Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
As a survival horror fan, I was at first willing to overlook the asylum-set Outlast’s [official site] stigmatisation of issues of mental health because it was a concept I thought otherwise sounded interesting. A combat-less scare fest that swaps Amnesia’s gas lantern for a camcorder with diminishing battery power? That’ll do me. But then I discovered its real horror: the batteries themselves.
You see, each and every set of batteries found strewn around Outlast’s Mount Massive Asylum is the same size. For me, this became equally as terrifying as the institute’s volatile patients and blood-splattered hallways. Who stocks so many AA batteries in the one place? They’re not in packaging, so why are they all fully charged? And what do they do when the TV remote runs out of juice? I mean, they’ve got to be AAA, right? As I delved deeper into the institute I was left with more questions than answers and was overcome with the ominous unease of knowing every battery, the battery of batteries I knew I’d happen upon, would fit my camera.
Stuff all the repetitive jump scares and hiding in lockers and big burly chain-dragging man-beasts chasing after you, this was the horror I just couldn’t see past.
And don’t get me started on protagonist Miles Upshur’s inability to negotiate IKEA shelving units that somehow create formidable hallway obstacles. Surely if you’re that keen on getting the story – you’ve broken into an abandoned hospital in the middle of the bloody night, after all – you could muster the strength to nudge them out of the way? Intrepid reporter my arse.