|Writer(s)||J. T. Petty|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3.5|
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows
Outlast is a first-person survival horror video game developed and published by Canadian company Red Barrels. The game revolves around a freelance investigative journalist, Miles Upshur, who decides to investigate a remote psychiatric hospital situated deep in the mountains of Lake County, Colorado.
Outlast was released for Microsoft Windows on September 4, 2013 and on February 4, 2014 for PlayStation 4 plus users. Outlast generally received positive reviews from critics and it was praised for its horror elements and gameplay. Linux and OS X versions were released on March 31, 2015.
Outlast centers around a story driven survival campaign told in first-person narrative and set in a dilapidated psychiatric hospital overrun by homicidal patients. Its presentation is similar to the found footage genre popularized in horror films. The protagonist, reporter Miles Upshur, is incapable of combat, except for scripted sequences allowing him to shove enemies out of his way. Without any traditional weapons, players have to navigate the facility's ransacked environment with freerunning: vaulting over low obstacles, crawling, and sliding through narrow gaps. In addition, Miles may survive encounters with assailants by hiding inside staff lockers or under beds; more intelligent opponents may search the room for an allocated period before moving on.
Miles carries with him only a notebook and a camcorder, with which he plans to document the horrors within the asylum. It has a night vision option for use in the asylum's many unlit sections. Use of the IR mode consumes batteries, which must be scavenged and replaced as the storyline progresses. Plot details unfold through notes taken by the protagonist as footage is recorded through his camera, as well as manila folders scavenged from the environment.
Miles Upshur, a freelance investigative journalist, receives an anonymous tip from a source identified only as a whistleblower. The lead tells of inhumane experiments committed at Mount Massive Asylum, a remote psychiatric hospital situated deep in the mountains of Lake County, Colorado and owned by the Murkoff Corporation, known for its corrupt dealings. Entering the asylum, Upshur is horrified to discover the mutilated corpses of the staff, including a dying SWAT officer who warns him to get out while he still can. As he investigates further, Upshur finds the asylum's patients, known as "Variants", freely roaming the grounds and hostile towards him, particularly a hulking sadist named Chris Walker. Approached by Martin Archimbaud, a cult leader who considers himself a priest, Upshur is told he was sent by "God" to be his witness to the night's events. It soon becomes clear that Archimbaud has no intention of letting Miles escape, and that he worships a seemingly supernatural entity known only as The Walrider, which he claims caused the breakout.
Trapped inside, Upshur is forced to work his way through Mount Massive and evade several Variants, including a pursuing Walker, and a pair of cannibalistic twins. Chased through the male wards, Upshur is rescued by a descending dumbwaiter, only to be captured by a delusional Murkoff executive named Richard "Rick" Trager. Trager, a "doctor" who experiments on patients, straps Upshur to a wheelchair and amputates two of his fingers. Left briefly alone, Miles manages to escape into an elevator. Grabbed by Trager while the elevator is still moving, a struggle ensues which results in Trager being crushed between floors. Upshur then encounters Archimbaud again along with The Walrider, which Upshur can only see either up close or through his camera's IR mode. Reaching an auditorium with a playing reel, Upshur learns The Walrider was created by Dr. Rudolf Gustav Wernicke, a German scientist taken in by Operation Paperclip. Wernicke was developing a "Morphogenic Engine" for Nazi Germany, which employs severe psychological trauma and dream therapy to generate a malevolent nanite-driven being.
Locating Martin in the asylum's chapel, Upshur witnesses his self-immolation on a crucifix. Told he can escape by an elevator, Upshur uses it, only to descend into an underground research facility beneath the institution. Followed and attacked by Walker, Upshur watches as The Walrider gruesomely murders him. Upshur learns from an aged Dr. Wernicke that The Walrider is a result of nanotechnology experiments, and that it is being "hosted" by catatonic patient Billy Hope. Instructed to shut off Hope's life support system, Upshur does so, but is immediately seized by the weakened and hostless Walrider. He staggers towards the exit, where a security team led by Wernicke fires upon him, intent on hiding everything that has occurred. As Upshur collapses, Wernicke realizes that Miles is the Walrider's new host, and panicked screams and gunshots are heard as the screen fades to black and the credits roll.
