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
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.