|Writer(s)||J. T. Petty|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
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 named Mount Massive Asylum, located deep in the mountains of Lake County, Colorado. The downloadable content Outlast: Whistleblower 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. Linux and OS X versions were later released on March 31, 2015. A Nintendo Switch version titled Outlast: Bundle of Terror was released in February 2018.
Outlast received generally positive reviews, with praise for its atmosphere, horror elements, and gameplay. As of October 2016, the game has sold four million copies. As of May 2018, the whole series has sold fifteen million copies.
A sequel, Outlast 2, was released on April 25, 2017, while a third installment, The Outlast Trials, is set to be released in 2021. The Murkoff Account, a comic book series set between Outlast and Outlast 2, was released in July of the same year.
In Outlast, the player assumes the role of investigative journalist Miles Upshur, as he navigates a dilapidated psychiatric hospital in Leadville, Colorado that is overrun by homicidal patients. The game is played from a first-person perspective and features some stealth gameplay mechanics. The player can walk, run, crouch, jump, climb ladders and vault over objects. Unlike most games, however, the player doesn't have a visible health bar on the screen and is unable to attack enemies. The player must instead rely on stealth tactics such as hiding in lockers, sneaking past enemies, staying in the shadows and hiding behind or under things in order to survive. Alternatively, the player can attempt to outrun their pursuer. If the player dies, the game will reset to the most recent checkpoint.
Most of the hospital is unlit, and the only way for the player to see while in the dark is through the lens of a camcorder equipped with night vision. Using the night vision mode will slowly consume batteries, forcing the player to scavenge for additional batteries found throughout the asylum. Outlast makes heavy use of traditional jump scares and audio cues, which alert the player if an enemy has seen them. If the player records specific events with their camcorder, Miles will write a note about it, providing further insight into his thoughts. Documents can be collected, which offer backstory and other expository information about the facility, including pages taken from the diaries of patients and reports from the hospital staff.
Developer Red Barrels have pointed to the survival-focused gameplay in Amnesia: The Dark Descent as a primary influence on the combat-free narrative style of Outlast. Found-footage horror films like Quarantine and REC also served as influences.
Freelance investigative journalist Miles Upshur receives an anonymous e-mail that inhumane experiments are being conducted at Mount Massive Asylum, a private psychiatric hospital owned by the notoriously unethical Murkoff Corporation. Upon entering, Miles is shocked to discover its halls ransacked and littered with the mutilated corpses of the staff. He is informed by a dying officer of Murkoff's private military unit that Mount Massive's deranged inmates, known as "variants", have escaped and are freely roaming the grounds, butchering Murkoff's employees. The officer implores him to leave, but Miles finds he cannot return the way he came and must press on.
As Miles searches for an exit, he is ambushed by a hulking variant named Chris Walker, who knocks him unconscious. While incapacitated, Miles encounters Father Martin Archimbaud, a self-anointed priest with schizotypal personality disorder, who claims Miles is his "apostle" and sabotages his escape by cutting off power to the front doors. Miles restores power, but Father Martin injects him with anesthetic. He shows Miles footage of "the Walrider", a ghostly entity killing patients and personnel 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 escapes through the sewers to the main wards, pursued by Walker and two cannibalistic twins, only to be captured by Richard Trager, a former Murkoff executive driven insane like the other inmates. Trager amputates two of Miles' fingers with a pair of bone shears, preparing to do the same to his tongue and genitals. However, Miles escapes to an elevator, inadvertently crushing Trager between floors when he attacks him.
Miles reconvenes with Father Martin, who tells him to go to the asylum's chapel. Reaching an auditorium, Miles learns that the Walrider was created by Dr. Rudolf Gustav Wernicke, a German scientist brought to the United States during Operation Paperclip. Wernicke believed that intensive dream therapy conducted on traumatized patients could connect swarms of nanites into a single malevolent being.
