The studio ‘Red Barrels’ is very much responsible for revolutionizing indie horror games. It is the very same studio that released Outlast in 2013. Outlast itself and the Outlast gameplay have changed the face of indie horror and horror itself, here’s why:
Outlast is an indie horror game that was released in 2013 by Red Barrels. Back then, Red Barrels was a new company and it was made by some developers who were on the development team that made ‘Prince Of Persia’. The game was released for Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Android, OS X, and Nintendo Switch.
The game is in a single-player, first-person mode and has Miles Upshur, an investigative journalist as its protagonist. The game follows him as he tries to survive his trip to Mount Massive Asylum which was originally meant to be an investigative visit.
Miles arrives at the Mount Massive Asylum to investigate and cover it at the tip of a whistleblower who leaked information about human rights violations and illegal experimentation being conducted on mentally ill patients. The moment Miles arrives something seems amiss. There are no guards or any sign of life anywhere at the entrance of the asylum. Miles decides to climb his way into the asylum because nobody is obviously there. The moment he steps in, he realizes that he has made the biggest mistake of his life!
Also read: 5 Best Horror Games To Play in 2021
The Outlast Gameplay And Its Impact
Outlast isn’t just any other game and the Outlast gameplay certainly isn’t. The game does not give you any weapons or arms to fight with. Your only options in the game are to run, hide, or die.
The protagonist is completely hapless and is described as “no fighter..” by the game itself. The only possible aid that Miles receives is a night-vision camcorder with which he is tasked to navigate the asylum and literally outlast the investigative trip.
By keeping the game in first-person mode and giving the character nothing to defend himself with, Red Barrels has done a remarkable job. These two aspects of the game grab the players by an unending and unpredictable sense of dread. The players feel as if they are present in the asylum themselves but with a restricted point of view which leaves the players vulnerable to every possible jumpscare and with an impending sense of dread hanging in the air.
Direction and execution
If there was one thing that defined the outlast gameplay, it would be its utilization of the camcorder vision. The franchise is pretty much a pioneer in this style of direction and execution. Unlike other horror games, the character doesn’t receive a source of light like a flashlight, candle, lantern, or even matches. The only thing that the game allows Miles is a night-vision enabled camcorder. The camcorder is not exactly a perfect substitute for a light source, it even breaks at a point in the game. As a result, the camera only adds to the tension, and stress as sometimes players cannot even see the villains until they have come very close.
The style of direction seems to be heavily influenced by movies like ‘Rec’ and ‘Quarantine’. Both the movies were horror movies and both of them featured a night-vision perspective and found-footage sub-genre horror. Coupled with all that, it’s no wonder that the game is still safely secured in its place as a nightmare-inducing video game even after 7 long years!
Of course, a hero is only known by the villain he fights, and Outlast has no dearth of memorable villains.
Outlast has villains like Richard Trager, Chris Walker, the murderous twins, Walrider and Dr. Wernicke. All of the above-mentioned villains have their own distinct personalities and all of them are memorable in different ways. Chris Walker, for example, is the most recognizable Outlast villain who is after Miles the moment he steps foot in the asylum. Another villain, Richard Trager, a sadistic maniac, who actually tortures Miles and definitely comes off as one of the scariest villains of the entire gaming history.
The Outlast gameplay does not give the players a moment’s relief. It keeps the players on their feet and forces them to complete tasks. The players are supposed to record the events in their camcorder as they happen. When an important event is recorded then Miles writes down those things in his ‘reporter’s notebook’. Apart from recording, the players are also supposed to collect confidential documents that reveal all the dark secrets that Murkoff is sitting on. By collecting documents, the lore behind the game gets very clear and the ending also becomes easier to understand. Once the players collect all the documents and files the players receive a trophy called ‘The Pulitzer Prize’.
The game would be incomplete without the mention of its snarky, sarcastic, ambitious, and intelligent protagonist. As a journalist, Miles definitely seems to have ambitions but to his misfortune, it only brings him to hell on Earth. Miles is a character who has a distinct personality. Most first-person video games do not provide their central characters with depth and Miles is definitely not one of them. He is able to crack edgy jokes even in the face of great peril with eloquence. The character of Miles Upshur was intentionally kept mute and because of this, the players are able to put themselves in his shoes.
The Impact of Outlast
Believe it or not the Outlast gameplay and the game itself have made a contribution to the horror genre, indie horror in particular.
It helped define the surge of indie horror games in the early 10s. Even though the Outlast gameplay is relatively simple, it preys on our innate fear of the dark very well. It also helped revolutionize the way horror games were made throughout the decade. Everything about Outlast is just perfect, its jumpscares, its story, its characters, and of course its gameplay.
Since its release in 2013, the game has sold over 4 million copies (source). It released a free webcomic called The Murkoff Account which is equally good and engaging and released another terrifying sequel in 2017 called, ‘Outlast 2’. Recently, Red Barrels announced the third installment to the franchise called, ‘Outlast Trials’ which is again set in Mount Massive Asylum during the Cold War era. The game is set to be released sometime in 2021.
Is there going to be an Outlast 3?
Yes, there will be a third installment of the called ‘Outlast Trials’ that will be released sometime in 2021
What are some other games like Outlast?
some games that are like Outlast are:
1. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
2. Silent Hill 1 and 2
3. Silent Hill ( Playable Trailer)
4. The Evil Within
How many Outlast games are there?
The Outlast franchise has 2 released games, Outlast and Outlast 2. Besides, the main games, Outlast also has a DLC called Outlast: Whistleblower which is said to be even better than the original game.