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LOS ANGELES — If the most dangerous enemy is man, then the scariest enemy is a violent man that’s lost his mind. Developer Red Barrels confronts players with exactly this scenario in its upcoming horror game for the PlayStation 4 and PC: Outlast.
In the first-person adventure, you control journalist Miles Upshur as he infiltrates Mount Massive Asylum, a home for insane convicts. Armed only with a camera, you must discover what’s happening to the patients. The problem is that even though Upshur is at the hospital to expose the torture these convicts are receiving, they aren’t pleased to see him — and each convict will behave differently.
To accurately capture the variety of madness that afflicts humans, Red Barrels worked with actual neural psychologists.
“Working from real-world profiles and information has allowed us to portray a wide variety of behaviors to represent the patients in a realistic way,” Red Barrels cofounder Philippe Morin told GamesBeat. “It’s helped us validate ideas for the nature of the experiments that players will see in the game.”
These different psychological profiles mean that some patients will completely ignore the player while others will attack on sight.
Not all of the horror comes from the unknown minds of the patients. Outlast accurately depicts the combat prowess of professional journalists, which is to say none. Upshur is helpless against the lunatics. This means you’ll have to scramble into corners and hidden rooms to escape and survive.
My 15 minutes with it left me sweaty, spooked, and a little weary of all the people around me.