Trick Or Retreat: Outlast Mixes Scares, Mirror’s Edge

By Nathan Grayson on November 1st, 2012 at 8:00 am.

THERE IS SOMETHING ON YOUR SHIRT LET ME GET IT FOR YOU.

Alright now, everyone, gather ’round. I’m going to tell you a ghost story. One especially spooooooooky sunlit morning, we brought you word of Outlast, a PC-only survival-horror scare-a-thon from a group of folks who worked on Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed, and Uncharted. The attached 50-second snippet of footage seemed to hold promise, but tickled fancies more than it did scarybones. Now, though, developer Red Barrels has shoved a camera into the mouth of Outlast’s madness to show us its guts and – somewhat shockingly – they look kind of like Mirror’s Edge. See for yourself after the brea– oh, right, the ghost story. So anyway, it turns out that John is only a cloud of bats that walks and talks like a man. Ghost bats. From outer space.

My feelings on this one are mixed. On one hand, most of the “scares” in that trailer are so predictable that I’ve gotten more of a rush from friends pranking me by leaping out and shouting “boo!” Also, for all of Red Barrels’ ballyhooing about maniacal human enemies, that thing giving chase sure did look supernatural. Then again, it also opted to sneak up on the player at the last minute, so hopefully there’s more to Outlast’s asylum inhabitants than meets the eye.

I really like the apparent focus on running (away) and climbing over running and gunning, though. And did you see? We get to have legs! It saddens me to live in a world where the majority of first person games still haven’t adopted Mirror’s-Edge-style character embodiment mechanics, but I appreciate that Outlast is attempting to get it right. It seems pretty unique in that respect, too. I mean, have we seen any other asylum-bound hair-raisers that put emphasis on level flow, avoiding obstacles, and verticality? I’m also interested in finding out more about what sort of the role the camera will play, given that the main character’s a journalist and all.

So then, to sum up, I am wary of Outlast but also intrigued, and John is bats. It’ll be out in 2013.

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27 Comments »

  1. abigbat says:

    I saw legs! Legs confirmed.

    I’m intrigued. I like the Condemned-esque colour grading, and the shift to high-speed travel could be interesting in a horror setting (Amnesia with parkour?)

    As usual now we just need to wait for less scripted footage to actually get a feel for the game’s systems.

  2. leokhorn says:

    Is this really how the game will look, though? Everything looked scripted in this video, especially whenever hands were interactive with the environment… So maybe they are just showing them in this “proof of concept” video only.

    • S Jay says:

      Yeah, it looks so on rails that I am surprised it is not a train simulator

      • ZIGS says:

        Even though it seems to be ingame, the whole thing is a scripted segment, not gameplay, which is disappointing

  3. Nim says:

    Outcast?!

    No, nevermind. False alarm.

  4. Brossacks says:

    I think they changed the look of the “monsters” for this, since the last trailer. The few frames we saw a clear view of it in the teaser he didn’t have the scars. It’s a shame, becouse I really liked the idea that everything was just terrifying, not ghost zombies.

  5. Davie says:

    The idea of purely human enemies is an interesting one, but the point is completely missed if they’re just glowy-eyed zombie types that roar a lot. That’s just a regular (and uninspired) monster–nothing in that trailer that the crazies did was anything that could not be accomplished by a large dog or, hell, a cave troll.

    Genuinely disturbing human enemies have to be human in more than just appearance–there has to be some indication that they’ve retained some of their humanity but something is very, very off. What comes to mind are the splicers from Bioshock with their creepy rambling and misdirected rage, or the maniacs from Arkham Asylum that sounded less murderous and more mentally stunted–to me they inspired pity but were still terrifying.

    I guess what I’m getting at here is that I hope the developers are making the denizens of the asylum more than just occasionally stealthy fast zombies. It would take away a lot of the horror if they can’t pull that off, which would be a shame in what otherwise looks like a really, really interesting game.

    • Kefren says:

      The hybrids from System Shock 2, with their screaming, begging you to kill them one minute then rambling on about The Many in the next – that captured “still has a sense of humanity and some intelligence whilst also being utterly horrible and alien.”

    • Exuro says:

      Yeah, I certainly thought of the splicers. One of the things that made Bioshock so compelling was the fact that the splicers still retained everything from what they were before, but they were very off. It made them feel like a genuine threat.

