Outlast PAX East Hands-On: Jumping Right Out of the Booth

As you might have deciphered from following Game Front’s Horrorscope series (Written by Phil Hornshaw), we really like horror titles. Some of the best work being done in the horror genre right now is being done by indie studios, so when I got the chance to try a demo of Outlast – a brand new horror game from Red Barrels – at PAX East last weekend, I jumped at the chance.

As we learned when Outlast was announced, you are journalist Miles Upshur. You’ve heard rumors of patients at the Mount Massive Asylum in Colorado being mistreated, and so you head there to try and get the story. Upon arriving, you find all the doors locked and no way in. Undaunted and in pursuit of the story, you climb a scaffolding and enter through a high window. That’s when the… fun… begins.

You see, Outlast isn’t a shooter. It’s not a brawler. In fact, there’s no fighting at all. Your only option is to run away and hide. Oh, and you didn’t bring a flashlight. If you want to see when things get dark, you’ll have to use the nightshot mode on your camcorder, which turns everything black and white. It also limits your field of view to what the camera lens can see. If it sounds restrictive, it is. It’s also nerve-wracking walking through a pitch dark room, hearing noises around you, and trying to point your camcorder in seven directions at once.

As you proceed through the asylum, you’ll find dead bodies, blood, and tons of other evidence that things have gone horribly wrong. The atmosphere is oppressive, and occasional glimpses of shadowy movement let you know you aren’t alone. Once you finally come face to face with what’s in the asylum with you, you’ll find out just how important running away is. If you can find a dark place to hide and escape, you’ll spend the rest of your time trying to avoid notice. Unfortunately, you’ll likely fail at that.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the actual contents of the demo, as the terrifying parts are best experienced for yourself. What I will say is that the demo I played did a great job of balancing buildup and payoff, and that the jump scares Red Barrels set up are perfectly placed. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I almost jumped completely out of the booth I was playing in.

Obviously, a 10 minute demo isn’t necessarily indicative of what the full game will hold, but if it is, fans of the horror genre are going to have a great time with Outlast. I certainly enjoyed the demo, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store when the game launches later this year.

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the full version of the Outlast trailer.

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3 Comments on Outlast PAX East Hands-On: Jumping Right Out of the Booth

Swcloud99

On March 28, 2013 at 11:32 am

Wow, that looks spectacular. Is that from an Indie studio?

Ron Whitaker

On March 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm

@Swcloud99 Yeah, it’s from Red Barrels. It’s a small studio, but they have some experienced devs in there. Their experience list includes Prince of Persia, Uncharted, Splinter Cell, and Assassin’s Creed.

R.J.

On March 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm

It seems like the success of games like Slender are at least getting studios to reconsider the horror genre. Or at least the indie studios know they need to bring something that the big studios haven’t offered in years.