Outlast: The Whistleblower DLC Review: Leaner, More Disturbing

The screams in the darkness of Mount Massive Asylum aren’t quite as frightening this time around, but the tension of straining to place the sounds coming out of the black is the same.

It’s difficult to conjure up the same level of fear for a place once you’ve spent hours searching through it and avoiding its dangers, and yet The Whistleblower, the downloadable add-on chapter for Outlast, manages to plumb new horrors from the depths of its blood-drenched setting. It’s Outlast on fast-forward, taking players back through the original game at a faster clip, throwing many of the same experiences their way in a leaner, tuned-up form.

In many ways, that works for this chapter. Outlast was an intense experience I rather enjoyed the first time out and Whistleblower revisits what I liked about the stock release. Gone — for the most part — are the most confusing issues with getting lost in certain areas of the hospital, or lengthy stints spent hiding, trying to figure out what to do next. Whistleblower is mostly a quicker version of what came before, and that allows it to be heavy on intensity without outlasting (ahem) players’ patience.

But the DLC also feels a bit overwrought at times, while not quite exploring some of its more interesting ideas. The corporation is just so evil. The protagonist is just so angry and self-righteous about those profit-grubbing sciency jerks. And in those few moments of body horror replacing jump scares, The Whistleblower slides hard into torture porn-esque shock value and can become difficult to play through.

Outlast: The Whistleblower DLC
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Playstation 4
Developer: Red Barrels
Publisher: Red Barrels
Released: May 6, 2013
MSRP: $8.99
Available on Steam

Outlast put players in the body of Miles Upshur, a journalist who enters Mount Massive Asylum in Colorado to investigate the allegedly dark dealings of the Murkoff Corporation and the experiments it’s performing on patients there. From a first-person perspective, players have to find their way through the asylum, armed with only a camera that lets them see in the dark and a “feets don’t fail me now” attitude. It’s all about running from threats, hiding from threats, and sneaking past threats.

It’s Outlast on fast-forward, throwing many of the same experiences players’ way in a leaner, tuned-up form.

And The Whistleblower doesn’t stray from what Outlast set out. Acting as a bookend to the stock experience’s story, players control Wayland Park, a software engineer working at Mount Massive who tries to leak information about the asylum to the outside world. It’s Park’s email that draws Miles to the asylum to begin with; of course, Park is quickly captured by his evil corporate overlords and interred and experimented on in the very system he hoped to expose.

So from a story perspective, The Whistleblower lets players see the beginnings of the events entered in medias res in last year’s title. Park has to sneak through Mount Massive on an opposite trajectory to Miles, heading for the front door, and hits a lot of the same locations, meets a few of the same people, and gets up to a lot of the same kind of stuff. That is, trying desperately not to be killed.

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6 Comments on Outlast: The Whistleblower DLC Review: Leaner, More Disturbing

TAG

On May 7, 2014 at 7:26 am

“Climax scene has shades of real sexual violence that can make it feel exploitative; it’s certainly going to be highly disturbing to some players”

Ugh, that’s a massive spoiler if by climax you mean ‘ending’. I don’t mind the warning of graphic sexual content, nor mentioning specifically what that is, but specifying WHEN it occurs constitutes a massive spoiler.

I hope I’m interpreting that wrongly.

lol

On May 7, 2014 at 7:52 am

Just because something has sexual violence in it does not make it exploitative. Would you rather the games industry pretend it doesn’t happen?

Phil Hornshaw

On May 7, 2014 at 9:20 am

@Tag

Not the ending scene, just the biggest sequence in the DLC.

Phil Hornshaw

On May 7, 2014 at 9:27 am

@lol

I agree with you that the mere inclusion of sexual violence doesn’t necessarily make it exploitative, there was just a lot running through my head through that scene. It drew up in me all those things I mentioned — I kinda recoiled from it when I played it. Later, on reflection, I started to find things in it that I thought were interesting and maybe even important — the idea of “flipping the script” a bit on sexual violence and creating an experience for a certain kind of player that that player never experiences. So then my revulsion to the scene felt different.

My overall point is that, I think, there’s a line. Exploitation is possible explanation, or at least just shock value for shock value’s sake. But if there was a deeper plan at work in The Whistleblower, then I find it to be very interesting one. But my overall point in bringing it up was not that it’s exploitative on its face, but there are aspects of it that gave me pause. I think there was more going on there then just making male players go “Ugh” and making them imagine what that would feel like. And I hope there is, because it’s much more interesting that way.

Mad Grendel

On May 7, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Umm yeah, they just ruined the game for me with this DLC. The whole groom sequence was totally uncalled for and makes you question what type of people are making this game. FFS I mean really? That was just a little too much, there’s no need for torture porn in video games, especially to this degree OMFWTFH!!!.

Sorry Red Barrels, you had a good thing going here but you kind of blew it for me….. pretty sure I won’t be checking out any further Outlast material or anything like this from you guys again. The story was awesome enough without it, this simply just takes your mind to places you should never be going and that’s not for me. If you want to see sick ass like this, maybe you are the ones who need to be put in an asylum.. This is the kind of that gives borderline crazies ideas and then act upon them.

Mad Grendel

On May 7, 2014 at 2:35 pm

And yes lol, I would very much rather the game industry and every industry not make money off of things of this nature. Horror is one thing, turning mens s into vaginas with a table saw in the hopes they stay alive long enough to fornicate with them, and actually damn near showing the whole thing is where you cross the line, actually it’s way over the line.

That’s just my opinion and probably because I’m not ed in the head like these guys.