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Games : Worth a Look
Release Date: February 4th, 2014 Movie Release Year: 2014


Overview -

There is no shortage of video game genres. 'Call of Duty' and 'Battlefield' lead the first-person shooter pack, while heavy hitters like 'Uncharted' and ' Tomb Raider' have nearly perfected the third-person action adventure game. And let's not forget RPGs, turn-based strategy games, point-and-click adventures, fighting games, racers (simulated and arcade), puzzlers, and platformers; the list truly goes on and on. No less significant is survival horror, a genre that many associate with the likes of the original 'Resident Evil' and 'Silent Hill' games, where the focus is on resource management, puzzle solving, and flight over fight. Over the years, the horror genre has seen a metamorphosis in gameplay style and mechanics, where running and hiding has been replaced with heavy combat and intense action; a change met with a mixture of praise and frustration from fans and critics alike.

Now though, through indie and other smaller developers communities who have embraced the essence of true survival horror, a steady stream of titles that more appropriately fit the genre's origins have been released, including Frictional Games' 'Amnesia: The Dark Descent' and 'A Machine for Pigs', Parsec Productions' 'Slender: The Eight Pages', and most recently, Red Barrels' 'Outlast.' Originally developed and released for the PC in September 2013, 'Outlast' has now found its way to the PlayStation 4 as one of February's Instant Game Collection titles, but is it a continued step in the right direction for survival horror?

Worth a Look
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Video Resolution/Codec:
Audio Formats:
Dolby Digital 5.1
Release Date:
February 4th, 2014

Video Review


The development team at Red Barrels created an environment that is both believable and incredibly disturbing to be witness to. Their attention to detail is admirable and clearly took great effort to complete. The chaos and horror that is Mount Massive Asylum is on full display across every square inch of the game, and there is an immediate sense that the building you are trapped in could very well be centuries old.

Adding to the sense of destruction created by the escaped inmates, 'Outlast' excels at the over-the-top use of blood and gore. The warning provided at the beginning of the game is no joke. Beaten and bloodied bodies can be found everywhere: impaled on spikes, missing limbs and heads, or split in half. The sheer amount of blood splatter alone would make Dexter Morgan grin from ear to ear. Leaving behind footprints on the floor after running through a pool of blood was a nice touch and begs the question – were the inmates smart enough to track my movement by the trail I may have inadvertently left behind?

Although the environmental effects are quite impressive, the up-close-and-personal details of the inmates are a bit on the rough side. Facial features and animations are fine from a distance, but closer inspection reveals a lack in detail and realism.

Audio Review


As impressed as I was with the visuals of 'Outlast', the audio representation is the real high point of the game for me. Whether playing through a surround sound system, or with a nice set of headphones (recommended), 'Outlast' gets under your skin with a purposeful sound design. When being pursued, or finding a brief hiding place from your attackers, Miles' breathing and heartbeat becomes louder and louder, and I often found my own heart rate and heavy breathing aping that of what was occurring in-game. It was both exhilarating and oddly disturbing.

Because so much of the game takes place in darkness, surround sound effects become integral to your staying alive. You know you are being hunted, but are unsure of your hunter's location. Hearing a door creak open, footsteps through a flooded room, or chains rattling as they are moved aside delivers an incredible sense of dread and foreboding. These audio effects, when combined with a near-perfect musical score, are some of the best I've had the pleasure of experiencing in quite a long time.

I applaud Red Barrels for embracing the origins of survival horror in a time when horror games in general have become synonymous with high action. The emphasis on running and hiding over standing your ground and fighting adds to the constant sense of dread. While I would have preferred some amount of defensive abilities, the overall experience was frightening, disturbing, and incredibly tense. 'Outlast' is not a game for everyone, and I believe even horror aficionados will be affected by the images and gameplay.

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