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GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween 2013: Outlast

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Posted by: David Sanchez

If Amnesia: The Dark Descent proved anything, it's that indie survival horror games can be among the scariest the genre has to offer. In fact, it's hard to find a "scary" triple-A title that actually delivers on its promises to terrify you. That wasn't the case with Amnesia, though, and it certainly wasn't the case with today's entry in GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween. Outlast is very much a scary game that successfully manages to both creep you out and make you jump.

Last time on our month-long feature, we took a look at the original Silent Hill, which was a pretty eerie game and a worthy inductee in the 31 Games of Halloween series. This time, though, we're going to venture deep into the more modern world of Outlast.

Why it stands out

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When it was first revealed and up until it finally launched on Steam, Outlast drew several comparisons to Amnesia. Even now, the two games are still often compared, and it's not uncommon to find numerous message boards with “Amnesia vs. Outlast” topics. Honestly, it's impossible to blame folks for putting the two games side-by-side. There are some similarities, such as the ominous environments, creepy atmosphere, and first-person perspective. That said, there are also some noteworthy differences.

The first thing you need to know about Outlast is that it's more about instant scares than anything else. Yes, the asylum setting is eerie and brooding, but it's the things that constantly happen that will instill the most fear in you. While Amnesia was about mortifying you with a perpetual uneasiness, Outlast likes to mess with you in frequent short bursts.

Is it scary?

Outlast - PC - 2

TV screens turn on after you've entered a room, doors swing open as you're about to pass through them, and mysterious figures are seen throughout. Playing Outlast is one of those experiences that keeps you on edge a lot of the time, and even if you think you're ready for a scare, the game still catches you by surprise. You can't help but approach a new area with a sense of dread, and even when you think that the simple act of expecting the worst is the scariest this game gets, it throws something right at you that makes you realize you were wrong.

But I won't discount the setting. While the world around you isn't as strong a focus as the instant fear that Outlast inflicts, it's still important. It's an asylum, after all, and if we learned anything from Manhunt, it's that asylums are freakin' scary. Accompanying you as you explore this rundown building is a heavy darkness. Thankfully (sort of), you've got a camera with night vision, which allows you to see around you. The quality of the night vision means everything looks even more dreadful, though. You have to believe the folks over at developer Red Barrels are patting themselves on the back for this rather awesome move.

Why play it on Halloween?

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If intense scares are something you actively seek in your movies and games, Outlast is quite possibly the best choice for Halloween. Following its launch, a lot of reviewers stated that this was one of the scariest games they had ever played, and it's already been called the scariest game of 2013. With such a strong reputation gained in so little time, you know this is the real deal as far as survival horror games are concerned.

So load up Outlast on Steam, turn off the lights, and put some headphones on. Then prepare to be scared absolutely shitless as you enter the madness of a frightening asylum.

Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.

Tags: Outlast, Red Barrels, Halloween

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