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Review

Outlast Review

Exploring a dark and decrepit mental asylum... what could possibly go wrong?

Outlast is a truly terrifying ordeal – a horror of all horrors. As you tentatively pace through the darkness of Mount Massive Asylum you’ll feel completely powerless against the deranged and vicious patients that run riot within. With only a night vision camera to hand, your only choices are to either run, hide or… die.

You will have a hard time finding a game that embraces horror better than Outlast. Whilst it may not be the best looking game on the PlayStation 4, the dimly lit corridors, creaking floor boards and faint screams give rise to a horrifying nail biting atmosphere which is strangely enticing. As you’re peaking from behind the covers, one part of you wants the terror to be over but another part of you doesn’t want it to end.

In Outlast you play as a journalist eager to uncover the sinister secrets hidden behind closed doors at Mount Massive Asylum. As you might have guessed, you find out more than you bargained for and in no time at all you will desperately be trying to find your way out of the madhouse.

It’s never quite that easy and just as you think the end is near, catastrophe strikes, throwing you out of your depth once again and back into the unknown. Injured, scared and defenceless, Outlast will put you to the test both mentally and physically.

For the majority of Outlast you will be relying on the night vision feature on your camera to guide your through the pitch black corridors, sewers and courtyards of the asylum. As with many good horror games, you are never alone. Lingering in the darkness are the deranged patients, all hellbent on breaking your body in two.

These patients are hideous too – it’s clear that they have been poorly operated on. Their entire bodies have been subject to patchy skin grafts held in place by poor stitching, and many have even had their genitalia removed – quite a gruesome sight to behold. You can expect many more disgusting sights throughout the game, becoming a blood fest at times. It’s definitely not a game for the fainthearted.

You always have to remember that you are completely vulnerable and that there is no form of attack against these patients. All you can do is run or hide. Lockers, bathroom stalls and beds are your best friends in Outlast as you can actually feel a sense of security when cooped up in or under them. Only when you think the coast is clear should you emerge from your hiding place and get back to the task at hand.

Sometimes you may not be that lucky. One of the patients may catch a sense of your movement and come hurtling towards you with a meat cleaver in hand. Hiding is off the cards in these situations – all you can do is run for your life and hope you know where you are headed. A dead end could spell disaster. It is almost inevitable that your character’s head will be caved in with a baseball bat by your pursuer if your escape is blocked by a locked door.

outlast4

It’s just such a locked door that you must try survive long enough to open and escape through. The game will see you traverse through the main wards, sewers and courtyards of Mount Massive Asylum, in which you will encounter all sorts of problems and spooks along the way. Usually you will need to find or turn on a certain number of objects to progress through the level, be it water pumps, or generators. These areas are the most open parts of the game, and they are patrolled by the crazed inhabitants which you need to avoid.

There are plenty of different ways you can go to complete each objective, with multiple hiding spots to aid you as you progress. The first of these sections was easily one of my favourite parts of Outlast, but by the later stages you will find yourself following the same formula over and over again, and I found the repetitiveness detracting from the overall experience.

As previously mentioned, the asylum is pitch black in many areas. To counter this you have a night vision camera, which when raised takes over the whole screen with its HUD, but only allows you to see only a couple of feet in front of you. It’s not an ideal solution, nor is it effective one as over-use of the night vision feature drains the camera’s battery. You can find extra batteries on shelves and desks dotted around the asylum, but managing your battery count is a key part of your survival. Run out of batteries and you will soon find yourself helplessly wandering through the darkness – you never know what you might walk into.

This happened to me a few times during my experience with Outlast. On one occasion I misguidedly walked straight into one of my pursuers, we didn’t look too happy to see each other. Embarrassingly, I had to take some time out from the game after that as it spooked me just a little too much.

During my playthrough of Outlast on a lower difficulty there was an abundance of batteries, which did take the edge off the potential perils of walking around blind. On higher difficulties though, batteries do become more sparse adding a lot more tension to the whole experience where you will also be able to take less damage before you die.

Outlast_03

The soundtrack to Oultast is fantastic. It’s creepy and leaves you in suspense throughout. Often the music will build up as though something terrible is about to enfold only for nothing eventful to happen at all. It is when you least expect it that Outlast makes you jump off the edge of your seat – and it never fails in doing so. Even if the design and objectives of the game feel repeated the scares are often unpredictable.

