Time to scare your pants off

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We couldn’t find someone playing the game, but here, have a soldier on an iPad.

We couldn’t find someone playing the game, but here, have a soldier on an iPad.

Go play Outcast to see what we mean

Article: Koby Schwab – Contributor

The survival horror genre has been through a lot these past few years. Once proud franchises like Silent Hill and Resident Evil, and promising new series like Dead Space have gradually alienated most of their target audience by moving emphasis from a tense, horrific atmosphere to plasma rifles and grenade launchers. It’s hard to feel like you’re in any immediate danger when you and your chums are all armed to the teeth.

But there has been a silver lining to the black cloud that is survival horror: the rise of independent horror games, such as Amnesia and Penumbra. But if Lovecraftian horror or clunky interfaces aren’t your thing, consider playing Outlast.

Outlast has been out for a while now on PC and has been played to death on YouTube, but it has recently seen release on Playstation 4, so I figured now is a good time to recommend a game that people may have missed it the first time around.

In Outlast you play as Miles Upsher, an investigative journalist sent on an assignment to uncover some dirty, corporate secrets at Mount Massive Asylum. Using only his handheld camcorder, Miles plans to uproot a corrupt pharmaceutical company that has been doing morally questionable things all over the globe, but his plan quickly goes awry when he finds rooms full of dead bodies and butchered S.W.A.T. Teams.

The following romp around the asylum has Miles finding documents, recording events, and helping shady characters that begin to reveal what happened to the asylum and its patients. But the cults, characters, and Supernatural twists are all subordinate to the gameplay.

There’s no gun, no wrench, no knife, the only weapon Miles has is survival. He can’t fight back against the mutilated patients. All he can do is run and hide. This focus on stealth as opposed to combat has been the central mechanic of most successful horror games as of late and is implemented well here.

The setting is dark and disturbing, the antagonists are scary and formidable, and the only source of light you have is the night vision function on the camcorder. The dwindling supply of batteries forces you to keep a sharp eye out, but also urges you to push forward in order to conserve power. What do you do when you run out of batteries? I have no idea, I’ve been too scared to find out.

Overall, Outlast is a survival horror game worthy of praise. It’s a truly terrifying game, even though it often sacrifices its fantastic atmosphere for cheap jump-scares. The focus on stealth as opposed to shooty action is refreshing, and the story is as involving as you want it be (although it’s a little convoluted from the middle on).

It’s gorgeous, imperfect, and scary as all hell, which is all I’ve ever really wanted from a survival horror game. If you’re feeling up to it, put on your headphones, turn off the lights, and revert to the fetal position with Outlast.

Image: Mike O’Neill

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