Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Review

Outlast Review

  • First Released Sep 4, 2013
    released
  • Reviewed Sep 4, 2013
  • PC

Outlast is a weapons-free survival horror adventure that elicits frequent bouts of dread.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

Outlast reminds us that we don't necessarily need ghouls and spooks for a good fright; the real world does well enough on its own. Indeed, Red Barrels' new nail-biter may borrow liberally from 2011's acclaimed survival horror adventure Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but it distinguishes itself by tossing aside Lovecraftian dread in favor of the comparatively mundane happenings at a mental institution nestled near Colorado's Mount Massive Wilderness area. Outlast's very name seems to challenge you to outlast your friends' records for playing it alone in the dark, and indeed, you'll be frequently driven to turn the lights on and calm your fears. However, the eventual predictability of its frights and its overreliance on the same types of enemies drain a modicum of the opening hours' terror by the end.

It certainly gets the opening right. Outlast is the tale of Miles Upshur, an investigative journalist intent on snooping through the Mount Massive Asylum to dig up some dirt on a sketchy psychiatric organization. Mere seconds inside a window, he realizes he probably made a bad choice. The terror of Upshur's journey is emphasized by his lack of weapons, and his sole means of dealing with the horrors that befall him lies in his ability to run and--very rarely--a button prompt that lets him break free of attackers. When he shoots, it's only with his digital camcorder, which doubles as a night vision device with battery usage so dismal that it would probably get pulled from Amazon.

When it comes to eliciting tension, however, the camera's ever-dwindling energy supply is a good thing. As a consequence, Upshur spends much of the game darting from sewers to theaters to laboratories in utter blackness, and the fast-draining batteries initially help to maintain the kinds of chills developer Red Barrels desires. Too bad, then, that batteries are so common a few hours in that you can maintain a full pack of 10 with little effort.

Even so, Outlast's reliance on the camcorder helps deliver an experience strongly suggestive of 1999's Blair Witch Project, down to the sight of patients contemplating corners in the night vision's green glow while Upshur whimpers and heaves. Outlast never forgets that it's as invested in survival as much as horror. With attacks out of the question, Upshur instead spends the bulk of his time hiding in lockers and under beds, and some of Outlast's most deliciously tense moments spring from watching your would-be attackers through metal slats. Like the characters of Blair Witch, Upshur never loses sight of his mission; he takes time to collect documents pertaining to creepy Nazi doctors and patients to ensure his trip was worth the effort. Outlast even seasons the overall experience with several puzzles requiring jogs and light platforming between two objectives.

That mummy stole your camcorder!
That mummy stole your camcorder!

A mental hospital might be a predictable--even cliche--setting for this type of story, but it also affords Outlast the chance to mix folks who just want to be left in peace with the psychotic types. The upshot of the setup is that you never know which you're going to encounter, and therein lies much of Outlast's potential for terror. Early on, for instance, you're forced to amble straight past a trio of scarred patients who pay you little mind; later on, a loitering patient with a club might let you pass unharmed but decide to clobber you once you pass by again. An unfortunate consequence of this design is that a madman you meet six hours in doesn't differ greatly from the first few you see, although the ever-present danger of dying from a couple of nasty blows helps maintain a sense of wariness with each encounter.

Wariness is the key word here, not fear. By the third of Outlast's roughly seven hours of play, the standard inmates cease to spark much in the way of real surprises, even if the mere threat of them continues to make you jump at most unexplained sounds. The ones who haven't been disfigured by experiments could usually pass for twins of one another, and it's made worse by an absence of female patients even though Upshur takes a long sojourn through Mount Massive's so-called Women's Ward.

Oops.
Oops.

A few standout moments assert themselves amid the rabble, and it's a pity there aren't more. In one of Outlast's high points, for instance, you hunt down a key while playing a frantic game of cat and mouse with a doctor who mixes bloodthirsty savagery with a voice that could have belonged to Fred Rogers. It's a fantastic scripted sequence, and every patient you encounter afterward seems as unmemorable as a Left 4 Dead zombie by comparison. That's especially true of the lumbering, chained monstrosity who shatters doors and hunts you throughout the plot. However frightening his appearance may be at first, his repeated appearances eventually grow predictable.

