Outlast Preview: Amnesia: Dark Descent Made Red Barrels Believe


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If you were to go by the triple-A console game market, you might think there were no horror fans out there.

The marquee horror series in triple-A, franchises such as Resident Evil and Dead Space, continue to swing more toward action than horror. Meanwhile, other storied series such as Silent Hill seem to struggle in today’s market. Those indicators seem to suggest that there are fewer players who want straight horror games, and that those games just don’t sell well.

But then there are games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a title that features none of the sort of action elements that the big developers seem to think are necessary to sell games. Amnesia includes no combat, forcing players instead to run and hide. There are no weapons and no battles with monsters. It’s a game about powerlessness and exploration, and it has received critical acclaim and a lot of attention from players since its 2011 release.

For indie developer Red Barrels, creators of the upcoming horror game Outlast, Amnesia proved there was a market for the kind of game its team wanted to make.

“When we left our jobs in January 2011 (to found Red Barrels), we were thinking of concepts, and that was when Amnesia: The Dark Descent came out,” Red Barrels’ Co-Founder and President Philippe Morin said during an interview at E3 2013, near the Outlast game stations in the Sony booth. “We played it, we loved the idea, we thought it was a very effective way to bring the emotions we wanted to bring in our game, so that was the starting point.

“We just thought, we’d like to make this, they seem to make money out of it, so there’s no reason that we wouldn’t make money out of it.”

“We thought about what kind of game we would like to make, what kind of game we would like to play, and then looked at the market and figured, by what was there, ‘Is this viable financially?’ And Amnesia proved that it could be viable. We just thought, we’d like to make this, they seem to make money out of it, so there’s no reason that we wouldn’t make money out of it — or at least enough money to make a second game. Our whole goal is to remain independent, so as long as we can make the next game, we’re good.”

With Amnesia blazing the trail for a horror game that focused more on horror than shooting, Red Barrels was free to start working on its own take on similar concepts. Outlast finds players locked in an insane asylum in which the inmates have broken free and murdered the guards (and each other).

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