Video Game Battles: Amnesia vs Outlast
This time the battle is between Amnesia vs. Outlast. Amnesia: The Dark Descent was a success and is as one of the scariest games ever made, but the sequel, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, brought a lot of disappointment; it just wasn't really an Amnesia game anymore. A week before it was released there was another survival horror game that could be called a new Amnesia, namely Outlast. Although it takes place in the modern day world, with lunatics and science gone wrong instead of grunts, globes and sinister shadows, it has the hopelessly scaring feel as the old Amnesia. Outlast and Amnesia: Machine for Pigs came out around the same time and are compared all over the web. But I want to tackle the battle between Outlast and Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
If you played the games, you'll probably know what they're about, but I'll give a short description of both for the people who are new to the games.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a game set in 1839 about a man named Daniel. You wake up in Castle Brenneburg, with no memory at all, due to an amnesia potion. You set out on a journey into the depths of Brennenburg to find the man who has ruined you: Alexander of Brennenburg. As you progress through the game, the story unfolds and you find yourself in a macabre nightmare, surrounded by dark magic, while you have to escape monsters named grunts and a murderous shadow.
Outlast is a game set in a more modern time and you play as Miles Upshur, a freelance journalist who wants to recover the secrets of Mount Massive Asylum and the Murkoff corporation. Something went terrible wrong at Mount Massive and the patients were used for a crazy sleep experiment. Well that didn't really help them and it doesn't help you either, cause now they're even more dangerous! Helped (or something like that) by a not-so-sane priest you try to figure out what the hell happened, and is still going on, there.
Both stories seem simple, Amnesia is initially about revenge and in Outlast it seems to revolve around revealing the truth, the secret of the Asylum.
But both have a twist
Daniel also has a dark side and the story turns out to be, more about redemption than about revenge. As for Miles.. well Miles is kind of chosen, in a not-so-good way.
I won't spoil any more, just go play the games if you wanna know what happens. They're awesome, dude! The stories are also kind of the same, in the way that you don't really know what is happening, and you have to figure that out. Although in Amnesia you only know your own name and where you're from (Your name is Daniel, you live in Mayfair and something is hunting you). In Outlast you know from the start that, what is going on in the asylum is not good at all; that Murkoff corporation is doing filthy business. You just don't know how batshit crazy stuff really is, in there. You are not ready for the truth at all.
Atmosphere and Immersion
The setting of both games is pretty different. Amnesia: The Dark Descent takes place in the late August of 1839 in the Prussian Castle Brenneburg. The castle is medieval mixed with some Victorian elements here and there, but it is above all dark and foreboding with its black and gray stone walls and ceiling. It is also crumbling and falling apart, because of the evil shadow that is destroying everything. The big but old rooms and the small full rooms mixed with the music give you the idea you are never safe.
There aren't any real living people walking around in the game, but you hear voices, screams and footsteps everywhere, giving you the idea you are not alone, even if you are most definitely.. alone. This all adds up to the immersion in the game, so that you're always on your guard. Often, I ended up hiding in a closet waiting for a monster to pass, when there wasn't any. So I was just waiting for 10 minutes for nothing. Other times I didn't want to explore some room, being sure there was a thing in there, only to rid myself on the chance to get some much-needed items.
Outlast, for me, was less scary. You walk around through the more modern asylum which has smaller rooms. It is still pretty dark and on the brink of collapse, but most of the rooms are white in contrast to the dark gray of Amnesia. Next to that, you are not alone. Although the people around you are lunatics, who aren't so human anymore, you are still surround by living persons. In the beginning, you feel like none of them is trustworthy and every one of them could kill you, but in the end they are just as much of victims of the situation as you.
That said, the music and sounds, especially Miles' breathing, are nerve-racking. When Miles is panicking and breathing fast, you just start panicking as well. Shouting things like:
"Who the hell is following me?! Is it Chris Walker again?!"
"Is there someone out there?!"
"Miles stop it!"
to your computer screen, is perfectly normal when playing Outlast. (Watch one of my Let's Plays of Outlast to see who Chris Walker is, and to see me freaking out, of course.) With Outlast it is often easier and more fun to just run away from the enemies, it is often maybe even encouraged, instead of hiding and waiting in tension. In the end, the immersion is kind of the same, but it's just less filled with scary suspense and more action-packed.
The gameplay of both games is basically the same, but with some differences. In both games you can't find the monsters, you can only run and hide. You have a light source, in Amnesia this is the lantern, and in Outlast it is the video camera with night vision, with needs fuel or power. You can run, jump and crouch in both games. These are kind of the base mechanics and they are the same. The rest is different.
In Amnesia, next to oil for your lantern, you also need to find health potions, laudanum, cause health doesn't regenerate, tinder boxed to turn on lamps, and items for puzzles. You also have to keep a check on your sanity, cause if that's too low, you'll faint.. probably at the worst moment ever.. when there is a monster behind you. Your sanity drains, because of the dark, unsettling events and monsters, and you can gain sanity by making progress and completing puzzles. Puzzles can be solved with information from notes, by the collection or placing of items, and by pulling of levers. Items are collected in your inventory.
The puzzles aren't that hard, but they are fun and interactive in my opinion. The story of Amnesia unravels through flashbacks, notes, and diary pages. Momentos represent your goals, and you can have more moments at the same time, which give some information of direction on what you have to do and where. Lastly, you can pick up a lot of stuff, rocks, chairs, books, statues, etc., and just carry them with you as a sort of companion. Or you can just through them around in frustration or to distract monsters. You can also hide from monsters in closets or just by hiding in a dark corner.
In Outlast you only need to collect batteries for your camera's night-vision, health regenerates and you can't turn lamps on or of. The video camera only consumes batteries when you use the night-vision, which is logical because you have to use your camera to film events to get diary notes.
This means you have to film a lot, and if normal filming needed batteries too, you would only be focused on collecting batteries, and not care about anything else. If you miss a note, because you forgot to film, you'll miss a part of the story, which is a pity. There are some puzzles in Outlast, but they only go as far as turning a couple of valves to turn on a generator. You are often followed by lunatics in these zones which make you run around in panic, losing every sense of direction. Notes about the story are as I already said collected by filming, but also by finding documents. Goals are found in the pause menu and you only have one at a time, which only comments on what to do. In contrast to Amnesia, you can't pick up things, which is a pity I think. You can only hide from monsters in lockers or under beds, hiding in corners is not so much of an option, these lunatics are too smart.
This comparison shows that Amnesia is more about slowly figuring everything out, hiding and crouching to get rid of monsters, solving puzzles, and really digging into your environment. Outlast is more fast-paced and with more action. Puzzles are simpler and if your fast you can solve them by running around with a bad guy running after you.
Amnesia vs Outlast: Conclusion
Amnesia vs Outlast, the games are pretty similar, but also have differences. Amnesia is dark, full of occult and dark magic, and Outlast is more modern with only a hint of the occult. Amnesia is slower and more focused on puzzles, while Outlast is more fast-paced and the emphasis is on the action and running/hiding. In the end, it's all about taste, both games are amazing horror games which can give you a good scare and it all depends on the fact if you want to play a slower game full of suspension where sometimes nothing happens, or one full of action where stuff happens all the time.