Outlast: spooky survival horror

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A pair of positive reviews


It seems to be a typical horror game, but very well executed.

The team that made this game understood survival horror. Outlast takes the ideas of predecessors and runs them through an incredibly talented set of individuals to produce a slick, brilliant experience. Its claim of “scariest game ever” will likely put it under some fire, particularly from connoisseurs of the genre, and especially with Machine For Pigs turning up at a similar time. But what it can definitely claim to be is a great game. It’s not a simple excuse for gore and violence, nor is it only interested in shocking you with a sudden scream and blood splattered visage. It wants to horrify. It’ll also intrigue, terrify and surprise you in equal measure.

And that balance is key to Outlast’s success. While there’s rarely any let up in the tension, it always feels like you’re in the hands of a developer at the top of its game, revelling in making the player uncomfortable, but never forgetting to delight at the same time. Outlast’s combination of stealth, platforming and horror is exceptional, the benefits of the diverse experience of its highly talented development team always in plain sight.

I can’t say that Outlast is a “fun” game. It’s stressful and terrifying in a way that most recent horror games can’t match. The frights found in Outlast are nothing new. I’ve seen them in other horror games and movies many, many times. I’m jaded, I told myself. This stuff shouldn’t affect me — but it did. Other reviewers might tell you to play it in the dark with headphones on to get the full effect. I say play it in a brightly lit room surrounded by pictures of kittens. The heart can only take so much.


Wow, looks awesome!!!

It looks good graphically, but the gameplay itself looked okay in the videos they’ve had so far.

Honestly, I think it’s a bad call to launch so close to Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs.

Patrick Klepek has a quick look of this over at Giant Bomb, looks pretty interesting. Incidentally, I really love a first person perspective game that allows you to look down and see your actual in-game body, as in Mirror’s Edge. I think that’s just a great touch.

Eh, maybe this is the good one and Amnesia feels uninspired. It isn’t done by the original Amnesia creators. We’ll see.

But it’s true there is a clear overlap here, both seems the same type of game: first person survival stealth horror.

I should probably try to play Amnesia again sometime. It’s just… difficult.

Well, I’m more talking about the pending launch of Amnesia cutting into Outlast’s sales. I don’t know which will be the better (more frightening) game, but I’m pretty sure that Machine for Pigs is the clear winner so far in capturing the genre market’s anticipation.

Heck, there are already a ton of videos for the first 30 minutes of Machine for Pigs on Youtube. They were pretty savvy to let selected people post Let’s Play videos early to drum up hype.

Agreed, then .

Plus, Outlast has this whole controversy aimed right at it.

Asylum Jam is a 48 hour game jam set for the spooky month of October, taking place on October 11th - 13th. The purpose of this jam is for individuals or teams to create a horror game on any platform or of any type that simply follow the following stipulation, inspired by Ian Mahar’s article ‘Nobody Wins When Horror Games Stigmatize Mental Illness’ (http://kotaku.com/nobody-wins-when-horror-games-stigmatize-mental-illness-912462538):

1.) You should not use asylums, psychiatric institutes, medical professionals or violent/antipathic/’insane’ patients as settings or triggers (some examples of what we’re steering away from.)

This jam is to show that you can still create a great horror experience without using inaccurate stereotypes of those who suffer from mental illness, or the institutions that support them in diagnosis and recovery.

Personally, I think horror and spooky asylums go hand-in-hand, but maybe that’s my prejudice and ignorance poking through? I don’t know. I just know I live near a pretty scary place with a checkered history of abuse, patient deaths, and haunted stories.

Up until a few years ago, there was literally a tumbledown hilltop hospital HQ next to a lake from the old Fort Steilacoom Asylum days. People would go there to do drugs and other unsavory things.

The impression I’ve always had is that the horror from spooky asylums usually stemmed from what the doctors did to the patients, and not so much the inmates themselves. Also big empty buildings that have lots and lots of smaller rooms and corridors are kind of creepy by default because you’re permanently unable to be aware of everything in your immediate surroundings.

I think that Lazy Shiftless Bastard has the right of it. Ian Mahar seems to have completely missed what it is that makes an old asylum spooky. It isn’t that the patients there had mental illness, but rather the barbaric conditions they were left in, and the horrific ways in which they were treated. But if he’s trying to separate insanity from the horror genre…well, good luck with that. For his next crusade I hope he tries something a bit easier, like trying to get swords and armor out of the fantasy genre. When he’s got that licked, he can try for getting salt removed from the ocean.

Heh. The connection between horror and asylums is older than videogames themselves.

First impression (after playing for a hour), isn’t very good.

It’s like Amnesia… except more. More linear, more scripted, more hand-holding, more based on jump-scares, it doesn’t let to grow the tension or build horror atmosphere, it feels more phony while Amnesia the fear were more naturalistic, and the story is a senseless mix of old horror tropes without any style.
It’s like they barely tried, I imagine this happened between devs
dev 1 “let’s make a horror game, dark, with lots of blood, enemies jumping in the camera at the player, the whole thing”.
dev 2 “Ok, what’s the story?”
dev 3 “Uhh… whatever dude, maybe some forbidden experiments in a Asylum or some shit like that. Not important, it’s all dark corridors and monsters trying to kill the player”.

They nailed the visual feel of horror, but not the gameplay and story execution that would make the game truly a good horror game.

Gone Home seems scarier than Outlast… and that has a touching story! BTW Gone Home reminded me alot of that level from NOLF 2. The Tornado Level!

BTW, I didn’t buy any of these games yet, just watched abit of them on youtube… I know I’m not alone in doing this for mostly linear games.

How long is Outlast? Amnesia was a good ten hours as was Penumbra and its sequels…

5-6 hours, I read.

I was a bit too hard in my previous posts, the game on the whole still feel scary, and had some good sequences which put fear on you, it’s just it feels like superficially scary and it’s kind of wasted opportunity of doing something really good.

I agree, I like Outlast. I don’t like it a lot or anything, but I think it has its moments. The environments are great, and it works well on a technical level. I think a lot of its undoing is how it exposes all of its working bits through its presentation and focus on repetition. If you like horror games, I think you should play it - but only because it seems pretty rare for a game in its genre to climb above mediocrity when the production values are as high as in this one. I think it has a great sense of dread and the grotesque, so at least there’s that. Not overwhelming or extraordinary, but totally okay if you want a short horror game to run through before A Machine for Pigs is released.

Sooo… Just a heads up to anyone interested in the Whistleblower DLC - it’s got some really disturbing stuff in it. A lot more gore, and a lot of nudity.


There’s a whole lot of the player character being threatened with castration, lots of chopped off penises, men’s torsos with breasts sewn onto them and a “vagina” made with butcher-work, etc.

Basically, Red Barrels went kind of nuts with the sexual violence. Is that a good or bad thing? Well, it made me jump out of my seat a few times.

How Red Barrels went indie and made Outlast.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, we heard back from the CMF. The project had been rejected and we would have to wait until after the holidays to find out why. Soon after, we heard from Sony that the Pub Fund would be focusing on the Vita so that too was a dead end for us.

That was definitely our lowest point. It had been a year since we quit our jobs. We took stock of our situation: Twelve months without a salary, no publishers, no money, nothing. It was a bleak moment.

Outlast 2 announced.

No conflict is ever black and white. But once the dust has settled, the victors get to decide who was right and who was wrong. Who is good and who is evil. Human nature pushes us to extremes of violence and depravity, which we then justify by divine inspiration and a promise of paradise to come. Horror rises from desperation and blind faith. OUTLAST 2 will test your faith, pushing players to a place where going mad is the only sane thing to do.

First screen: