The developers at Red Barrels are clearly tired of making only single-player horror games, so they’ve moved on to something else and attempted to create a co-op session horror movie. And so, the game The Outlast Trials was born.
What it turned out to be, what the game that was released on May 18 for Microsoft Windows and GeForce Now looks like, you’ll find out in the rest of this review.
Do Your Best to Get Out
Let’s start, perhaps, with a simple plot, which is largely based on where the first installment left off. The Murkoff Corporation deals with scientific development and conducts various, to say the least, “non-traditional” studies of the human psyche. For these experiments, an ad had to be placed in the newspaper, to which a certain number of renegades from society responded.
After that, they live in one of the organization’s secret testing grounds and for the promised release they’ll have to complete several tasks in particularly extreme conditions. Players become test subjects or subjects in experiments, which means that as they play the game, they’ll have to experience all the horrors of the experiments themselves. The simplest start doesn’t expand Outlast’s narrative in any way, but that’s not a problem, in our opinion.
The first introductory mission will introduce players to the main mechanics and allow them to learn a brief history of a character who destroyed all information about his life to enter a secret corporation. Before starting each mission, players will hear almost useless and very humorous instructions from the doctor. Uncovering the details of Murkoff’s activities is only possible with the help of evidence hidden in the locations. There are quite a few of them, but without a careful study of the territory, it will be very difficult to discover all the information.
The Outlast series is primarily known for its fun gameplay and quite good game mechanics. In the first sequel, there was a minimalist approach to survival, the second sequel tried to deepen it, and Trials brought something new. So, let’s get to the gameplay.
Survive! If You Can…
The Outlast Trials offers players the ability to run several programs, complete trials, and visit their locations, which are several: a police station, an amusement park, an orphanage, and a season map. At the beginning of the game, you only need to choose a level and a task, and you’re ready to complete it. There’s a total of four missions available per program, however, only the opening two missions provide a unique story.
Further tasks only complicate the initial task. We’ll try not to go into too much detail, so as not to spoil the impressions. Based on the first mission, which was also present in the beta version of the game, we’ll try to explain as much as can be explained about the action and the way of playing the game. Your goal is to search the location; you go inside, try to find the key, and find the informant, then turn on the power, and drag the informant from one point to another while opening the locked door and trying to escape the location.
Although this concept may seem very interesting, which it truly is, especially for the first few hours, the fact is that things can become repetitive and a bit boring very quickly, especially if you aren’t used to these types of games and prefer “run ‘n’ gun” gameplay, such as is present in Resident Evil 4 Remake, for example.
What’s the Problem Here?
In our opinion, the main and biggest problem is that, when looking for some items, you can very easily get lost among the huge number of rooms. For example, the first time you pass the police station, it may take you almost an hour to complete all the tasks, of which we spent a good half of the time actively looking for the keys to the locked main door while moving the informant around various places on the map. Of course, when reviewing the program again, this process is a little easier, but everything is more or less the same; there are no novelties or RNG situations, which will lead to an inevitable loss of interest for players who aren’t fans of the genre and/or game.
The general concept doesn’t change in any way, but the gameplay directly depends on the player’s actions. There are always several enemies in the location, from which you’ll have to hide; you’ll hide from them by using dark environments or different places that will serve as shelters. You can try to quickly escape and take a safe position, but this will be useful only in a critical situation, that is, after the enemies have found you.
Let’s not forget here the various traps, which are randomly scattered around the locations, as well as a large number of rooms without light. As in all previous games in the series, the user can use the camera, but its battery is not unlimited, so in most cases, you’ll have to settle for minimal lighting in search of batteries. We definitely liked this and welcome this kind of design that definitely adds to the horror atmosphere. All players who enjoyed the first two sequels will recognize the well-known design that adds to the atmosphere. But batteries aren’t the only items you can find in The Outlast Trials game.
Items You Can Find in the Game, Besides Batteries
Of the items, not counting the aforementioned batteries, there are healing agents, gas antidotes, master keys, adrenaline shots that will bring your colleagues back to life, and other items. If you’re skilled enough, you can stun enemies with well-aimed throwing objects, but in that case, you’ll need to quickly change your position and take cover in another part of the location because after they recover from a hit or a hit, there’s a good chance they’ll find you if you don’t switch to some other place. We also praise this mechanic, as we feel that it adds to the tension of the situation. One good hit can mean the difference between being found or not being found and getting from point A to point B.
In addition, after fully completing any program, players will receive a special currency with which they can unlock auxiliary skills. Stun will help you temporarily incapacitate your opponent, the smoke screen will allow you to cover the entire area with smoke, thus disorienting the enemy, healing is useful as the word itself suggests, and x-rays will help detect opponents. Each ability can be further upgraded, but even without these abilities, it’s quite possible to complete all tasks. With a careful study of the environment, the environment and the objects in it should be enough for you to pass the levels with a minimum number of “Game Over” screens.
The Game Is, All in All, Totally Horror-Oriented
The total horror orientation of Outlast will appeal to fans of the series, as well as to newcomers. Fans of the horror atmosphere will definitely find their way in the third installment of the game. From dark corridors to bloody rooms you don’t want to go into, but most of the time you have to, the game wants to keep you on your toes the entire time you play it, and it mostly succeeds in that. In addition to unexpected activations of traps and the appearance of enemies, players will surely fall under the influence of poisonous gas, which affects the psyche of the playable character. Without the use of an antidote, the gas works by “fogging” the player’s mind, which is reflected in the player seeing a distorted image of reality, which will subsequently lead to hallucinations; at different intervals, even a dark silhouette will appear that can attack you. Very effective, very scary, and very well thought out!
In the final phase of the program, things naturally become even more difficult and demanding. When you leave locations, enemies will start looking for players more actively, which will require the player to put in extra effort and pay attention to the sounds of what’s happening in the environment. If you remember well the passages you went through and if you know which rooms are smaller and which are more dangerous or where there’s a greater chance of enemies finding you, it will greatly help you in your escape. The only minus, so to speak, with this is that things are more or less the same with the next missions. Once you learn how the game works, which you’ll learn in the first mission, everything will be clear to you in the future.
Some players may come to the conclusion that The Outlast Trials resembles Dead by Daylight, one of the rare pure horror-genre titles that found its way to eSports and everything included in the market, such as eSports betting sites, in many ways. It may seem that way at first, but when you dig a little deeper under the surface, you can see that Red Barrels has done a lot to make Outlast a unique experience, although maybe with a little bit of what we already had the chance to see in DbD.
The Outlast Trials tries to introduce some new things to the players along with the already well-known and well-established game mechanics. If you’ve played the first two sequels, this Outlast will feel like you’re on familiar turf. Many of the things that were present there are also present here. The basics are there: hiding and running away from various pursuers. For that, you’ll need to use the camera here as well, but apart from the well-known camera, the gameplay has been upgraded, which is evident in many aspects.
What is The Outlast Trials like in itself? If you ask us, we’d recommend this game to anyone who wants to have a good time. Is the game perfect and bug-free? Far from it, but which game is? What’s clear is that Outlast has great potential, both for fans of the genre and series and for newcomers, especially if you’re ready for a good horror in multiplayer mode.