We Fear Our Minds: Asylums as a Horror Cliché

Outlast, the debut title from Montreal's Red Barrels, uses this approach to horror to good effect. Players assume the perspective of Miles Upshur, a journalist who has steady enough nerves to investigate a long-disused asylum hidden in the woods far from civilization. Once inside he begins to run into all manner of straight-jacketed, rambling, and often violent folks who chase him through the facility. Outlast is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the spookiest games around, which places it alongside the dreadful castle and industrial hellscape of the highly revered Amnesia series. Red Barrels’ first title is definitely unsettling, but it's also notable for an almost complete absence of traditionally terrifying creatures like ghosts and demons. Instead, it's the entirely human patients populating its setting that are responsible for the majority of the scares.

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