The lightbar of the PlayStation 4 controller also weighs in as a method of immersing you into the game. The colour of the light switches depending on whether you are looking through night vision camera or if you are being attacked by a patient. If you’re not playing the game in the darkness of your living room you probably won’t even notice this, but it’s a nice touch that can add to the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, once you’ve completed Outlast, which should take around only five hours to do so, there isn’t a lot on offer to get you to return to the asylum. If you’re into collecting documents to help fill yourself in on the back-story then there are plenty hidden throughout the game which all give some insight into the world, but if that isn’t your sort of thing then the £14.99 price tag (though it is free at the moment with PlayStation Plus) may seem a bit high for the content on offer.

What’s Good:

  • Scary, creepy, frightening…
  • Unpredictable jumps.
  • Suspenseful soundtrack.

What’s Bad:

  • Becomes repetitive in the later stages.
  • Only a few hours long.
  • Particularly grotesque at times.

Outlast is one of, if not the scariest game I’ve played. It’s creepy, suspenseful and terrifying at times. It does lack variation in terms of the objectives you complete, but the unpredictable jumps and scares should be enough to maintain that nail-biting tension you will find yourself strangely craving for.

Just remember to turn off the lights and try not to cover your eyes, because you’re in for one hell of a ride.

Score: 8/10

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34 Comments
  1. CarBoyCam
    Member
    Since: Sep 2009

    The first ‘surprise’ I came across in this as I entered a dark area… Yeah… I screamed… A lot. :P This game is terrifying with a decent set of headphones on! I’m yet to get any further on from that surprise because I’m a wuss.

    Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 09:10.
    • hannes_truce
      Member
      Since: Sep 2008

      Same here. Close to expunging it from my HDD because it’s very presence frightens me.

      Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 09:49.
      • DividSmythe
        Member
        Since: May 2012

        I was also very close to deleting it myself too. Scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. I got halfway down the first hall and that was it.

        Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 10:06.
    • mason
      Member
      Since: Sep 2013

      It took three of my friend watching me play for me to make any real progress in this game, but it is definitely worth the scares!

      Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 15:58.
  2. Taylor Made
    Member
    Since: Oct 2011

    Without sounding like a right douche, It’s not a triple AAA, many indie games are not long so why is it being short a bad thing?

    Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 09:16.
    • Eldaveo
      Member
      Since: Oct 2013

      I don’t think its the game’s length that is the real issue, its the fact that once you’ve played through it the suspense has gone and you’re unlikely to play it a second time.
      A lot of indie titles may only be a couple of hours long but their replay value is much higher by comparison.

      …at least, that was my interpretation, lol.

      Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 09:29.
      • Youles
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        Yeah, and I guess that’s a reflection of the genre rather than the game itself – hard to surprise someone when they know what to expect! :)

        Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 09:32.
  3. gaffers101
    Member
    Since: Oct 2008

    I played this again last night. Played in the dark with surround sound the atmosphere is really creepy.
    One disappointment was walking into a room with three of the inmates staring at a blank TV, they completely ignored me. I was able to wander right up to them with no reaction – that killed the suspense quite a bit.

    Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 09:46.
    • hannes_truce
      Member
      Since: Sep 2008

      I’m pretty sure that’s an intentional part of the game, the character even makes a note of them sitting there staring…

      Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 09:51.
      • gaffers101
        Member
        Since: Oct 2008

        Cheers, I must have missed that, thought it was a bit strange.

        Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 10:21.
      • Stefan L
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        Yep. Point the video camera at them and you get a note which explains a bit. :)

        Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 11:12.
      • MrYd
        Member
        Since: Mar 2011

        There’s a few points in the game like that. Once it’s got you nice and terrified, and you just KNOW something bad is going to happen, it doesn’t.

        Isn’t that TV room the room with the wheelchair outside? Where nothing happens as you walk past? And nothing happens with the people watching TV? And then you come back through that same bit later, thinking you’ll still be safe from anything that may require a change of pants?

        There’s another bit quite late in the game where you lose the camera and have to try and find it in the dark. The end of that section caused some loud noises and running around in a panic here.

