Gaming on a student budget: Outlast

Dr Traeger with his sub-par tools. Image credit: Adam Drew
An "unclean" surgery room. Image credit: Adam Drew
Hello? Image credit: Adam Drew
A pretty terrifying engagement. Image credit: Adam Drew
Smile? Image credit: Adam Drew

Mainstream horror games have somewhat stagnated over the last few years; the last vestige of quality requires me to dip into my more pretentious persona: indie horror gamer. The latest offering from Red Barrels games proves that even the most generic horror themes can be kept exciting and fresh when executed well. 

In brief, Outlast covers the disastrously unfortunate adventures of hapless professional trespasser/journalist Miles Upshur as he 
investigates a nightmarish asylum. What starts out as a quite simple survival horror monster scarefest turns into a more interesting sci-fi mystery; as Upshur delves deeper into the nightmare, he starts to see the asylum through the eyes of the inmates. 

The gameplay is intense, exciting and downright terrifying; the game borrows elements of games such as the Amnesia series, opening doors and such with mouse movements, to create a genuine sense of vital immersion. Though most of the key objective sections are very similar and can occasionally become repetitive, chases are claustrophobic and often very diffi cult, requiring split-second decisions and multiple panic moments. Impressive graphical detail, particularly in lighting and shadows, create a very convincing atmosphere of dread and despair. Some of my personal highlights were the delightful scenes with Dr Trager taking the player past some grotesque patients of Trager’s surgeries and a nail gnawing sequence featuring Trager himself and some rusty shears.

 To summarise, Outlast is a short, intense, and original horror game and I hope to see more contributions from Red Barrels.

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