I love gaming, and have done so from the very early age of four, when my brother introduced me to Driver on the PSOne. I then picked up a PS2, a PS3, a PS4, and a PS Vita, so it’s fair to say that I have been a part of the PlayStation family for quite some time now.
Anyway, without further ado, let’s get into the review!
Outlast, created by Red Barrels, places you in the shoes of Miles Upshur, an independent investigative reporter, who has received an anonymous tip-off that the owners of the isolated Mount Massive Asylum, the mysterious Murkoff Corporation, are committing atrocities and messing with the paranormal. So, being the mastermind you are, you decide to break in to the asylum, armed only with a camcorder, a pair of legs and stamina.
Your first encounters with the residents of the beautiful, blood-stained asylum are jumpy and frightening, but for all the right reasons. Yes, jump-scares exist, but they are carefully thought and planned out, with those evil creators knowing exactly how to make your heart rate triple, and not just thrown in because they wanted to go to lunch. A simple TV static noise almost made me break my chair, with a door closing forcing me to pause the game in an attempt to regain my composure. A door closing. That’s all it took.
After the first ten minutes, the game opens up a little bit. However, it still remains linear, although it is nice to be offered multiple pathways, even if it is simply an illusion of choice. Unfortunately, this is the game’s biggest downfall. Despite the asylum’s truly huge scale, the game restricts you to narrow corridors and conveniently man-sized vents for the majority of the game, with it occasionally letting you go for walkies in dark, expansive, outside areas. It’s in places like these that the game’s second-biggest downfall becomes apparent. Throughout the game, you are forced to use your camera’s handy night-vision mode to navigate the asylum’s darker sections, and in order for this mode to work, you need batteries. To find batteries, you must go slightly further out of your way by, for example, exploring an extra room. However, batteries are extremely hard to find and night-vision sucks them dry in a matter of a minute or so, which makes it incredibly annoying when it comes to the aforementioned dark, expansive, outside areas, and you’re stranded in complete and utter darkness. With no other option, you can only follow the walls, looking for that much-needed doorway or gap in a fence.
However, these moments are occasional and overshadowed almost completely by the game’s creepy atmosphere and truly unpredictable nature. The music alone is sinister enough, without any need for blood-splattered walls and headless bodies. The previously mentioned night-vision mode douses everything in darkness in a healthy shade of green, making you acutely aware of the fact that the darkness still exists behind the camera screen. Then you have the enemies which, apart from one or two, are utterly unpredictable. You can walk past one of the asylum’s many deformed inhabitants wielding a knife benignly, but then a minute later, he decides he would like his knife to meet your face. This constantly has you on edge as enemy behaviour patterns are almost never the same… not altogether unusual in an asylum! There is one huge brute that you should fear more than any other, however: a “man” called Walker. The simple sound of his heavy footsteps or the clanging of his metal chains is enough to send anyone’s sweat pores into overdrive, much to the protest of your beautiful DualShock 4 controller. This feeling is only increased when you remember (for the ninetieth time) that are you a mere reporter, and that you don’t have a shotgun, or even a lowly brick to defend yourself with if attacked (which you will be). You come to the realisation that your only option is to run and hide in a locker or under a bed.
This is scary enough, but go ahead and throw in some of the best graphics ever seen in a horror game, and you really do have a problem. One that requires immediate access to a toilet. Trees sway in the breeze, lights swing from ceilings, casting shadows all over the walls. Red Barrels have evidently done a lot of work to ensure that you, as the player, are immersed in this game in every possible way. This is reflected in, if nowhere else, Outlast’s visuals.
As you may be aware, Outlast was first released on PC, via Steam, last year in September. So, if you’re like me and you picked it up on Steam, some of the scares have already been spoilt for you in the PS4 version. With this in mind, it would have been nice if Red Barrels had included an extra section or two to replace those you have already completed. There is a possibility of a patch, as there always is, but don’t hold your breath.
Overall, Outlast is a wonderfully paced game, full of scares, that is worthy to sit alongside other horror classics such as Dead Space and Resident Evil, as one of the greatest horror titles released on a console. It is a shame, then, that minor problems hold it back from reaching the heights it had the potential to. Still, if you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber (which you should be, if not already), it’s free! What are you complaining about?
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