Outlast: Whistleblower (PC)
(Canada 2014, developer/publisher: Red Barrels, platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4)
Software engineer Waylon Park finds out that the Murkoff Corporation for which he works is responsible for some inhuman experiments on patients at the Mount Massive institution and soon becomes part of an uprising as a prisoner himself.
A new beginning and the beginning end
Telling the story of what happened before the base game and also tying in to the ending of it, one shouldn’t expect a lot of new insights into a plot that wasn’t that complicated to begin with. Experimentation on patients who soon become more violent isn’t very original, but it’s effective as a starting point for a very twisted tour de force through a compound filled with sick sociopaths. There are a bit of backstory and explanations for players willing to invest the time by finding documents or recording scenes with their trusty camcorder, but even with these, the general plot remains largely in the background, with the real star of the freak show being some memorable inmates. One of them, calling himself the Groom, who formerly mutilated women before being admitted to the asylum, takes a liking to castrate men to make that special someone his perfect bride, while another psychopath eats human flesh and even wants to cook the main protagonist.
Bloody disgusting reality check
The game touches topics like sexual abuse or torture in a very gruesome fashion, and it doesn’t hold back when showing the bloody details or full-frontal nudity. It’s questionable in how far these scenes serve to move the story forward or if the gratuitous violence should simply shock people as much as to disgust them. But then again the original game had more than a fair amount of blood and gore in it, and what’s on display here only continues the gritty tradition of violent realism and body horror.
Runaway terror train
One doesn’t only need a good stomach to endure the gory scenes, as the game does a great job of genuinely evoking panic and fear in the player. It’s often impossible to see in many parts of the institution due to fog outside or darkness inside. Being chased and trying to jump over tables or climbing over other obstacles, pushing through doors, crawling through air ducts, and even breaking through windows is certainly not for the faint-hearted gamer. Puzzles don’t get any more varied than finding a key to a door, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it would have impeded the fast pacing. There are a few too many predictable jumpscares, but there are just enough cinematic set-pieces that play with the inability to move and instead being forced to watch horrible scenes that the game still holds a few disgusting surprises and tense moments in store.
Great looks and sounds of horror
Graphics and sound effects are as great as ever, with some particularly scary shadow and lighting effects, convincing character models, and nasty noises being complemented by a score that holds back and rushes forward just like the protagonist at the appropriate moments. Voice acting is also of a very high quality, so that one shouldn’t find too much to complain about.
A DLC without too many surprises, but still well done
Outlast: Whistleblower is everything one expects from a DLC. It’s rather short with only 2-3 hours playtime, but it delivers the same tense run-and-hide gameplay as in the original, which also means that it’s just if not more graphic in its depiction of violence. It might not tell the most involving story or offer anything particularly new, but its antagonists are disgusting enough to be memorable. Compared to many found footage movies, this one is actually scary and full of action without giving the audience much time or room to breathe.
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