About Outlast in General – Also on Nintendo Switch

Navigating the dark sewers on the Switch

Monstrous catastrophe named Outlast 2 She left behind a treacherously persistent thought: maybe the problem is not in the sequel at all? He certainly made a mess of things, but what if the issue lies in the very idea itself, which has become banal and no longer works properly since the first part. As it is known, every mainstream horror movie is a product of its time, and much of what was scary five years ago is unlikely to frighten even a shabby streamer today.

I didn’t really want to test whether this rule applies to the original Outlast. But it would be unfair to miss out on the recently released game on Switch, so we still returned to the walls of the abandoned asylum “Mount Massive”, ready to be thoroughly disappointed in one of the best modern horror games.

Fortunately, there were no reasons for disappointment. Outlast still knows how to instill fear, even on the small screen of the Nintendo console.

Scaling treacherous Mount Massive

Fear and Loathing in Mount Massive

Our protagonist-reporter’s decision to visit the mentioned mental institution at night was clearly not a smart one, but there is no need to condemn him. Journalists, they are a curious bunch, always seeking sensations. And what could be more sensational than a story about saving one’s own life in the den of deranged maniacs armed with machetes? That’s right. Professional interests come first.

Artificial intelligence skillfully gets on one’s nerves, getting as close as possible, but more often than not gives in and leaves the player alone when it seems like all hope is lost.

Despite visiting during non-working hours, life in the institution immediately starts buzzing as soon as you step over the coveted threshold. Security guards loudly munch on their own insides in the corners, patients in the hall further down the corridor watch the bloodied television together, and from time to time, a frightened preacher emerges from the darkness, erasing the local sect, or a smiling thug who recognized us as his “little piggy”. In general, colorful characters.

Especially considering that almost all of them want to kill us.

Exploring eerie corridors

I remember you…

“The hero relies on only two tools to deal with the local population – his left leg and his right leg, respectively. Carefully shuffling along the walls of the clinic with them, he avoids unwanted contact with psychopaths of all kinds, and quick limb movements come in handy in situations where contact has already been established. In fact, Outlast is entirely built on a combination of stealth and swift pursuits, but both elements are executed so concisely and effectively that they don’t become tiresome until the end.

Every time the need to hide arises, a true thriller unfolds, reminiscent of” that very scene from “The Silence of the Lambs” Crawling through hospital rooms often has to be done in complete darkness, relying only on the night vision mode of your video camera, which drains the batteries faster than Jodie Foster makes bad movies. The opponents wandering around the area do not make the task any easier: they open nearby lockers, peek under beds, menacingly pant and do everything possible to create the appearance that they will find you any moment.

Interestingly, they don’t always find you. The artificial intelligence skillfully plays with your nerves, getting as close as possible, but often succumbs and leaves the player alone when it seemed like all hope was lost. A similar trick was later used in… Alien: Isolation, and on repeated playthroughs it is particularly noticeable. However, it is still better than the blatant cheating of the sequel, where country boys determined your location with the precision of a GPS navigator.

A tense moment of being spotted

But if you do find yourself in a fight, it’s not an option. The only way out is to run away as fast as possible. Outlast literally pulls you out of your comfort zone in these moments, rapidly increasing the pace and forcing you to rush through tight interiors in search of new hiding places. The level of anxiety skyrockets when all you see ahead is pitch darkness, and a deranged brute is chasing you from behind, its aggressive grunting unpleasantly tickling the back of your neck.

Escape, hide, move to the next location, hide, escape – this is the essence of the entertainment program here. The conditions become harsher each time, the layout becomes more intricate, and the enemies, along with their piercing and slashing, also expose their genitals – just for added intimidation – but the overall essence remains intact.

At the same time, you never get the impression that the game is set against you. Yes, its inhabitants make you feel outnumbered, constantly sensing danger in the air, but the game design does not emit hostility. Quite the opposite.

Rarely does a chase end in a dead end here because the levels are designed in such a way that there is always an opportunity to shake off your pursuers at any point, and their structure is logical and understandable even to an agitated brain desperately trying to find the optimal route to safety. The same applies to the aforementioned AI algorithms, the proper rhythm of episodes, the absence of unnecessary mechanics like healing, and everything else that makes up the final experience. In every detail, Outlast strives to be a horror game that is not only scary but also captivating.

Trapped in a chilling cell

And yes, this is another reproach towards the second part, which disregarded this aspiration from a high bell tower, cutting out all the best from the predecessor’s formula and filling the resulting gaps with shock content featuring cave mutants. The result, as they say, is obvious.

It is also pleasant that the original does not play with its pointless plot and rolls the credits at the end of the fifth hour. Just at the moment when you still want more, but stretching the pleasure a little longer would be excessive.

In every detail, Outlast strives to be a horror game that is not only scary, but also thrilling.

Here, the wonderful Whistleblower add-on will come to the aid of the most hungry, where under the pretext of telling the same story, but from a different perspective, equally wonderful scenes are played out with crazy characters, one of whom, by the way, strongly wants to make the new hero his bride. The author’s style in the DLC has become much more confident, and therefore the add-on is almost scarier than the main game. Although it is worth using as a set, of course.

A gruesome microwave scene

Pocket horrors

To be honest, I was skeptical about the release of the Switch version for a long time because the main advantage of the console – its portability – seemed to be the main enemy of all the values of Outlast. How can we talk about atmosphere and fear if you can, excuse me, play the game in a cozy bed and complete it on a tiny tablet?

However, field tests revealed the opposite. I spent most of the time in portable mode and was captivated by the sophisticated charm of the horror game just as much as I was on PC in 2013. The main thing is to have good headphones. The sound and music in Outlast contribute a lot, so relying on the modest speakers of the Switch is not worth it.

The port also spoils with its performance. Everything is as promised – the console maintains a steady 30 frames per second both in handheld mode at a resolution of 720p and when connected to a TV, where the picture is brought close to 1080p. And this is with minimal losses in terms of graphics: if you look closely, you can only notice slightly lower quality shadows and pixels in secondary importance textures.

Confronting terrifying twins

The only thing that bothers is the lack of control parameters. Usually, it’s not something that catches your eye, but when for the umpteenth time I accidentally replaced the battery in the camera while trying to close another door, I had no strength left to endure or get used to it. As it turned out, you can’t assign buttons to your liking here – please choose one of the three equally inconvenient presets that annoys you the least.

They don’t even let you turn off the extremely intrusive vibration that accompanies every other event in the game. Touched the door handle? Bzzz! The enemy is causing a ruckus in the next room? Bzzzzz! Got hit on the head? Bzzzzzzz! Died? BZZZZZZ! Moreover, the controllers buzz two to three times stronger than anywhere else, causing a slight but quite uncomfortable discomfort.

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It’s still gratifying to see that Outlast remains relevant. Now you can safely attribute all the problems of the sequel to the sequel and continue to love the original game just as much as before. Of course, after years, it is evident that it occasionally relies too much on jump scares, there are noticeable workarounds and conventions, and the claustrophobia bordering on low-budgetness is felt more sharply – but that’s its charm, unique and incomparable.

And just as specific as the newfound ability to visit an abandoned psychiatric hospital without getting out of bed.

PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Action, Adventure
Red Barrels
Red Barrels
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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