[E3 2013] Thank God They Left The Lights On

We get to play around with Outlast for a little while.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: June 11, 2013
At long last we were able to get our hands on actual PS4 games today. Yes, it was glorious. Well, except for the 15 minutes or so we spent playing Outlast which were SCARY AS HELL. I mean, it's hard to really be scary when you are in a well-lit section of a giant hall with a half dozen people right around you talking and thousands more milling around a few feet away, but Outlast finds a way. What it would be like home alone at night with the lights out and headphones on I can't even begin to comprehend.

From what I played, the game is best described as straight horror. There isn't any time for collecting the hexagonal crank and placing the 3 crests in the right order to unlock a door. There is only time to run. I started out in a fairly well-lit area and soon found myself entering a foreboding building. Inside it was dark. Very dark. While I didn't have a flashlight, what I did have was a video camera with an infrared setting. This provided at least some level of grainy green-black lighting to let me make my way through the ramshackle building without smashing into walls. Only the battery on that camera was pretty limited and it didn't recharge itself.

So it quickly became a scramble to use the battery in limited doses until I could collect a few spare batteries. Soon, however, I started seeing some really messed up stuff. Bodies strewn about here and there. A shelf full of human heads. Eerie sounds from all around. Then things started going dark as I ran out of battery. I thought I saw something, but was it just a trick of the shadows?

I soldiered on, as more and more crazy things started happening and the tension ratcheted up even higher. Wait, was that someone? No, it was just more shadows. I found a battery, but it only lasted about a minute before it was drained again. I slid through more narrow corridors and clambered across busted door frames. Surely there was someone else here? Anyone? I still heard disturbing things.

Finally I wandered into a hallway with a locked door at the end. I paused to figure out where I went wrong, straining in the dark to look for another path. Suddenly there was a terrible sound and the door began to come apart. I hesitated a second too long before fleeing and just had time to catch a glimpse of a horrific monster bursting out. Now in almost total darkness I prayed I'd find safety as I had no way to defend myself. An open doorway beckoned and as I tumbled into the room I saw a locker. Remembering my video game training I threw it open and dived in, slamming the door shut behind me. Alas, my pursuer was mere steps behind and saw exactly where I went. As I peered through the vents in the locker I saw him turn and then I saw nothing as he tore the door open and tore me open. A scream caught in my throat as the somber screen informing of my death materialized.

I've played my fair share of horror games, but the demo for Outlast was hands down the scariest thing I've come across. The fellow playing next me literally screamed out loud several times before putting the controller down and walking away because it was too much. One of the developers related a tale from PAX where an entire booth fell over because the person playing got so scared and jumped so high. You never quite realize how much tension is built up when you realize you have no means to defend yourself and you don't even have the means to see clearly.

Outlast is scheduled to come out shortly after the launch of the PS4, so as long as don't have the usual litany of maladies that prevent you from riding a roller coaster you should put this on your list of games to keep an eye on going forward. We certainly are.