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The Blackout Club emerges from the horrors of early access

Freak out

If your cult leans into a certain kind of kooky, pop culture has taught me there's a good chance some kids will come after you. The brave stalwarts of The Blackout Club have spent the past eight months defending humanity from the weakened prism of early access, but now the game's properly out and they'll have to step up their game. The spooky, co-opey stealth and hijinks 'em up is marking its launch with a new area. That would be a daycare centre, described by developers Question as "perfectly normal".

Mhmmmm.

The centre, including some outsidey bits, is "close to the size of the two existing above ground areas combined". That's the only substantial addition with Blackout Club 1.0, but it's a biggun. The full patch notes are here.

I jumped in to have a poke around but couldn't find it, which means it's either not accessible at first or I am very bad at navigation. My progress has been wiped since I checked out the early access launch, so my money's on the former.

I enjoyed my time in the club, despite it feeling a tad empty. It's played in sessions that last twenty minutes or so, and piecemeal missions struck me as hollow when not attached to a broader purpose. I know one of the dev's goals was to tie incremental success to a larger story, though. I dunno if they've succeeded, but I've made plans to jump back in with my old crew tonight and find out.

Since we last played they've also added traitors and an "enhanced horror system" that tries to freak you out by recording your mic and playing stuff back at you. Note that when you launch the game a pop up asks you if you're cool with your audio "being shared with the community", but the site FAQ specifies the recordings are only used in-game. I don't want my breathing used in an advert, but I'm totally on board with clever mid-session spooking.

That said, this is a game of hijinks over horror, more about giggling at cascading disasters than the suspense that builds up to them. Last second escapes like this one can be sublime:

"We raced to a staircase, with nowhere to go but up… until we had no more up to go. I was convinced we were done for – that my friend had left his hook behind, having bowed to the wisdom of tranq darts. 'Quick Dan', I teased, 'save us with your grappling hook!' Then he did.

That panicked, gleeful leap for the rope contained nearly everything The Blackout Club can be. There’s something beautifully appropriate about a last second escape route saving the day thanks to one stubborn club member."

Fear is rarely social, but panic is best with friends.

The Blackout Club is available on Steam for £24/$30/€25. Note that's about £8 more than the early access price, which Question did mention was gonna go up.

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