independent

Friday 29 August 2014

Scares to have you jumping off your seat

Published 17/09/2013 | 15:49

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Outlast is a unique and genuinely terrifying title that isn't for the faint hearted.

I CAN say with absolute certainty that Outlast made me jump out of my seat in its four-hour long descent into madness more than any other game in its genre. Jump scares galore, this survival-horror title is guaranteed to have you inexplicably running up your stairs at breakneck speeds and checking under your bed before you tuck in for the night.

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From the outset, Outlast is easily one of the best-looking and sounding survival horror games to date. Everything from the dynamic lighting to a fantastic soundscape work together to keep you on edge every second of the experience.

Immersion truly takes centre stage in Outlast. Every nuance, down to the frantic breathing of your character coupled with the portable camera you carry around, are engineered in order to maximise immersion. Little details that are often forgotten in games, like leaving a trail of bloody footprints after stepping through a pool of blood, really help sell the illusion that Mount Massive is an actual place.

Your guardian angel in Outlast comes in the form of a camera with a night-vision setting. Much of the asylum is bathed in darkness, so you'll be viewing a lot of the world through a bright-green lens. This helps create a great sense of tension, which is heightened by the fact that the camera runs on batteries that need to be found throughout the environment.

Outlast forces you to be conservative with your resources, as running out of juice in a particularly dark area forced me to have to reload a prior save file and replay a good chunk of a level.

Where Outlast bogs down a bit is when it tries to shoehorn typical game design elements into the horror experience. Slowly making your way through a dank basement crawling with enemies is great - but having to activate three generators in order to restore power to the area? Not so much.

While I'm not against the 'find three things' structure of many games, its place in Outlast had a tendency to momentarily pull me out of the experience and squash tension.

Thankfully, any slowing of pace in this title is quickly quashed by long stretches of tense, satisfying exploration married with the frequent jumpy scare tactic. The latter can often be tarred as 'cheap' or 'easy', but the balance of tension and release in this game is almost perfectly nailed.

Outlast is a unique and genuinely terrifying title that isn't for the faint hearted. An easy recommendation for anyone who enjoys a good thrill.

Enniscorthy Guardian

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