The horror genre. It’s been one of the most appreciated yet risky types of games to make and sell for the longest time. One of the most vocal reasons is that not many people will actually buy horror games since they don’t like being terrified, which leads to some publishers making their developers create a horror game that isn’t actually that scary - like FEAR 3, Resident Evil 5 and 6, and Dead Space 3.
Now not many publishers are taking risks with the horror genre as the only noticeable triple A game being made for this year is Alien Isolation, which is both unfortunate and yet a relief for horror fans since the risk of having a non-scary “horror” game is slim. The best part is that independent developers are actually trying to create an interesting and frightening experience for gamers to enjoy and fear even without the AAA budget. One of the biggest indie successes for that genre is the one and only Outlast.
Outlast, a major and successful indie horror game, is made and cherished by Red Barrels, a studio that was founded by former Ubisoft and EA developers David Chateauneuf, Phillipe Morin, and Hugo Dallaire. Previously they had worked on games like Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed, and Splinter Cell, and actually discussed making a horror game while they were working there before they quit to start a new adventure in independent development. From forums and social networking sites they noticed that many people wanted an innovative and new horror game, which motivated them to found a game studio and start making a new (and great) horror game. Red Barrels and Outlast were born.
When the game finally released on September 4, 2013 on PC, gamers were going in frenzy for Outlast, the high quality horror game from an independent studio. There were a couple of flaws here and there but Outlast is a magnificent but humble gem – which they planned to make even more magnificent and bigger with the game’s first DLC, Outlast Whistleblower.
Outlast Whistleblower is a prequel full of surprises for the base Outlast game as it brings improvements in both a bloody and disturbing atmosphere and insane and unpredictable enemies. David, Red Barrels co-founder and Game & Level Designer, emphasized how the unpredictable enemies actually come from the asylum setting, an interesting move by Red Barrels for both Outlast and its DLC. Furthermore, Whistleblower surpassed the base game itself in terms of narrative, Red Barrels and fans like me agree.
Before I speak about those two sensitive topics for the faint of heart, let me spend a little time on the narrative and plot for Whistleblower. You play as Waylon Park, a software engineer who attempted to blow the whistle about the disgusting and greedy actions of Murkoff Corporation done in Mount Massive to none other than Miles Upshur, the journalist whom appeared as the protagonist in the base Outlast game. It didn’t go smoothly as the employees discovered his brave, but shameful action in their eyes, and decided to enlist him as one of the inmates being experimented on for Morphogenic Engine, which is actually the reason why the asylum went bonkers throughout both the game and the DLC.
Now, time to tense your heart a bit for both the atmosphere and the enemies. The asylum is basically a frightening hell on Earth for sane minds, while it is actually a blossoming paradise for the sick and lunatics. The environment feels old and dated as the asylum is one hell of an old building with all the furniture and the designs being much too antique for a present setting. Most of the rooms are very dark and you need your trusty night vision camera to actually see all the loads of blood being painted on those antique walls and furniture. Beyond that, we experience limbs and organs being cooked like piles of stew, a room full of corpses hung up with some bloodied spikes around, and some areas that are tight and confusing like a maze with an inmate waiting to cross paths with you in a dead end and end your miserable life that is trying to cling onto sanity and escape the miserable hell that is this asylum.
Still think it isn’t frightening? Think again, as there are frightening inmates in Whistleblower including an exclusive appearance of two interesting, but disturbing, gentlemen - The Cannibal and The Groom. Red Barrels wanted new inmates for the DLC to distinguish it from the base game, and they have succeeded here as the two of them were frightening. I won’t talk that much about the Groom since he is the spotlight of the game and it would be a shame if I even got near to spoiling anything, but the Cannibal leaves enough disturbing cooking of the limbs and organs to give you an idea. He even heated a corpse’s head in a microwave - and it exploded all of a sudden while the Cannibal cuts him up with his mini saw and eats his organs openly while you are helplessly watching. If you think that is frightening to no end, then you really don’t want him to chase you as he still wields that mini-saw and its roar echoes the room you both are in. It won’t be pleasant if you get caught by The Cannibal.
Outlast Whistleblower, as expected, made Red Barrels’ magnificent little debut title even bigger and proved that they are worthy of being considered one of the important horror developers in the gaming industry. Unfortunately, there is nothing to share about their next project, but let’s hope sooner rather than later they will reveal it - and that it will surpass their first horror gem beloved by so many horror fans. Thank you for reading, and happy indie month, ladies and gentlemen.
Day 11 | Red Barrels