Thursday, 20 March 2014

Sour Crouch's Super Fantastic Indie Horror Roundup Super Slam....Thing" - Outlast

Words: Sour Crouch

So, I'm back. Miss me?

Yeah. Thought so.

I'll speed along to the second game I'd like to spurt furiously over:

Outlast

See Crouch wax enthusiastic about the game Here

Outlast is to me what Pop Tarts are to a fat man: A last, best hope for happiness. What a wonderful game. It's quite literally got it all in the imaginary small horror experience check list I just made up in my head just right this second. Right now, and everything. It's of decent length (Wa-hey!) and proper girthy (not sure If I'm even complying with normal innuendo rulings any more) and like Pablo the Plumber it won't fix your plumbing. Unlike Pabs, however, it won't flip you on your arse and fuck you. Pablo will. He's a professional, damn it!...

But it's extra. He's got contracts. LENGTHY contracts.

Back on track, Outlast is one part Clive Barker (the good part) one part John Carpenter and one part Lovecraft. Interesting mix, huh? To top that off, it's wrapped up with all the tropes of "found footage" films. Oh yeah! This had my attention, alright. The plot is a rather simple affair, though no less enjoyable for it. You're a reporter who has received a "tip-off" from an anonymous source that something is going down at Mount Massive Asylum, with the common sense checks bypassed you've driven through the front gates and are ready to get your reporter on!

To cut a semi-long story short, shit happens and you're trapped in the Asylum. Not alone, mind. That'd be too easy. You're in there with the inmates/experiments/unknown forces and most of those guys want a piece of you. What follows is an extremely tense and well-orchestrated trudge wherein you free-run, hide and find clues in the various and vastly different areas of the Asylum grounds. The story is that of B-Movie schlock. It's there to carry the terrifying gameplay forward and while it is occasionally inventive, it's nothing out of the ordinary. There's enough to keep you going well past the point at which you really *really* wish you'd given up because scary reasons. I won't spoil anything but definitely expect to be shocked at the escalation the plot takes from simple "scary mutants" to forces with untoward interests with the world. You'll genuinely be interested in collecting the various clippings and bits of paper that serve to flesh out the story, and yes! there's definitely room for a sequel! That makes me particularly happy.

One of Outlast's most promising features is the use of the video camera. It actually creates a majority of the tension in the game. See, You play most of Outlast in pitch black darkness. You can't turn any lights on and you don't have a flashlight. All you have is your trusty camera doohickey and its wonderfully realised night vision setting which adds this wonderful grainy filter to the world. You could be walking about in the sewer level, cautiously examining every doorway or new area just to make sure nothing will jump out on you when you catch the glint of a chappie's eyes.

You hide. Maybe you're not fast enough?

Maybe he's seen the briefest glimpse of you as you escape into a room with a well-placed locker? Regardless he's on to you and starts to "hunt".

You can hear the guttural squelching the thing that's supposed to be his face makes when he calls out to you in the dark. He's obviously in pain, as are most other inhabitants of Mount Massive.

The cries continue. He walks past the locker you're in and opens the one next to you and then SLAMS it just to shit you up further.

And then something happens. A few bleeps.

Your camera is running out of batteries. This is the second impressive mechanic that Outlast employs. You see, not only do you have to deal with this "hide and seek" shit, you also have to make sure to keep yourself well stocked of batteries.

Your camera dies. You haven't got any more batteries. You're trapped in the locker with no way of seeing your pursuer. This is the meat and veg of Outlast and it does it *extremely* well.

The game, which has trained you for so long in believing you're somewhat safe, then trolls you big time. It takes the camera away for a short time leading to one of the best jump scares and subsequent chase scenes I've been subjected to in a long time. You'll want your damn camera back. Trust me.

The terror offered in this game is constant - you never get a chance to rest. If you aren't being chased by something then you're in fear of being chased by something. Alternatively, like me, you might be curled up in the corner of the room with the game paused, texting your partner so that you have something comforting to distract you from the fact that you're about to become something's chew toy.

In short:

  • You need this game in your life.
  • I like porn with plot.

This has been Sour Crouch

If you like the sound of Outlast, you can buy it on Steam, or on Playstation Network

Stay tuned for the next instalment in the not too distant future!

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