|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 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. The Whistleblower DLC centers on Waylon Park, the man who led Miles there in the first place.
Outlast was released for Microsoft Windows on September 4, 2013, PlayStation 4 on February 4, 2014 and for Xbox One on June 19, 2014. Outlast received generally positive reviews from critics, and it was praised for its horror elements and gameplay. Linux and OS X versions were later released on March 31, 2015. As of September 2016, the game has sold three million copies overall.
A sequel, titled Outlast 2, is in production and is scheduled for a Q1 2017 release.
Outlast is 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 parkour: 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 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 that inhumane experiments are being conducted at Mount Massive Asylum, a private psychiatric hospital owned by the notoriously unethical Murkoff Corporation. Entering, Upshur is shocked to discover its halls ransacked and littered with the mutilated corpses of the staff. He is informed by a dying SWAT officer that Mount Massive's deranged patients, known as "Variants", have escaped and are freely roaming the grounds, butchering Murkoff's employees. The officer implores him to leave, but Upshur finds he cannot return the way he came and must press on.
As Miles searches for exit, he is surprised by Chris Walker, a strong and sadistic Variant who hurls him through a window into a lobby, knocking him unconscious. While incapacitated, Miles encounters 'Father' Martin Archimbaud, a self-anointed, schizoaffective priest. The priest claims Miles is his "apostle" and sabotages his escape by cutting off power to the front doors. After evading a Variant in the basement, Miles restores power, but Archimbaud ambushes and injects him with anesthetic. Miles is shown footage of "the Walrider" killing doctors and patients alike, which he claims is responsible for the asylum's ransacking.
Regaining consciousness, Miles finds himself trapped in a decaying cell block filled with catatonic and demented patients. He manages to escape through the sewers to the main wards, pursued by Chris Walker and two cannibalistic Variants known as the Twins, only to be captured by a former Murkoff executive named Rick Trager afflicted simliarly as the other inmates. Trager straps Miles to a wheelchair and amputates two fingers, along with his tongue and genitals if left idle. Upon breaking free and locating the elevator key, Miles activates it and crushes Trager between floors inadvertently when he attempts to follow.
After infiltrating the upper floors and extinguishing a fire by a pyromaniac Variant, Miles enters the courtyard. He glimpses Archimbaud, who tells him to go the chapel, and terrifyingly sees the Walrider pass over him. Reaching an auditorium, Miles learns that the Walrider was created by Dr. Rudolf Gustav Wernicke, a German scientist brought to the United States for Operation Paperclip. Wernicke believed that intensive dream therapy conducted on psychologically-traumatized patients could connect swarms of nanites into a single malevolent being.
Miles eventually finds Archimbaud crucified and self-immolated in the chapel, leaving Miles a key to the atrium elevator that he insists will "take him to freedom". Following another confrontation with Walker, Miles takes the elevator, descending into a basement-level subterranean laboratory. Walker eventually catches Miles, but the Walrider shreds him on a ventilation grate. Miles then locates an aged Wernicke, confirming that the Walrider is a biotechnological nanite entity controlled by Billy Hope, a comatose subject of Murkoff's experiments. He orders Miles to terminate Hope's life support to hopefully disable the Walrider. Miles does; however, just before Billy dies, the Walrider attacks Miles and enters his body. A wounded Miles staggers towards the exit, where Murkoff operatives led by Wernicke shoot him down. As Miles collapses, a horrified Wernicke realizes that Miles is the Walrider's new host. As the screen fades to black, panicked screams, mauling sounds and gunfire are heard.
Waylon Park is a software engineer working at Mount Massive Asylum for Murkoff. His job entails maintaining the Morphogenic Engine, which controls lucid dreaming in comatose individuals. After several experiences working directly with the Engine and uncomfortable torture, he sends an anonymous e-mail to reporter Miles Upshur to expose the corporation. Shortly afterwards Park is summoned to the underground lab's operations center to debug a monitoring system. When he returns, his supervisor, Jeremy Blaire, subjects him to the Morphogenic Engine after having read his email. However, after the Walrider unleashes the catastrophe, Park escapes and takes a camcorder. He roams the increasingly decrepit facility as surviving guards and medical personnel try to evade the newly freed patients, all the while searching for a shortwave radio that he can use to contact the authorities. During this time, he has to consistently elude a bearded cannibal named Frank Manera, who wields a circular saw and unsuccessfully tries to murder him in many ways, including trapping him in a furnace. Just as Park manages to find a working radio transmitter, Blaire appears and attacks Park, destroying the transmitter. He begins to choke Park with a baton while berating him for not keeping his mouth shut. Upon hearing Chris Walker coming, Blaire leaves him to die, but Park escapes Walker through a window.
Park eventually jumps into the asylum's attic, where Dennis, a dissociative Variant, plots to capture and offer him to Eddie Gluskin, whom he calls "the Groom". Park escapes Dennis, and initially eludes Gluskin, but falls into an elevator shaft and injures his leg, reducing him to a limp. This ultimately allows Gluskin to capture Park, who then witnesses Gluskin sexually mutilate men because he seeks to create "the perfect bride". Park is tied up to a table for mutilation when another prisoner attacks Gluskin, granting escape. After killing the other prisoner, Gluskin returns to hang Park in a gymnasium with his other victims, but during the struggle, he becomes entangled in his pulley system and impaled by a loose metal bar.
At daybreak, Murkoff's paramilitary teams arrive at the asylum, intent on killing anything they see. Park slips past them and hightails it for the main lobby. There, he finds a gravely wounded Blaire, who stabs him suddenly, insisting that no one can know the truth about Mount Massive, but the Walrider kills him before he can finish Park off. Park then stumbles out the open front door and towards Miles Upshur's jeep, which is still idling near the main gates. He puts the jeep into gear and drives through both gates as Upshur, now the Walrider's host, helps him escape.
In the epilogue, Park is sitting at a laptop with the videos ready for upload to expose the Murkoff Corporation. An associate informs him that it will be more than enough to ruin Murkoff, but is warned that they will then seek to destroy him and his family. Despite hesitation, Park uploads the file and closes the laptop.
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 PlayStation 4 version was launched on May 6, 2014, in North America and on May 7, 2014, in Europe, and the Xbox One version launched on June 18 in North America and Europe.
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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.
Outlast 2 was originally set to release in late 2016 but delayed to early 2017. It is set in the same universe of the first game, but it features brand new characters and a new region set in the Arizona desert.
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