Sitrep: Survival Horror’s Continued Survival, or “Why Outlast Looks Scary As Hell”

Outlast

By on April 18, 2013 at 12:01 pm

A lot has been said of survival horror’s horrible lack of survival, some of which has come from me on those rare* nights I lose hope and hurl whiskey bottles at my gaming machines. I grew up on this stuff. The first Resident Evil was a big deal for me. When someone told me Capcom had scanned a real dead human eye for the zombo on the promo boards I thought, “Cool.” Silent Hill, too, really got to me in a way I’d never experienced.

Both these franchises kind of suck now, but it’s not franchise loyalty that makes me sad and drunk: it’s the death of fear in gaming.

I always, always wondered why there wasn’t more in the way of first-person survival horror. Bits and pieces here and there. The closest I think I’ve come to nodding along on that front was Condemned, but it was missing something. You were too safe.

The essence of being scared is vulnerability in a strange land. There are plenty of strange lands in gaming, but gaming’s status quo also demands of the medium itself a certain power trip that runs counter to freaking the crap out. That’s why Irrational call Dead Space “action horror” now.

Outlast does not look like action horror. It looks like survival horror the way I’ve always wanted. I’ve been obsessing over it ever since I stumbled over it this week. I had to stumble over it, ‘cos no one’s really talking about it. Why would they? It’s not an EA presents deal and is, in fact, being put together by an entirely new and untested studio called Red Barrels.

Maybe “untested” isn’t that fair: Red Barrels do count alumni from the likes of Ubisoft (hmmm…) and Naughty Dog (hmmm!), so that’s reason enough to start caring in my necronomicon. On paper, it’s a first-person horrorthon where instead of a gun you’re only armed with the night vision of a battery-deprived video camera, made by guys and gals who know games. Reads good.

Then I saw it in action.

Awww yeah. Best thing: It’s a PC-first production and yeah, that does mean that there trailer is actually running in realtime. Highly scripted for sure, but there’s some more gameplay footage out of PAX East that gives you a firmer idea of just why I’m so firm over this right now. I mean, the fact Red Barrels are being so transparent about everything is awesome enough.

The setting might be cliché as hell (“long-abandoned home for the mentally ill”), but I get the feeling Outlast will eventually take Amnesia-like descents into madness and that, friends, is something that has never properly been expanded on until it is naught but a new sub-genre of annualised FPS. For shame. Kind of. Don’t read that last part, corporate people who’ve run out of ideas. I don’t want to handle one firearm in this game. Not one. Guns are the antithesis to my fever dreams. It’s all about the Blair Witch vision, and I pray: Please don’t suck, obscure but promising herald of good scary times.

*Frequent

Tags:
11 comments (Leave your own)

There’s loads of survival horror games out there. I hate to say this, but Pewdiepie does play a lot of them.

Condemned 2 bear scene as well; you’re telling me that wasn’t scary?

I haven’t seen anyone actually say this game contains traditional survival mechanics either.

RE is a survival horror; you have to manage your ammo. SH is a survival horror. This? Just regular horror. Same deal as Amnesia.

 

That trailer terrifies me. TERRIFIES.

I thought, I can handle Amnesia. I thought I can deal with this level of fear. I can TAKE not being armed against the darkness.

I couldn’t. On my first monster, I locked my character in a cupboard and gibbered ‘it can’t find me it can’t find me it won’t find me pleasepleasepleasedon’tfindme’…

I never know if he found me. I shut the game down and have never been able to go back. Somewhere in game world is a mummified corpse who starved to death in the dark rather than even -see- what waited for him in the shadows.

 

That’s quite a trailer. I’m not sure if I could play that for very long, mind you.

 

I don’t actually find this that scary at all! Penumbra/Amnesia terrified me, but this is less ‘ohgodohgodWHO’STHEREOHGODOHGOD’ for one simple reason: we were regularly shown what hunts us. In fact, the dude kicked it off of him, meaning it can succumb to some form of physical punishment or prevention. It’s simply a human gone wrong, not some kind of unstoppable, inhuman monster that silently skulks in the dark. It rings more of a horror movie where the ‘monster’ is just the psycho from Borderlands and you just happen to be trapped in a dark house with him.