But even when you've grown used to him and his less pumped companions, Outlast manages to sustain some of the early tension through its commendable sound design. Upshur's horse-like clomps on the carpet seem a little excessive for a man attempting to sneak, but the way his heart beats with greater intensity upon the approach of a hostile party is a fine replacement for Outlast's near total absence of a UI. Outlast is also a visual treat at times, even if its focus favors the landscape over the character models. Step into a pool of water in the sewer, for instance, and you see how each step triggers ripples on the water's surface. Track through a pool of blood, and you may startle a bit at the sight of bloody footprints before realizing they're your own.

Killer Croc, anyone?
Killer Croc, anyone?

Outlast is at its best when it clings to the focus on realism that sets it apart from Amnesia, and thus it loses its way when it dabbles in the supernatural as the plot nears its climax. To be sure, once you build a tolerance to the horrors after slinking past scores of tortured souls, the sight of something other than humans comes almost as a relief. Unfortunately, that tolerance also affects Outlast's dependence on so-called "jump scares," such as seemingly dead bodies that leap up and attack or the sight of patients' faces popping up but inches from your own after you emerge from a crawlspace. In time, you may even find yourself correctly guessing where the next scare will appear. Even the longish checkpoints for key sequences rob Outlast of some of its chills: after failing an attempt twice, for instance, all fear of losing your skin tends to vanish before the relatively mundane pressure of timing your movements correctly.

That shouldn't prevent you from playing Outlast, though, especially if you're the sort who likes to sit in dark rooms with these kinds of games and scare yourself in solitude. Most of the time, particularly early on when its quirks are fresh and unknown, it delivers. Even its weakest moments owe their existence not to ineffective ambiance and tension, but rather to excessive confidence spurred by eventual predictable encounters that clash with the promise of the setting. From start to finish, it never loses sight of the "survival" component of survival horror, and in such a way that reminds us that few things on this earth can be as terrifying as our fellow human beings.

Back To Top
The Good
Beautiful, ominous environments
Fast-draining night vision camera keeps tensions high
Highly effective sound design
Absence of weapons requires smart uses of hiding spots
Fascinating story told through documents and notes
The Bad
Lack of enemy variety causes some predictability
Nonhuman enemies are not as scary
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Outlast

About the Author

Leif Johnson is a prolific freelancer from Chicago who confuses people by speaking with an East Texas accent. Somehow a childhood of herding cattle and raising emus prepared him for researching medieval texts for several years, but these days he fills his free time by smashing bad guys with big swords. In RPGs, of course.
260 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for adeshmukh
adeshmukh

4

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By adeshmukh

Outlast mostly manages to create a engaging and immersive atmosphere. Though Gameplay is great the story fails at the end despite a effective build up towards the end. Found an interesting http://www.fanboyzandpopculture.in/outlast-review-effective-survival-horror/ review of Outlast. The game borrows it's gameplay and atmosphere from amnesia which i felt was a good decision.Overall a good game with a weak storyline.

Avatar image for brockelley
Brockelley

87

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

You have no weapons and the game still isn't scary.. failure.

Avatar image for coaltango
coaltango

648

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By coaltango

gonna grab it for free next month on PS Plus

Avatar image for gregerz
gregerz

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Edited By gregerz

This review is one giant spoiler, just play the game


Avatar image for chyng85
chyng85

4385

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 55

User Lists: 1

Pretty bloody~

Avatar image for Conscrumptured
Conscrumptured

795

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By Conscrumptured

I agree about nonhuman enemies not being as scary, so well done for pointing that out. I think the game is so far better than a 7, but that's just my opinion. Nice review. (:

Avatar image for NERigby
NERigby

-5

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

This was a great, fair review - and I completely agree.

Avatar image for biokrysty
biokrysty

1278

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 13

User Lists: 0

far better than a 7 , I really enjoyed it and is scarry to

Avatar image for RaZSoRSharp
RaZSoRSharp

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By RaZSoRSharp

From Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs Review.
"And then there are the pig-men. They're also moody and unsettling, but with the added plus of being able to tear you to pieces."

