Outlast has been praised by critics and players alike as a great horror title, brought to us by Red Barrels as an independent project in 2013 with prequel DLC (known as The Whistleblower) not long after and a full-length sequel in 2017.
Having played the game myself rather recently (yes, I know, I'm way behind), I decided to do my own review of the game and what I think of it as a horror-survival game as a whole. I will not be talking about any spoilers for those of you for may wish to play this game after reading my review, so don't worry about reading it. I will be looking at this particular horror title under what I call the Pentagram of Horror Games, which are five essential things that must come into making a good horror game in my opinion.
First is Gameplay. Without good gameplay, no game would ever survive its release to the public. Many potentially great titles have failed due to this alone, so I will be looking at this one first.
From what I saw, it was quite smooth. I played the PS4 port of the game, and the controls were quite easy to learn. The only reason I forgot certain button controls was because due to real life getting in the way (damn it all!) I would pick up the game once every couple of days to continue. The puzzles are not too tricky as to become frustrating and the map layout for each area is pretty good. However, there were spots where I got lost rather easily, but it could have just been me panicking like a child as I was running away from baddies. Also, the AI of the enemies can be a total pain in the ass! I remember having to wait and wait and wait for a certain enemy to walk away, only to see them come back where I was hiding and then having to wait again! But where it shines in the horror factor is the fact that you CANNOT FIGHT BACK! That's right: you cannot fight off your assailants, but must run and hide in order to survive, giving this game an edge few other horror games give.
Next on the Pentagram of Horror Games is Voice-Acting.
There are only a few notable characters in the game; namely, Miles Upshore the investigative journalist (your character you play), the crazy priest Father Martin, a hulking monster of a man named Chris Walker, a pair of large always-naked males (unnamed), a former member of the staff of Mount Massive Asylum named Dr. Trager, the man who started it all Dr. Wernicke, and the Walrider. As such, there are not very many voice-actors, but for the few there are they do a fantastic job of it!
The next thing we shall examine in our Pentagram of Horror Games is Story.
The story is that an investigative journalist, Miles Upshore, is looking into a mysterious asylum called Mount Massive. Why? Because he received a message from a whistleblower (hence the prequel DLC) telling him that there are all sorts of messed-up things going on in that horrible place that must be exposed to the public. In truth, the story is a bit of a mess. Sure, it is supposed to be mysterious, but if you don't take the time to find and read all of the many documents strewn throughout the place as you investigate, you will be completely lost as to what's going on. Also, I had a real big issue with Miles' notes and thoughts that you can view. They kind of make him seem a lot more nonchalant about all the insane things he's witnessing and experiencing throughout the game than anyone would truly believe, which breaks immersion quite a bit.
Now, my friends, is the fourth part of the Pentagram of Horror Games: Graphics.
The graphics are okay. They are really good for an independent company (and some triple-A companies), but still has some glitches. Gladly, though, those glitches don't ruin the experience. Plus, there is a certain feature of the game that comes into play, and that's the nightvision in Miles' camera that you must record everything in your experience on. That just adds to the total creep factor of the game and makes this the unique game that many recall this as.
The last thing we shall look at in our Pentagram of Horror Games is the most important: the Scare Factor.
This game is creepy as hell, but there is nothing here that I would truly say is scary. Most of the scares are done in well-executed jumpscares. However, I will say this: you will not be ready for some of the disturbing images that this game throws at you which grant it the CERTIFIED CREEPY that I give this title. Also, the chase scenes get me really pumped up and excited, making me white-knuckle my controller as I try to evade Chris Walker or the two naked guys. Out of a possible 10, I give the total Scare Factor from 7 to 8.
And here is where I give my final grade on the game. Overall, this game is a horror title that I would gladly recommend to everyone, despite its flaws that I see in storytelling. This is definitely a game that you should take your time and look through all the different areas to make sure you get the full experience. However, the flaws I've mentioned it do break immersion now and then.
OVERALL GRADE: B+, with a CERTIFIED CREEPY!