As I said, the fault in the terror, here, lies in the fact that we were shown the thing that hunts us WAY too much. Fear comes predominantly from the mind assuming things about the unknown – I was more scared when NOTHING was happening and he was looking around with night vision. However, at the end, I was tapping my fingers, literally and accurately counting down to the entirely predictable ‘he’s still there’ ending. If I’m doing that in a horror game, it’s not working. I really hope the game is more tense than ‘Search search nothing dark dark camera HEY GUY RUN RUN RUN PARKOUR CHASE RUN RUN HIDE okay more search search nothing dark dark’ repeat….

 

Thanks (ironically named) Red Barrels, but do we really need another abandoned hospital setting? I’d like a lot more originality and thinking outside the box. An environment can be much more creepy if it isn’t creepy just at face value, but an innocent place where something creepy went down.

Different vision modes, evasion and hiding mechanics = good

Played out setting and ubiquitously heavy breathing avatar = bad

 

Personally I’m looking forward to Daylight which will be the first game to use the Unreal 4 engine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQd7CYCodFo

 

Outlast
Daylight
Amnesia Machine for Pigs
Among The Sleep
Intruder
Routine
Asylum
..Possibly Re:Revelations if it’s much more like the proper classics like I’ve heard

Will be a Good year.

 

Nemesis_22: That trailer terrifies me. TERRIFIES.
I thought, I can handle Amnesia. I thought I can deal with this level of fear. I can TAKE not being armed against the darkness.
I couldn’t. On my first monster, I locked my character in a cupboard and gibbered ‘it can’t find me it can’t find me it won’t find me pleasepleasepleasedon’tfindme’…
I never know if he found me. I shut the game down and have never been able to go back. Somewhere in game world is a mummified corpse who starved to death in the dark rather than even -see- what waited for him in the shadows.

I’m the same, i got a few hours into Amnesia and then have never loaded it up again, the game made me to uncomfortable.

I would also suggest people dig out “Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, the only thing worse than being unarmed against terror is being armed and coming to the realization it isn’t going to do a god damn thing to save you.

It also has one of the best chase scenes I’ve ever played that’s set in an old motel/rooftop.

 

nekosanI would also suggest people dig out “Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, the only thing worse than being unarmed against terror is being armed and coming to the realization it isn’t going to do a god damn thing to save you.

Like this:

 

I’m a little apprehensive.
I hope that this game has a solid enough story to keep it afloat, because the trailer *looked* like it was giving a lot away.

I would agree with both balketh and J-me: This seems an obvious setting for such a game, and shows a LOT of the enemy, which just stacks it up to something akin to a forgettable horror flick like ‘Quarantine’ or the remake of ‘House on Haunted Hill’

What made the Penumbra series and Amnesia so good was that your imagination crippled you just as much as anything they put in the game. Slightly more subtle music and moments of seeming calm made for much higher tension than Outlive’s ‘your supposed to be scared and jump now’ music and constant high-pace the trailer showcased.
Stack that self-made atmosphere with a killer story to motivate you through the puzzles, and past the rarely seen but most highly feared monsters, and you’re left with something compelling.

Here’s hoping Outlive will disturb me long after I’m done playing, and not be filled with Doom 3′s ‘door opens next to you, lights go out, things jump at you’ moments.

 

Good article but omfg I hate horror and survival games.

“it was missing something. You were too safe.”

That is the WORST part for me.

I hate walking slowly through a level in a game and having tension’s sky high about who or what may jump out at me screaming or even worse..when nothing happens at all but the entire time you were thinking something was going to..

I may be a baby but damn those kind of levels and games scare me, I don’t enjoy playing them because I don’t enjoy being scared.

 
Leave a comment

You can use the following bbCode
[i], [b], [img], [quote], [url href="http://www.google.com/"]Google[/url]

Leave a Reply

PC Gaming Calendar 2014

Follow Games.on.net

YouTube

Steam Group

Upcoming Games

Community Soapbox

Recent Features
Civilization: Beyond Earth

Hands on with Civilization: Beyond Earth – dark, grim and surprisingly atmospheric

Or: "How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Siege Worms"

World of Warcraft

Warlords of Draenor beta key giveaway: 125 keys for you to claim

Do you have what it takes to enter? (Yes. Yes you do.)

Wasteland 2

Wasteland 2 made me fall in love with turn-based RPGs

This Kickstarter-powered old-school RPG delivers in unexpected ways.

Streaming Radio
Radio Streams are restricted to iiNet group customers.

GreenManGaming MREC

Facebook Like Box