Outlast is considered to be one of the scariest games of all time. I was well aware of the game's reputation. When Humble Bundle emailed me about a giveaway for this game with the Whistleblower DLC I had to take it. God, what a game...
Outlast opens up with Miles Upshur, an investigative journalist arriving at the sinister Mount Massive Asylum after receiving an anonymous email about inhuman treatments at the Asylum. Miles, always wanting a good story sneaks inside to see for himself and everything goes downhill from there for him. Now he must try to make it out of the Asylum and avoid the violent patients while discovering what happened at the Asylum and record as much evidence to destory the Murkoff Corporation who drove the patients to murder in the first place.
Gameplay is simple at first glance, you are armed with a camcorder which has night vision and is used to record sightings for Miles to build his report. While you have night vision on the battery life drains so you have to balance using the night vision and finding batteries which are scattered throughout the Asylum. You can peak around doors and you can run, you can also hide in the lockers and under tables to help escape should anyone spot you. That is it. There is no combat in this game and it does not need it. It helps add to the nightmarish situation Miles is in. Miles and the player have to use their wits if they want to survive and it is done so well in Outlast.
The atmosphere and the sound design are the strongest point of this game. Just playing this game puts me on edge, the simple act of pausing the game makes the smallest unnerving sound that puts the player on edge, there is very little music with the exception of key moments to insure the full effect is set in. But asides from that all there is Miles terrified mummers, irregular breathing patterns and whatever sounds the docile or hostile patients make while hunting you or busy warped up in their own little world. It is so effective. One standout moment for is when I was trying to escape one special encounter, hiding in locker hoping and praying that he would not find me. I was such an emotional wreck. That was one of many moments that bring to my two favourite horror games, System Shock 2 and Bloodborne. I do not say this lightly. The game's atmosphere is that brilliant.
So with all of that said Outlast should slide neatly into neatly into my Hall of Fame correct?
If it was not for the final moments of the game it would have been been in the Hall of Fame quite happily but it sadly does not stick the landing due to one stupid element that is out of place and unnecssary.
Please be warned I am about to spoil a bit of the ending so if you do not want this part then please skip over the next paragraph now.
After Miles gets the key to the elevator which would take him to freedom, instead it takes him to an underground lab run by Nazi scientists who are responsible for everything. I would like you to think about that for a second. Did that sound like something from Outlast or from Wolfenstein? If you answered the latter then you must be as shocked as I was when it happened be because it left me thinking how the hell it went from insane murderers that had a semi realistic edge to it then turn into something as cartoonish as evil Nazi scientists doing evil Nazi scientist things. Would have System Shock 2 been better if at the end SHODAN was just part of some prank a co worker played on you? Would have Silent Hill 2 been just as effective if the joke ending was the real ending? I doubt it.
Outlast is one of the best horror games out there, that is a fact. I am really disappointed that the final stage of the game had to take such a silly turn.
Whistleblower is a short(about 2 to 3 hours give or take) piece of DLC that serves as a prequel and parallel story to the main Outlast story. You are Waylon Park this time, a software engineer who was working at Mount Massive and is the one who tipped off Miles Upshur to the treatment of patients. He is discoved and is placed in the Asylum to shut him up. After all hell breaks loose he tries to escape and tell the world. Gameplay is not different at all from the main game and a few familiar enemies appear and some new ones which I will not spoil here.
I would say that Whistleblower is bettter story wise because even though the silly element is still there is not quite as prominent in the DLC as it was in the main story. I do consider it a plus.
Outlast + Whistleblower is a terrifying nightmare though hell. It is one of the best of the best horror games out there but sadly it just barely misses being one of the best games due to that one stupid story element.