Outlast: A Mentally Scarred Review
Out the gate, the game really hammers in hard that you are going to some dark places and you might not be ready for it.
You play Miles Upshur, a journalist following a lead that brings you to the door step of the Mount Massive Asylum. Apparently there has been a lot of paramilitary activity in this ancient asylum and you want to know why. Tragically, Miles learns more than he might have ever wanted.
After being warned to leave by an impaled officer, being tossed around by a hulking monstrosity of a man, meeting a mad priest and getting tossed in with the rest of the mental patients; you know you can only do one thing: RUN.
Honestly, the story is not really the reason you will continue struggling to survive in this game. It is more of a means to have the character go from one area to another, get chased and hide then find two or three items to progress to the next area. This is not a bad thing, but you start to notice the pattern rear its head toward the end of the game.
You can collect documents based on the things you record, as well as find documents filling in blanks as to what has been happening to the hospital. The notes are the most interesting part because aside from this, you never hear Miles speak. Yes, you hear his grunt and moan but this is the only time you hear his thoughts on the horrific things he is actually witnessing.
Even with all the information you gather, I never really felt any closer to understanding the motivations of the paramilitary group there or what the supernatural being haunting the grounds of the asylum really was. In fact, the ending had a very odd way of justifying what was actually causing this terrifying creature called the Walrider to torment and kill pretty much anyone it wanted.
The story was never the thing I paid the most mind to. The movement and audio design is spot on. The graphics are incredible and boasts the best in-game night vision I have ever seen. On top of that, it always maintains a tense and spine tingling atmosphere that makes you uncomfortable opening that next door. It is a bummer that the game is over in about 5 to 6 hours (depending on how good you are at sneaking). This is a fairly common length for most horror games, and I was fine with that length for this as well; Not too long and not too short.
The gameplay is where this game shines.
Everything about the way Miles controls and moves feels really responsive and weighty. whether he is running from an assailant, hiding and peeking around a corner or even just looking around a room; you always feel a good sense of control over what you are doing with a controller or mouse and keyboard.
This great sense of control helps with making every situation tense when hiding from an enemy in a dark room, with only the night vision of your hand camcorder to see. Being able to only see about 20 feet in any direction with the night vision is really nerve-wrecking as you progress down long halls. Ultimately, this is the best part and sneaking around is pretty well done.
My only complaint is that you can not go from a crouched state to running by just pressing the Run button. This is a fairly small complaint but when a mad doctor is attacking you with giant shears, and you forget to stand up before running, you feel a bit silly.
All in all, Outlast is a wonderful first game from a company showing a great deal of promise. I am really hoping to see more from them and would highly recommend this game to anyone that is a fan of Amnesia: The Dark Decent or just wants to get a few good scares in.
Trust me, this game is fairing much better than this guy did.