Playing Outlast is essentially like running around a haunted house for 5-6 hours, and, despite some faults, it’s still somewhat effective. We begin by pulling up to an insane asylum with some suspicious things going on. Something doesn’t feel right off the bat, and then we pull up a camera that the main character has and for most of the game, you are going to have this digital camera HUD over everything. It oddly gives the game the feel of a found footage film and is quite effective in doing so; it’s a unique take on the survival horror genre for that alone. Although, how much of Outlast actually feels like a video game rather than just a set of cheap scares?
You run around this asylum where the patients have turned into strange monsters and then you go to place A, jump scare, place B, jump scare, repeat. It gets repetitive by the three-hour mark. I’m not saying it isn’t scary at all because it is at times, but the scares get predictable at a point to be perfectly honest. The biggest issue is the lack of variety in gameplay mechanics. Most of the game is simply walking or running around and using the camera to look at things or collecting batteries for said camera. There isn’t a combat system or much variety in the level design either. It simply feels like a long haunted house. It also tries to keep up this story shrouded in mystery that doesn’t really go anywhere that is filled with stereotypical religious extremist stuff and a crazy doctor character. And ends up taking a turn to a disappointing ending segment which actually ends up being the least scary part of the entire game. You’ll also be collecting a lot of random documents and notes (the notes being collected by camera) and they mostly interrupt gameplay and don’t add a whole lot to the story itself, they are an excuse (for the most part) to extend gameplay time.
The objectives in general feel forced, just a way to simply squeeze out as many scares as possible. I’m not claiming that the game doesn’t have any scares or that it didn’t scare me — I realize that it’s the game’s main job to scare the living hell out of you – but it’s only truly effective in spurts. The game controls nicely regardless and feels very comfortable on the Dualshock 4 and looks great graphics wise on the system. Overall, Outlast provides some scares and controls nicely despite not having much variety in the gameplay. It’s worth a single playthrough at most for a decent time.
- Still delivers some scares
- Runs fluently on the PS4
- Camera system is unique
- Scares get repetitive
- Story just leads to disappointment and feels like a waste
- Interruptive gameplay with documents/notes and load times
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!