There’s a reason that mental institutions are such a go-to location for horror stories: crazy people frighten us, and our own madness frightens us, so what better place to combine the two than in a institution where insanity lives? To exemplify this trend, there are three upcoming indie survival horror titles that are all set in psychiatric hospitals: Senscape Interactive’s Asylum, Psychoz Interactive’s Forgotten Memories for the Wii U, and Red Barrels Games’ Outlast. If you’re strapped for cash, free-to-play survival horror game Mental is also available for download right now.
Of the games mentioned above, Outlast probably has the most amount of hype going for it, since the game received a lot of praise for the demo that was unleashed at E3. A press release on the official site for Red Barrels Games has just announced that Outlast will be available for digital download on Steam from September 4th, 2013, at the price of $19.99.
The game is approximately five hours long, according to estimates given by the developers at E3 this year, and following its PC release it will also come to PlayStation 4 some time in 2014. You can watch the trailer for Outlast above.
The teasers so far are certainly interesting, showing a distinct influence from first-person survival horror games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Slender, but it’s hard to tell whether Outlast will match those games in terms of scariness. When truly attempting to make the player quake in their shoes, it’s often best to keep the monster hidden as much as possible, since what you don’t see is often scarier than what you do see. The sanity meter mechanic in Amnesia, for example, more or less forces the player to keep their eyes off of the creature that pursues them as much as possible.
Outlast looks well-equipped to keep its horrors hidden – with vision restricted by the shadowy environment and forced use of a night vision camera mode with limited visibility, which is why it’s a little disappointing to see the enemy shove its ugly mug right up into the screen, leaving nothing to the imagination. In the IGN demo video above, however, Red Barrel’s co-founder Philippe Morin promises that the game will have a balanced mix of quiet, tense sections and action-packed scenes, which is quite promising.
Criticisms out of the way, let’s look at the things that Outlast has going for it. The main character is a reporter who receives an anonymous tip advising him to check out a derelict insane asylum where something fishy is apparently going down. Since all journalists are naturally weak and spindly, there is no combat in the game, meaning that if something comes after you the only options are to run, hide or die. No comforting grenade launchers or shotguns here – just the constant awareness of your own vulnerability. The idea of being reliant on a camera – with ever-dwindling battery life – to survive also brings the pressure that usually comes from limited ammo and health kit drops, and lends a great found-footage aesthetic to the game.
Outlast would have to beat out some heavy contenders before it could claim the title of “scariest game ever,” but does this survival horror game look like it’s worth a download? Let us know what you think of the game footage so far in the comments.
Outlast is availably for download on Steam from September 4, 2013. It will be made available for PS4 in 2014.