September 6, 2013 7:00 AM | Anthony Swinnich
I'll come right out and say it: Outlast is the scariest game since Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Red Barrels has crafted a game where I'm afraid to even look around a corner, much less open a simple door. Most of the time there's nothing on the other side, though that's never a relief because every once in a while what's there is probably trying to viciously end my life.
Armed only with a video camera, your trip to investigate the secrets of a long-abandoned but recently-repurposed mental hospital becomes more than you could have bargained for. The inside is savagely trashed with bloody pools on the floors and limp corpses strewn about and hung from the ceiling. It's clear right from the beginning that something awful has happened here. But like any true intelligent character in a horror tale, you press on, willfully ignorant that you're probably next in line to become a part of the psychotic decor.
Every step you take in Mount Massive Asylum is laced with terror because you're so deeply in over your head. The asylum grounds house some truly frightening characters, made even scarier by your complete inability to go on the offensive. They're strong and deadly, so your ability to run is a welcome mechanic. You'll need to find a safe place to hide, so be sure to learn the rooms you're exploring well. The inside of a locker or area beneath a bed may be the thing that prevents your insides from painting the walls. The scariest moments may be when you've successfully dodged death, knowing you have to leave your safe haven and put yourself at risk again.
The video camera is also pretty useful survival tool. Its view can zoom down long hallways, providing you some much needed recon. It can also see in the dark through its night-vision mode, which is great because most of the lights are broken. Unfortunately, the battery drains rather quickly in this mode. You'll find replacements throughout the game, though judicious use of this ability is advised as running out is practically a death sentence. You'll likely bound right into your assailants if you can't see them. And they won't greet you with a hug, that's for sure.
The absolutely terrifying Outlast is available for Windows through Steam right now for $20. Be sure to pick it up if you dislike sleeping at night, or don't yet have that long-desired fear of walking through unfamiliar doors. You've been warned.