Friday, February 7, 2014

Is that all you got?

I am going to be intentionally vague in my reactions to Outlast, at least for the moment. It is still new enough that I would feel guilty spoiling the ending. It is not very long, some people will find it scary, I hated the last hour with the same passion usually reserved for the midichlorian explanation of the force in the Star Wars prequels.

And I may already have said too much.

What I did enjoy was picking out references to other horror games, intentional or otherwise. The prison sections reminded me very much of The Suffering and I do not mean that as a slight. I liked The Suffering. Running away and hiding with no hope of surviving combat reminded me of Clock Tower, and that was before the direct homage to scissorman.

Let me trim that for you.

Later it devolves into the campiest bits of the middle Resident Evil games with a dash of the Russian Sleep Experiment short story with Nazis instead of Commies. More specific complaints will be levied at a later date.

Outlast succeeds at being an enjoyable first person adventure game in spite of repetitive puzzles and chase sequences. It tells a pretty good, if cliched story both visually and through journals. There are even characters that are more than 'big bad guy who wants to kill you.' Father Martin provided a narrative center (until his demise) and the two naked guys arguing over who would get the player's eyeballs and spleen were more disturbing than anything else the game had to offer. I would have liked to see more of them.

Not literally, mind you, having seen all there is to see.

The problem is that this is not the product I was promised. Outlast isn't scary. I will go as far as calling it unnerving in the same way Dead Space was unnerving but that it all I can give it on the horror-o-meter. Jump scares get old. Running for your life gets old when it is the third time going down the same path and you don't know quite where to go. Homicidal maniacs are much less threatening once you learn that they can be outsmarted by a room with two exits.

Good game, especially for a studio's first effort? Yes, absolutely. What I was hoping for? No.

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