        The game does rely on some cheap jump scares at times. All quiet and then suddenly there’s something right in your face and some loud noise. And if it was just that, it would get old very quickly. But it’s not just that. There’s a horrible creepy atmosphere, and it’s very good at manipulating you. It makes you feel (relatively) safe when you shouldn’t, and quite terrified when absolutely nothing bad is going to happen. Yet.

        Needs to be played in the dark, with loud surround sound though.

        Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 11:12.
    • Andrewww
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      For me this didn’t kill the suspense, in the contrary. Because you don’t know they don’t react, so you approach this very slowly, at least I did. I even passed them crawling the second time I had to do this. And the sound effect there is especially good.

      Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 11:25.
      • gaffers101
        Member
        Since: Oct 2008

        I thought my game was bugged when they just sat there. Luckily I saved just outside the door so I’ll go back and do that bit again. In the dark obviously!!!!!!

        Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 11:29.
  4. CharlseY
    Member
    Since: Mar 2012

    I played it in the dark with headphones on to immerse myself only for the missis to think its funny and touch my on my shoulder as I’m creeping around. Nearly made a mess in my pants

    Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 10:11.
  5. Andrewww
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    Absolutely love this one, even though I’m not too much into gory stuff usually. The atmosphere is so good, especially in the beginning. But I approached the scary situations much slower, am never through in 5 hours, enjoying this much longer… :o)
    Love PS plus for this..!

    Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 10:48.
  6. rept0n
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    Great game – has the same unsettled feeling that some of the Silent Hill games gave. I’m really hoping that the new Alien Isolation game captures this sort of unease – add to that an almost sentient AI and you’ve got one hell of a game.
    That would be my only criticism of Outlast is that far too much of it is scripted.

    Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 11:21.
  7. ArrebatoTarugo
    Member
    Since: Jul 2013

    Absolutely love this game. I haven’t finished so I can’t argue about being short or repetitive, but I was truly frightened. Best couple of hours of gaming in a while so far. I need to feel strong again to play it alone in the dark…

    Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 11:48.
  8. Andrewww
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    And I strongly disagree about the price tag being too high. Downloading movies is legal in my country, so I usually don’t pay for those. But most of the ones I’ve seen recently would have been more expensive for much less fun.
    I rarely buy DLC, I have to admit, but for this I definitely will.

    Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 12:09.
    • matthangzhou
      Member
      Since: Sep 2010

      Which country is that?

      Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 17:06.
      • Andrewww
        Member
        Since: Jan 2010

        Switzerland… :o)
        Movies and Music, as long as you don’t upload. But not Software & Games.

        Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 17:16.
      • matthangzhou
        Member
        Since: Sep 2010

        Right. Booking my flights.

        Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 18:06.
      • Andrewww
        Member
        Since: Jan 2010

        :o)

        Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 18:34.
  9. tatoemonkey
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    Only just into the building the first ‘surprise’ made me jump out of my seat a bit but it was the kind of jump that makes you laugh at yourself the other few things before the ducting didn’t really bother me that much but I am through into the landing looking area now and had to save it there had errends to run so hopefully back on it tonight but I think the so called scary guys look cute maybe this is my girl way of looking at it but I feel more sorry for them than scared of them.

    Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 12:12.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      You’re looking for the ‘Hug’ button, aren’t you?

      Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 12:38.
      • tatoemonkey
        Member
        Since: Apr 2009

        Maybe :)

        I am also looking for the battery vending machine – suggested DLC :)

        Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 20:40.
  10. Nylon_Angel
    Member
    Since: Jul 2010

    Not a game to play alone at night with no lights on…

    Comment posted on 12/02/2014 at 12:58.
    • RudeAwakening
      Member
      Since: Jan 2011

      This is the only way I play it, also with the surround sound turned up! :)

      Have to admit I have nearly dropped the DS4 twice due to been scared shitless (pardon my french) by something ( i won’t say due to spoilers)and last night while in the basement part i completely forgot all buttons to control my character due to been caught by surprise which inevitably lead to my painful pummeling by a wrench or bat or something…it was dark!

      To not play a horror game or watch a horror film in the dark is not given said game/film any justice to do what it’s aiming to do which is obviously to scare you. They don’t have the same effect in broad daylight. IMHO. :)

      Comment posted on 13/02/2014 at 16:39.

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