  6. Caiman says:

    Not another asylum. I don’t find asylums scary, I find them unpleasant. That just means they’re places I don’t want to be, including in a game. Half the problem is there’s no element of surprise. You pretty much know what to expect, what sights you’re going to see, and what the enemies are going to look like. At least Amnesia’s humanoid creature was horribly disfigured, which was scary enough in itself especially when you didn’t quite know what it looked like (once it was all revealed, the fear dropped off considerably). I think my imagination is far better at scaring me than any developer, so let it do its work.

  7. airtekh says:

    Oh hell yes.

    This kind of thing is right up my street. I do hope the trailer is representative of the gameplay though, because if it is, I’m pre-ordering as soon as I can.

  8. Jake says:

    In Penumbra, Amnesia and Silent Hill I felt sorry for the hero who has been dragged into a situation they don’t want to be in and it’s just getting worse and worse. This guy strolls in through the front door, sees blood and dead bodies everywhere and decides to play hide and seek for a few hours? Not sure I can empathise with such a person. Just go home you fool.

    Despite I guess not having any combat, it reminds me more of Condemned than Amnesia, something about the creature design. After a while, the psychos in Condemned stopped being scary, you saw too much of them and they became quite familiar. In Amnesia your imagination creates a scarier monster than fancy graphics ever can.

    • Grey Ganado says:

      Condemned 2 then introduced a bear, probably the most terrifying enemy I’ve ever seen in a game.

    • Shuck says:

      I’m sure the character has a Really Good Reason for being there. He probably dropped his handkerchief on a previous visit.

  9. maxriderules says:

    I’m never going to play this, because I just can’t get through scary games, but it does look rather good. I’m not so sure that the parkour will work well, though, because it seems like such a cramped environment, and I think using the camera as a torch would have been a lot better if it actually affected gameplay- If the enemies are human, and the camera doesn’t actually project light, how did they find the protagonist in a pitch black room, hidden under a bed?

  10. MichaelPalin says:

    I appreciate the interactivity in games and doing something more than killing and destroying everything that moves, but as a horror game this trailer fails in so many ways…

  11. cunningmunki says:

    I’m honestly surprised that more first person games don’t look and behave more like Mirror’s Edge. That freedom of control was exactly what needed to be injected into a world of FPS games that had become obsessed with cover mechanics, and a myriad of pointless weapon and ammo variations.
    But so few games have incorporated it since, and it’s only been recently when playing Dishonored that I’ve felt a similar kind of freedom of movement.
    Although why does it always have to be a trade-off between running-climbing-jumping and guns? Why can’t we have both? Or have I missed a game that has both?

    • Claidheamh says:

      You might have missed Brink, if you haven’t heard of any game that does that. It was such a gem of a game, shame about the state it was released in.

  12. Shooop says:

    You neatly summarized my own reaction to this.

    I wasn’t startled once by this. I’ve gotten so used to “THERE’S A MONSTER JUST TO YOUR LEFT/RIGHT” trick I can barely manage to roll my eyes.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Dilapinated says:

    I’m sorry to say that this trailer also struck me as one long parade of tired, tired cliches. Hopefully the gameplay will make up for it.

  14. kevmscotland says:

    anyone remember the very first Brothers in Arms, Hells Highway trailer that was suppose to demonstrate the game we were getting.

    First person, lots of interaction with things, true character experience , the shop getting blown up and stuff flying at ‘the player’.

    Then we got the actual game, and they were nothing alike.

    This trailer reminds me of the exact same thing.

  15. Twist says:

    It appears to be most influenced by both Amnesia and Mirror’s Edge, which is a blend I find intriguing.

    A couple of the developers worked on Thief 4 for a while. I wonder if their time with THIAF influenced any aspects of Outlast.

  16. Premium User Badge

    bear912 says:

    Eh, looks like it could be an entertaining asylum romp. I shall keep an eye on it. :)

  17. elmo.dudd says:

    The scariest part is right near the end, the painting on the wall in the last room? For some reason it actually kind of spooked me. The rest was kind of.. eh. I’m still unsure about an adversary that a random guy can knock away with his bare hands, but which apparently slaughtered a whole team of the default guy from Killing Floor.

  18. SelfEsteemFund says:

    Since gameplay is not mentioned & the trailer is poo I have every right to speculate & will happily do so now.. cinematic, high-quality cutscenes & totally scripted interactive movie incoming, I don’t think this could be anymore unimpressive so far =(

  19. denizsi says:

    Reminds me of the 1996 film, Adrenaline:
    imdb.com/title/tt0115471/

  20. SpilledTea says:

    I wonder if you’ve all played the game now, and not just based it off other things and bashing it because of the trailer… If you haven’t and can’t afford it, check youtube. Various youtubers have playthroughs of the game now. :)