Now, when I say I’ve discovered a new video game genre, I mean for myself. I must have played almost every genre out there, but one of them that isn't particulary a favourite of mine is horror. I’ve played horror games before though, and Resident Evil for the PlayStation is one of my earliest memorable encounters back in 1996, as a young ten year old lad. Zombies, check. Creepy mansion, check. Horror, yeah it had that too - especially the part when the zombie dogs jump through the windows early on in the game. Why I continued playing after that part I’ll never know. But, from then on I didn’t really dabble too much in the horror genre, and the games I did try failed to have the true horror effect that I would come to experience this week.
Let's go back to last week, during that Steam Summer Sale thing that happened - I was browsing the deals, as you do, trying to spot games which I hadn’t actually bought in previous sales or bundles. One game that caught my eye was Outlast. Previously I hadn’t been at all interested in it, but seeing as it was something around a mere £4 in the sale I thought I’d pick it up, just for a look. I’ve watched one, maybe two YouTube videos of folks playing similar games, all whilst filming their reactions of shrilling screams to the horrors they’re witnessing. It did nothing to deter me from trying Outlast for myself though, as I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
As a somewhat seasoned horror movie viewer, albeit the older classics like Nightmare on Elm Street and Evil Dead, I don't ever seem to get scared or startled when watching them - especially with modern horror, that stuff just isn’t scary, and the numerous modern horror movies I’ve watched have yet to startle me beyond a yawn.
Those safe-looking distant lights are what you'll always want to get to, although you rarely ever feel truly safe in Outlast.
With this iron-clad resilience to the horror genre I seemed to have built up over the years, it’s not unusual that I didn’t feel the slightest bit put off by Outlast. And come Monday night I’d suddenly remembered I’d bought the game, so I mentioned it to my girlfriend and asked if she’d like to sit with me whilst I play it, as it looked very different to the usual games we play. She had heard of the it, and seen some of the reactions people on YouTube had whilst playing it - reluctantly she agreed to sit with me.
Curtains drawn and volume turned up, we began. The game started off fairly stereotypically – we’re driving up a dirt road at night towards a huge, eerie-looking mental asylum on top of a hill. It’s dark, there’s clouds, and a huge stone wall is lit up by the headlights of the car as you’re driving, with the words ‘Mount Massive Asylum’ embossed in stone. We’re told that we’re a journalist called Miles Upshur, heading to the asylum to investigate shady goings on, and armed with our video camera we must document any evidence of foul play that we find. Atmosphere has been set.
Initially I didn’t find anything to be afraid of here, as I approached the front gates, and eventually tried the front door of the building, which was locked – meaning I had to go around the side of the asylum to climb some scaffolding and enter through an open window. Inside the asylum it’s certainly much more atmospheric, with great lighting effects creeping through cracks in doorways and long empty corridors giving you creepy visuals to go with the ambient sounds you hear.
My girlfriend was already good to leave the room by this point anyway, but I just pressed on and explored the rooms, video camera in hand. The moment the game changed for me was when the first scare came; a barely-open door was left just waiting to be peeked through, so I approached and opened it to a pitch black room, only to be confronted by a hanging body with immensely loud and sudden bursts of noise in the music. Yeah, I jumped out of my seat and screamed, and yeah my girlfriend wasn’t best pleased about the game by this point for sure, as she was trembling in terror.
Another tense moment here - Outlast brings about genuine feelings of fear in quite a remarkable way.
Outlast had done something that I hadn’t experienced since I was a child, it scared the crap out of me in a huge way and got my heart racing. This is what I had been searching for in modern horror movies - something that could genuinely scare me to the point of true terror (horror fans will understand this, I'm sure). But, not to be too easily deterred, we ventured on – all the while my girlfriend was ready to go and watch a happy, colourful Disney movie to take her mind off the horrors she had just endured; I urged her to stay and live through this nightmare with me – she agreed and I love her all the more for it.
We haven’t finished Outlast yet, although we did play it for quite a while this week. It’s definitely enjoyable, despite the pangs of tension, fear-sweats and the innumerable amount of times we screamed in horror. Oh, and the fact that every time my girlfriend would scream or jump, she would grab onto me, which of course made me scream and jump regardless of what was happening on screen. Anyway, we will finish it, we will escape that horrendous place - I hope.
You can buy Outlast on PS4, Xbox One and PC, and if there are any other games of a similar type you’d recommend we try please let us know in the comments section.