Welcome to our regular gameplay impressions and video post where we record our first 10-30 minutes with a new game, and provide some general impressions on that early playthrough. Today’s game is: Outlast from developer Red Barrels.
Outlast is a survival horror title in the vein of Amnesia, in that killing is not the primary mode of survival. Instead, as protagonist Miles Upshur, players must do their best to avoid the inmates of Mount Massive Asylum without actively confronting them.
From the first minute, Outlast sets a tone and establishes a sense of place in the best way possible. To say that even the simple act of walking forward had me on edge is the highest compliment I can pay toward the game.
However, what makes the game really unique is its video camera mechanic. In place of a traditional flashlight, Outlast uses a video camera and its night vision capabilities to help players navigate dark corridors and creaky basements. It’s not a better or scarier alternative to a flashlight, but a clever one nonetheless.
As far as the gameplay goes, Outlast is pretty straight forward – at least during these first 30+ minutes. Players move from point A to point B with some deviation in between for unlocking doors, pressing buttons, or gathering key cards.
That doesn’t undermine the razor sharp tension that exists at nearly every moment, though, but players looking for something a little more original might find Miles’ quest a little rudimentary. That is, of course, speaking from a first impression perspective, and is not necessarily indicative of what might be available as the game progresses.
That said, Outlast ramps up fast. It didn’t take long before the nonchalant fashion with which I opened doors in the early minutes, gave way to a frantic “slam the door open and get me to safety” mentality. From the sound design to the visuals, everything serves to remind the player that they are never safe, that a jump scare could be right around the corner, and that’s what survival horror is all about. Sometimes the tension is in service of a false positive, while other times the fear is justified, as something grabs ahold of Miles and sends the player sky high out of their seat.
There’s no better way to commend a survival horror title like Outlast than to say it will put the player on edge and never let go. I want to play more, but likely in short bursts so I can take some time to catch my breath.
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What do you think of Outlast? Have you had a chance to play the game? Let us know in the comments below.