From Outlast Review.

"The Bad
  • Lack of enemy variety causes some predictability"

    I don't quite get how Amnesia is better than Outlast in that matter.. If anything's predictable with lack of varied enemies It's Amnesia, right?

    Maybe It's just me, I dunno.
Avatar image for cgobeil
cgobeil

93

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 70

User Lists: 0

@RaZSoRSharp You're totally right, I don't get it either. I'm much more scared of crazy persons like in Outlast than from Amnesia and its pig-men.

Avatar image for Blade_Runner22
Blade_Runner22

27

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

A while ago, "The Last of Us"... Now this...

I know everyone has their tastes, but sometimes I wonder what criteria does Gamespot use to weigh the score. For example, "bad graphics" equal two points less?

*Sigh* This game is great by the way... better than a 7.0

Avatar image for shreddyz
shreddyz

164

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 7

User Lists: 0

@Blade_Runner22 I wouldn't stress too much about it. It's a game site review which doesn't exactly scream 'objectivity'. Granted reviews are subjective but a review needs to be more of an assessment rather than a "you'll like this" or I liked this" nonsense. This site doesn't have it imo.

Avatar image for n2y
n2y

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By n2y

@Blade_Runner22 I feel you man. I feel you... and now I wonder why they gave 9.5 to a simple and almost no gameplay game, 'Gone Home'.

Avatar image for Mo60
Mo60

65

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I wonder about the look of that game on PS4.

Avatar image for LeDocteur95
LeDocteur95

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By LeDocteur95

Best horror game i have ever played in my entire life, deserves a 10.

Avatar image for megamortis
megamortis

63

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By megamortis

A note about the stealth mechanics. You will discover it is easier to outrun the enemies than to tiptoe through the encounters. They generally shadow you regardless of your aptitude for being sneaky. After repeatedly bumping into these guys you will probably throw stealth to the wind.

On a positive note the camcorder is top notch. Unfortunately it's not much more than a flash light. There was an opportunity to make recording incriminating footage a dynamic part of the game, to make its use meaningful, but it wasn't really pursued. It's a decent horror game, but it is to shallow to put up on that pedestal.

Avatar image for megamortis
megamortis

63

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

The review is accurate if not generous. The game really is gradually dulled by repetition. It makes a strong impression with consistent ambience, but it is predictable in its recycled enemy models and archetypical video game scares. When the tedium sets in you will have to rely on your interest in the plot to progress ahead.

Avatar image for coel87
coel87

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

dont mind about tha GS scores, look for overall user score instead. that's what i do, people's score is the most important i think

Avatar image for D1N02982
D1N02982

33

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 6

User Lists: 0

This is an actual scary game a what do you give it a 7.0 that's fucking stupid!

Avatar image for andmcq
andmcq

259

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

Edited By andmcq

A very good game so far.

Avatar image for sohail5566
sohail5566

26

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

is this a good game

Avatar image for G4m3r0uTL4wZ
G4m3r0uTL4wZ

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@Ivan Kalashnikov Kill yourself.

Avatar image for Jolly_Loki
Jolly_Loki

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@G4m3r0uTL4wZ Kill yourself.

Avatar image for frozen-silence
frozen-silence

28

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@Tyson Carrick You looking for a hear attack, man?

Avatar image for Ali9953
Ali9953

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

so gone home took 9.5 and this game took 7.0 ????? really it deserves 8.5 or more at least

Avatar image for frozen-silence
frozen-silence

28

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@Ali9953 Gamespot has lost it. I dont know what really is the criterion for reviewing a game. reviews vary on the reviewer. It's way better than gone home. Even if the genre are different, this does not justify the difference in rating.

Avatar image for red-orc
red-orc

402

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 6

User Lists: 0

Two words: Simulation sickness

Avatar image for ManHooYin
ManHooYin

36

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I haven't played this game yet but from the looks of it, it deserves a way higher score, i got a bit scared looking at the review. Sometimes I just don't get GS reviews.

Avatar image for ewjiml
ewjiml

194

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

This game deserves a 9.0. I think the majority of reviewers forget this is an indie game. For 19.99, any horror fan should pick this up.

