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If there’s one game that you should play five minutes and then never pick it up again, it’s Red Barrels‘ Outlast. I mean that in the best way possible: Seldom does a game damage you psychologically, the way Outlast will. It’s like going on an adrenaline-fueled, sprint-paced tour of a monster-infested mansion. Shambling, rattling things scratch at your back and there’s nothing you can do to defend yourself other than run – run until your lungs and knees bleed.
I would recommend Outlast to those who like:
- Low-cost games ($20);
- Short, but intense, survival horror;
- Graphic, violent content;
- Paris Hilton style videography.
In Outlast, you play as a journalist investigating a whistleblower’s tip. The place of your investigation: Murkoff’s Mount Massive Asylum – a tongue-in-cheek pseudo-portmanteau of the pharmaceutical company “Merck” and an H.P. Lovecraft reference to the book, “At the Mountains of Madness“.
Equipped with your trusty night vision-equipped video camera, you descend into what may be one of the most terrifying games of 2013.
Best of all, we are giving away three terrifying copies of the game through steam to three lucky winners. Keep reading to bottom to find out how to take home a copy for yourself!
What is Outlast Like?
It’s so scary, in fact, that Outlast may be a game you’ll buy, play for ten minutes and then never pick up again. In truth, I would not have returned to the game had it not been for getting paid and colossal student debt, which makes even the most cowardly among us, blood-thirsty fighters. But don’t think this game will let you do anything but run. Run for your life.
There’s an absence of a combat system – you don’t engage enemies, survival hinges on stealth and cunning. Although, in truth, the majority of the game involves fleeing in blind terror. Fortunately, the denizens of Murkoff Mountain lose their concentration very quickly, oftentimes chasing you in to a dead end then deciding to focus their naked rage elsewhere. Or throwing ill-timed club attacks that either catch air or do minor damage, which you regenerate from rather quickly. Had I known that journalism would confer Wolverine-like powers, I would have studied harder in school.
What’s So Good About Outlast?
As a classic within the survival horror genre, I have a lot of good things to say about Outlast. Primarily, its gameplay.
- Hide and seek in the dark: Outlast feels a lot like hide and seek, in the dark – Paris Hilton style. You’re probably bored with that metaphor, so I’ll elaborate — your camera includes night vision, which gives the active display a green tint. This causes a great deal of battery drain. Fortunately, batteries are casually strewn all about the Murkoff Mountains facility. Much of the game involves dodging enemies, finding batteries and trying to find a way out of Mount Massive.
- Dark environments: As stated previously, if you don’t like dark environments, or turning your gamma settings up all the way, you won’t like Outlast. The vast majority of the game steeps itself in blackness. And it’s terrifying.
- Great controls: The controls in feel smooth and intuitive. The tutorial only requires some basic explanation , but after that, you are pretty versed in everything you will ever need to do throughout Outlast.
- Great music and sound effects: The music feels less like a game and more like a film. A really terrifying film. The sound effects are truly rattling. Heavy breathing will haunt your every step. Is it your own? Or some grinning, naked fiend just behind you?
- Runner on rails: Outlast will have you run through what feels like endless, bloodied corridors. Run the wrong way and you’ll face death by maniac. Run the right way and you’ll live. Although it feels unscripted and completely spontaneous, Outlast rehashes the same formula throughout its four (or more) hours of gameplay: It’s a highly scripted “runner” on rails. You won’t have much time to think about that, though, as you will be running for your life.
Sad to say, nothing is perfect. While a great game, Outlast uses a great deal of cheap jump scares, it lacks replayability, and sometimes feels repetitive. These issues don’t ruin the game, since you won’t have time to mull over its short comings because of the maniac at your heels.
- Too intense: It’s hard admitting this, but some games might be better off shorter, rather than longer. Outlast is just too intense for long play periods. I found myself getting motion sick, and my jaw ached from all the gritting. There are literally bodies strewn all over the place in grotesque tableau.
- Cheap jump scares: Few moments in Outlast were truly horrifying – such as found in Silent Hill or the Forbidden Siren games. The vast majority of fright comes from running from monster to monster. The horrifying portions of the game have almost nothing to do with its story. The few times you will feel horrified isn’t from a compelling narrative – it’s from things jumping out at you. The game felt a bit like One Late Night, in this respect.
- Water level: Like most torture porn games, Outlast features a water level. We know very well that water levels can ruin some games. GamesRadar wrote an article on the subject, which discussed the top seven worst water levels of all time. I would rank Outlast’s water level much lower, fortunately. For me the worst experience involved a four-foot, flooded ledge that I couldn’t climb, which was frustrating.
- Low replayability: Outlast, ironically, doesn’t last for very long. The game provides anywhere between 4 and 10 hours of game time – although you will be thoroughly entertained throughout.
- Repetitive gameplay: You will repeat the same action, over and over again – running and hiding from mentally disturbed humanoid-mutates while breathing extremely, extremely hard. If you’ve ever played Siren (or Forbidden Siren in United Kingdom), you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Enemies will doggedly chase you, until getting monstrously bored. You will hide under beds, and in lockers – and that’s about it.
I played Outlast using both keyboard/mouse and gamepad (Rumbleshock 2). Both provided an entirely seamless gameplay experience. Growing up with consoles, though, I just had to play Outlast through with a pad.
- Gamepad: Playing with the gamepad is much harder than using the keyboard and mouse. You will run from baddies having only the poorest understanding of where they are behind you. Turning around is just too slow and oftentimes evil is just on your heels. It’s also worth noting that my gamepad detected without any issue at all.
- Keyboard and mouse: Keep in mind that this game feels designed to be played with the keyboard and mouse. Using the mouse you can rapidly scan rooms, searching for visual cues or precious batteries. Unlike the gamepad, which forces you to slowly look around, the keyboard and mouse grants lightning-fast view changes. For example, while on the run, you can scan ahead and simultaneously shoot back glances at whatever pursues you. You can even check down corridors for dead-ends. You won’t get this luxury with a gamepad.
So should you buy Outlast? For $20 there’s very little risk involved, and quite a bit of reward, if you end up liking the game. However, compared to some of the budget alternatives out there, combined with Outlast’s low replayability, you may want to spend your money elsewhere, particularly if you like independent games.
However, Outlast remains one of the most intense games I’ve ever played. That includes titles such as Deadspace, Siren (Forbidden Siren in the UK), Silent Hill and Resident Evil. If you’re a survival horror fan, then you may want to snap this title up at full price.
Anyone else loving Outlast? Let us know in the comments.
How do I win a copy of Outlast?
You may enter by submitting your name and email address. You’ll receive one entry simply by doing so.
After that, you’ll also be offered various methods to earn additional entries. They range from sharing a link to this giveaway on social networks; to commenting or visiting a specific page. The more you participate, the higher your chances of winning! You will receive 5 additional entries into the giveaway for every successful referral via your shared links.
This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, October 11. The winner will be selected at random and informed via email.
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