“Outlast” could possibly be the scariest game I have played in a decade, and it was a free download on Playstation Plus on the PS4. “Outlast” doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the average big-budget blockbuster, but what it does have is a central focus on creating a really creepy atmosphere and some genuine scares. “Outlast” doesn’t have any mini games, inventory, or even weapons to upgrade. One of the things that creates the most tension in the game is the fact that there is no combat system; you can’t fight back. If you get cornered by a bad guy, your character dies, so you have to run or stay out of trouble in order to survive.
The setting of “Outlast” is a huge insane asylum called the “Mount Massive Asylum.” It used to be a government building that was shut down due to a major incident, but now it is reopened by a new benefactor called “Murkoff Advanced Research Systems.” The main character is a news reporter name Miles Upshur; he goes to the Asylum to get his story based on a tip he received that there is corporate corruption going on and the inmates are being mistreated. After sneaking into the building through a second story window armed only with his video camera, he gets trapped inside and that is when the true terror begins.
The most striking thing about “Outlast” is the feeling you get when you play it, from the music, the sound effects, and the level of detail in the environments. This game is full of all sorts of scary things. Things are always jumping out at you, doors are always shutting unexpectedly, and you are always being chased by insane doctors and even more deranged inmates. You never really know what to expect next, and that is what always keeps you on your toes. Also throughout the game there are sequences where you’re chased by this big shadowy guy through really narrow corridors, trying to find a good hiding spot. It is really scary and really adds to the heart-pounding tension. Every time he chases you, it seems to drive you deeper and deeper into the Asylum, where you find the worst horrors in the game.
The gameplay in “Outlast” is incredibly simple to learn; there is no weapon system to learn or combos to master. If you get in trouble, you can only run or find somewhere to hide. The only tool you have at your disposal is your video camera, which has night vision that can really help when things go dark. Using your night vision is extremely helpful. If it is dark, a lot of the enemies won’t know you are there and you can sneak past them. If you are looking through the camera, you can see in the dark and they cannot. It doesn’t give you a huge advantage because your guy is loud – his shoes make footstep sounds and his breathing gets heavy – which makes sneaking around very difficult.
Another thing that makes life difficult is the endless search for batteries for your video camera; they run out quick, so it makes you very reluctant to use the camera unless you really need to. When you are low on power, it becomes very scary because you don’t know what else is in the dark areas with you. The most difficult thing is the navigation. The map isn’t great and there are a ton of objectives where you have to find things, so it becomes a bit tedious backtracking around this maze to find the things you need when it is very easy to get turned around.
“Outlast” is not for the faint of heart; it is very scary and quite gory. Everything about the game is designed to give you a good scare. If you like horror and are looking to be terrified, you will love this game. The best way, or I should say worst way, to experience this game is with all the lights off and with a good pair of headphones. “Outlast” is a truly terrifying experience and is a must-play for horror fans that have a PS4.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]