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Video Game Review: “Outlast”

    In continuing the first day of October, (which started with my review of Resident Evil: The Director’s Cut) I shall be bestowing upon you a review for the ages, one of such serene tranquility that you might shat thy pants at the very sight. Fellas, this is Outlast for the PlayStation 4.

     For those that don’t know, and quite honestly, who could blame you, Outlast is a video game developed and published by Red Barrels. Uh-huh, uh-huh, Red Barrels, yes, I am a big fan of their work. If you are like me, you probably have absolutely no idea who they are. A proper Google Search will help remedy the dilemma pitched in-front of us. Lo and behold, Red Barrels is a company founded by people that previously worked on Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell, and Uncharted. Well, fuck, that’s pretty damn good. I love Prince of Persia and Uncharted, and really enjoyed the second Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell: Conviction.

     However, it isn’t really fair to say that you might like this game if you liked those, after all, this doesn’t look anything at all like any of them. Outlast is a a stealth survival horror that has been credited heavily for its realism. A lot of this is thanks to the fact that the company actually had access to experts in various sciences to help give the non-player characters a depth beyond the same ol’ cookie-cutter appearances. The video-game received mostly positive reviews from critics but that doesn’t really mean anything at all because I haven’t reviewed it. And encase you haven’t figured out yet, Nikolai McCon decides whether a game is good or not.

     Narcissism aside, along with a bizarre infatuation with trying to make my name sound Russian, Outlast has a lot of things going for it. I think that one of the most appealing factors is that there are so few of these kinds of games on home-console. I think that survival-horror is one of the greatest video-game genres around, but it’s a dying breed. Resident Evil has made the transition over to action, Silent Hill hasn’t really found its footing since its early releases on the PlayStation 2, and they adamantly refuse to give me the Condemned 3 that I desperately want. There’s also Dead Space and Bio Shock, but while Bio Shock: Infinite is amazing, it has since left a lot of its demented roots, and Dead Space remains one of the select few that carries the genre.

    Stealth survival-horror is practically non-existent if you don’t own a computer. Computers have Amnesia, Penumbra, Slender, and about a million others on the same order, so it’s kind-of refreshing for me to see Outlast available on the PlayStation 4.

    In the game, you play as Miles Upshur, a freelance journalist that receives information about an asylum owned and operated by the Murkoff corporation, called Mount Massive Asylum. He finds entry into the asylum and discovers clues and uncovers haunting secrets about the asylum. He gets his ass kicked, and at moments, it actually was able to legitimately induce fear, at least for me.

   I have become mostly numb to most things horror, I love horror movies, and I love the games, but I wouldn’t lie if I didn’t flinch once or twice while playing the game. Unfortunately, a lot of this is jump-scares and not being overwhelmed by the story’s intricacies.

     In-fact, the reality is that the story doesn’t offer a whole lot, there are diary-entries and pieces that can be woven together for a coherent narrative, but ultimately, it isn’t anything that really lives up to the mystique about the asylum. The graphics and scenery aren’t brilliant, I actually found myself backtracking because some things look so much alike that it is easy to get lost. However, at first glance, the dreary and desolate atmosphere easily exceed expectations. It looks dark and menacing, just not with the utmost variation, and there’s a novelty that lasts well into the experience.

     Unlike other first-person survival-horrors like Condemned, it isn’t about defending yourself against enemies. You don’t fight in Outlast. You survive.

     It’s an interesting premise and for a little while, there is a lot of entertainment in it. I liked hiding in the lockers or under the beds, but like the scenery, upon closer inspection, I found that it was missing the level of depth that I wanted.

     I beat Outlast in one-sitting, and it took me around five or six hours, which would be short if I had bought this game new at a store for sixty bucks. However, I downloaded it off the network for free. So, I’ll give it a pass in that department.

   In conclusion, there are a lot of criticisms to be had about Outlast. There isn’t a lot of challenge or sophistication with the game-play, and there isn’t a lot of depth when it comes to the graphics and the story. However, I was entertained for the experience, and even at some points, immersed in the video-game. I didn’t fall in love with it, but it still carries a lot that made me love the survival-horror genre of video-games.

Rating: – 3.1 out of 5.0

Written by Nicholas "Nick" McConnaughay

Nicholas McConnaughay is a writer of books and a connoisseur in the fine art of storytelling. He spent his formative years binging slasher films like Child's Play and A Nightmare on Elm Street, and blames that for some of his quirkier tendencies.

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