Avatar image for Gr0wl
Gr0wl

311

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

Hyped , and very rushed ...

Avatar image for Rakkupoo
Rakkupoo

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By Rakkupoo

@John Dettman Jr. This must be the most retarded statement that I've read in a long while.

And Dead Island was a decent game.

Avatar image for mav_destroyer
mav_destroyer

3073

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

Good review

Avatar image for alenth
alenth

26

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By alenth

Please GS take these annoying FB comments out of this section.

Avatar image for GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

3358

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 0

Edited By GamerLegend10

@alenth

Exactly what i was just thinking, damn i hate facebook

Avatar image for mucking_foron
mucking_foron

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@alenth gs does this with almost every article that doesn't have a high enough comment count. pretty lame

Avatar image for Unelmat
Unelmat

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

really like to try this with an oculus rift

Avatar image for TomAraya1981
TomAraya1981

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

i think this game deserve more than a 7.0 :)


Avatar image for chayhandsome
chayhandsome

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I guarantee you, this is scarier than the slender man i played both and slender looks terrible i couldn't take it seriously especially the first slender man which everyone screamed at. I just stood there and said "whats wrong with your body it looks like a football post :S and when i got caught and see the close up of his face i said "nice pixels". And after i shrugged and was like 'is that it'?


P.S graphics is god

Avatar image for iphlyjaii
iphlyjaii

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By iphlyjaii

An injustice to this game and its developers from the 7 rating. 8-8.5 more like it.

Avatar image for Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

702

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 9

User Lists: 0

Edited By Morphine_OD

This game blows, it's a jump-scare fest with constant fetch-quests, stupid AI and derivative environments. Please give me back my sweet Penumbra and take this Amnesia copy-paste with you.

Avatar image for chayhandsome
chayhandsome

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@Morphine_OD you can have penumbra trash belongs with trash, how can anyone be scared of terribly graphiced monsters i laugh when i see them not scream :S

Avatar image for Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

702

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 9

User Lists: 0

@chayhandsome I laugh when I see someone scream because of monsters. I've jump-scared your mother and here you are - a terribly graphiced monster.

Avatar image for chayhandsome
chayhandsome

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By chayhandsome

@Morphine_OD @chayhandsome woah dude my chest it hurts from how much you upset me i think i might just start crying won't you any your (shitty) i mean good penumbra ever forgive...... said no one ever lol at leash shes in HD not pixels plus your mum told me last night not to argue with you o and she told me not to tell you your adopted..... woops forge that, and unloved..... thats harsh dude.

Avatar image for mucking_foron
mucking_foron

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@Morphine_OD

LOL stupid AI. You know it's an insane asylum, right. what do mean derivative environments? Did you just look that up in the dictionary and thought it applies to this particular video game? fail

Avatar image for Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

702

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 9

User Lists: 0

@mucking_foron I think I should trust you on IQ of asylum inmates. You're speaking like someone with first-hand experience.

Avatar image for Drew1333
Drew1333

44

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@Kaz32 @torrne667 Condemned Criminal Origins was scary as ****!!!!

Avatar image for deactivated-584419ec3a052
deactivated-584419ec3a052

333

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

I'm trying to imagine how terrible the crazy doctor scene would be with the rift.

Avatar image for gbrading
gbrading

8074

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 35

User Lists: 0

Scary stuff. Will be interesting to see what score Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs gets.

Avatar image for Jonno621
Jonno621

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@AggrandizedUser Stick to the shadows!

Avatar image for mucking_foron
mucking_foron

25

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By mucking_foron

7/10 pfft. I bet if the inmates were lesbians, it would have gotten over 9/10

There's is nothing scarier than crazy lesbians.

Outlast More Info

Follow
  • First Released Sep 4, 2013
    released
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • + 4 more
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Hell is an experiment you can't survive in Outlast, a first-person survival horror game developed by veterans of some of the biggest game franchises in history.
    7.9
    Average Rating595 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Outlast
    Developed by:
    Red Barrels
    Published by:
    Red Barrels, Limited Run Games
    Genre(s):
    3D, Action, Adventure, Survival
    Theme(s):
    Horror
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language