Whistleblower downloadable content
The downloadable content, Outlast: Whistleblower serves as an overlapping prequel to the original game. The plot follows Waylon Park, the anonymous tipster to Miles Upshur and shows the events both before and after the main plotline. The Microsoft Windows version of Whistleblower was released on May 6, 2014 worldwide, the Xbox One launched on June 18 in North America and Europe, coinciding with the release, and the PlayStation 4 version was launched on May 6, 2014 in North America and on May 7, 2014 in Europe.
Waylon Park is a software engineer working at Mount Massive for the Murkoff Corporation. After several encounters working directly with the Morphogenic Engine and witnessing the torture that the inmates are forced to endure, he decides to send an email to Miles Upshur reporting on the corruption of Mount Massive. Shortly after sending it, he is caught by his employer, Jeremy Blaire. As punishment, Blaire has Park committed and forced to endure the tests of the Morphogenic Engine. However, after the Walrider breaks free and begins causing chaos at Mount Massive, Park manages to escape his restraints, taking a camcorder with him. He roams the facility as surviving guards and personnel try to escape from the newly freed prisoners, trying to find a radio that he can use to contact the authorities. During this time, he consistently eludes a bearded, cannibalistic prisoner named Frank Manera, who wields a mechanical circular saw blade and tries to kill him in many ways, including trapping him in a furnace. Just as Park manages to find a radio, Blaire appears and destroys it, insisting that no one can reveal the secret of Mount Massive. He leaves Park to die at the hands of Chris Walker, only for Park to escape.
Park eventually wanders into a secluded area of the Female Ward, where a variant by the name of Dennis, inflicted with dissociative identity disorder, captures and offers him as a sacrifice to a prisoner named Eddie Gluskin, whom he calls "The Groom". While initially eluding Gluskin, Park falls into an elevator shaft and gets a piece of debris lodged in his right shin, reducing him to a limp. Park is eventually captured, where he discovers how Gluskin repeatedly tortures and mutilates male prisoners' genitals, treating them like his brides (as there are no real women stationed at the asylum for him to torture) before brutally killing them. He attempts to kill Park in the same way, but Park manages to escape at the last second with the help of another prisoner who attacks Gluskin. After Gluskin kills the other prisoner and returns to kill Park by hanging him in a gymnasium full of hanging bodies, Park puts up enough resistance so that Gluskin is caught up in the multiple ropes of his pulley system, and eventually impaled by a loose wooden beam.
As daylight finally breaks, Park continues throughout the asylum, discovering that Murkoff's paramilitary forces have already arrived at the scene and are killing every person they see. Park manages to elude them as they are all killed by the Walrider and makes it to the main atrium. There he finds a wounded Blaire, lying against the front door and pleading for help. However, as Park approaches, Blaire stabs him in the stomach with a glass shard, declaring that no one can know the truth. But before he can deliver the finishing blow, he is attacked and killed by the Walrider. Park staggers out the open front door and past the military vehicles, towards a red Jeep waiting by the security gate. As Park enters the Jeep and starts it up, he notices a dark figure: Miles Upshur's Walrider-sustained broken body, slowly exiting the asylum with a dark mist surrounding it. He manages to escape and slam through the entry gates just as the figure exits the asylum.
In the epilogue scene, a fully recovered Park has gotten in contact with a leaking organization to submit his secret information on Murkoff to. Park is sitting at a laptop with the video file of all his recorded video from the asylum, ready to be uploaded to the internet. A man associated with the leaking website standing in front of his desk informs him that it will be more than enough evidence to ruin the Murkoff Corporation, but warns Park that doing so will result in Murkoff doing everything it can to punish him in return, including threatening his family. Despite some initial hesitation, Park ultimately decides to take the risk and uploads the video, as the credits roll once he closes the laptop.
Outlast received positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox One version 80.00% based on 3 reviews and 80/100 based on 5 reviews, the Microsoft Windows version 79.95% based on 37 reviews and 80/100 based on 59 reviews and the PlayStation 4 version 77.16% based on 19 reviews and 78/100 based on 33 reviews. It has been received with a number of accolades and awards from E3 2013, including the "Most Likely to Make you Faint" honor, and one of "Best of E3".
The PC gaming website Rock, Paper, Shotgun gave Outlast a very positive review, noting that "Outlast is not an experiment in how games can be scary, it’s an exemplification." Marty Sliva of IGN rated the game with a score of 7.8, praising the horror elements and gameplay while criticizing the environments and character modeling.
On October 23, 2014, Red Barrels co-founder Philippe Morin confirmed a sequel to be in development. The sequel, a new survival horror game set in the same universe as the original Outlast, would present a different location and different characters.
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