Miles finds Father Martin crucified in the chapel, who gives Miles a key to the atrium elevator that he insists will take him to freedom before immolating himself. Miles takes the elevator, which descends into a subterranean laboratory. Walker attacks him, only to be eviscerated by the Walrider. Miles locates an aged Wernicke, who confirms that the Walrider is a biotechnological nanite entity controlled by Billy Hope, a comatose subject of Murkoff's experiments. He orders Miles to terminate Billy's life support in the hopes that this will destroy the Walrider. Miles accomplishes this task; however, just before Billy dies, the Walrider attacks Miles and possesses his body. On his way out of the laboratory, Miles encounters a Murkoff military team led by Wernicke, which guns him down. A horrified Wernicke realizes that Miles is the Walrider's new host. Panicked screams and gunfire are heard as the screen fades to black.
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 witnessing its effects on the facility's patients, he sends an anonymous e-mail to reporter Miles Upshur to expose the corporation. Shortly afterwards, Park is summoned to the underground laboratory's operations center to debug a monitoring system. When he returns to his laptop, his supervisor, Jeremy Blaire, has him detained and subjected to the Morphogenic Engine after discovering his e-mail. However, when the Walrider is unleashed (which leads to the events in the main story), Park escapes and takes a camcorder. He roams the increasingly decrepit facility as surviving guards and medical personnel flee from the newly freed patients, searching for a shortwave radio that he can use to contact the authorities, all the while eluding a cannibal named Frank Manera, who wields an electric bone saw. Just as Park manages to find a working radio transmitter, Blaire appears and destroys it.
Park finds his way into the asylum's vocational block where he is chased by Eddie Gluskin, a serial killer obsessed with finding the "perfect bride" by killing other patients and mutilating their genitalia. Gluskin captures Park and tries to hang him in a gymnasium with his other victims, but during the struggle, he becomes entangled in his pulley system and impaled by a loose section of rebar.
At daybreak, Murkoff's paramilitary division arrives at the asylum, intent on eliminating the variants. Park slips past them and escapes into 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 takes the jeep and drives away as Miles, now the Walrider's host, also emerges from the asylum.
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 eliminate him and his family. Despite some initial hesitation, Park decides to upload the file.
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. Linux and OS X versions were later released on March 31, 2015.
In December 2017, Red Barrels announced that Outlast, including Whistleblower and the sequel Outlast 2, will be coming to the Nintendo Switch in early 2018. The title was released by surprise on February 27, 2018 under the title Outlast: Bundle of Terror via Nintendo eShop.
As of October 19, 2016, Outlast has sold over 4 million copies.
Outlast received positive reviews. Aggregating review website Metacritic gave the Xbox One version 80/100 based on 6 reviews, the Microsoft Windows version 80/100 based on 59 reviews, and the PlayStation 4 version 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.
GameSpot gave the game a positive review as well stating that "Outlast isn't really a game of skill, and as it turns out, that makes sense. You're not a cop or a soldier or a genetically enhanced superhero. You're just a reporter. And as a reporter, you don't possess many skills with which you can fend off the hulking brutes, knife-wielding stalkers, and other homicidal maniacs who lurk in the halls of the dilapidated Mount Massive Asylum. You can't shoot them, or punch them, or rip pipes from the walls to clobber them with. You can only run and hide".
It was initially intended to be released in late 2016, but was delayed to early 2017 due to complications during development. Subsequently, the release date was further pushed to Q2 2017, despite the intended Q1 2017 release.
On March 6, 2017, Red Barrels announced that a physical bundle called Outlast Trinity would be released for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on April 25.
The sequel, titled Outlast 2, was made digitally available for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on April 25, 2017; and came to the Nintendo Switch, alongside Outlast, in February 2018. It takes place in the same universe as the first game, but features a new storyline with different characters, set in the Arizona desert.
Outlast 3 was announced in December 2017, though no time frame or target platforms were confirmed. During this announcement, Red Barrels said that because they could not easily add downloadable content for Outlast 2, they had a smaller separate project related to Outlast that would be released before Outlast 3. The project, teased in October 2019, is a prequel for Outlast 2, called The Outlast Trials, and is a horror game set in the Cold War. The game is in its early development stages, with a set 2021 release date.
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