Outlast Trials Review – Misery Loves Company

As a major fan of horror in all its forms, I’ve always loved the Outlast series. I was hooked from the moment I played the first game with its claustrophobic halls and the iconic green hue of night vision on my handheld camera. The sequel, particularly a scene involving a cornfield (if you know, you know), will forever be a mainstay in my nightmares. Outlast Trials has always intrigued me. What would happen if Outlast was multiplayer and cooperative? Could a live service surrounding this take on the series have legs? Now that Outlast Trials is out of early access and running its new “Prime Time” event, it’s time to see how this multiplayer variation compares to the horror of the prior two games. Does misery love company, or would it have been better to go alone? Let’s find out. A Fresh Take on the Series If you asked me about the viability of a multiplayer horror game a decade ago, I’d tell you to stick with single-player. Horror is supposed to be isolating and lonely. If you add people, you take away tension. Of course, recent years have proven me wrong on that front. Games like Dead by Daylight and other asymmetric titles have shown that you can add players without taking away scares. It’s all about the balance of power. Sure, you can have four people running around, but if their combined skills and abilities leave them vulnerable to what goes bump in the night, you can still achieve the scares you’re looking for. Outlast has always leaned heavily into this dynamic in its prior titles. You could never defend yourself. Your only option was to run, and your only source of visibility was limited to batteries you had to find in the environment. You never had the upper hand; you had moments to breathe, and even those were few and far between. It was oppressive, atmospheric, terrifying, and a little exhausting in long stretches, but it worked. Outlast Trials keeps much of this DNA intact but takes careful steps to make everything repeatable. The game is set in the Cold War era before the other titles in the series. It has you create a character who willingly volunteers for a series of trials, hoping they can turn their life around. The Murkoff Corporation wants you, and they’ll use everything from brainwashing to mind control to test the limits of your sanity and your humanity. Let’s just say that the corporation’s idea of “rehabilitation” comes from the school of Jigsaw and the SAW movies. Once you’ve finished a very tense opening that involves you erasing all evidence of your existence, the game puts you in a cell of your very own, and it’s here you’ll meet up with other players or venture into the trials on your own. Beyond the opening, the game’s story is limited to evidence you find in the various maps during your trials. There’s a good number of these for lore hunters, which I … Read More

Amnesia: The Bunker Review – Greatest Hits Horror

The Amnesia series from Frictional Games is one of the all-time horror greats. I was a fan of Frictional even before their breakout hit, though, back when Penumbra was their brand of horror. While that series has remained dormant, the bones of it still exist even in their latest release: Amnesia: The Bunker. In Amnesia: The Bunker, you play as a soldier in WWI who must evade a monster within an underground bunker long enough to facilitate your escape. It’s a simple, but effective premise with a unique setting. Is this enough to put this series back on the top of horror gaming? Let’s find out. A Streamlined Return to Form, but Does The Old Formula Work? The last Amnesia game, Rebirth, was met with mixed reception due to a number of factors. On the one hand, it was much larger in scope than prior games, which are usually limited to a few locations. The narrative was also far more grand and sci-fi than I think many expected. It was also low on scares, though it did have them. The penalty for death wasn’t very severe, and large portions of it were tense, but lacked any true threat to the player. Contrast this with the first game in the series, where you’re always on edge, and it’s easy to see why Rebirth didn’t quite land. With Amnesia: The Bunker, it’s clear that Frictional Games wanted to go back to their roots. The concept is simple, the horror is constant, and the tension is nigh-overwhelming. It worked wonders back in the day, but I left my experience with The Bunker wondering if perhaps things became too streamlined? Amnesia: The Bunker begins in the trenches of WWI, where explosions rock the screen and bullets fly during the tutorial. It’s a different kind of horror, but effective nonetheless. It’s not long, though before you awake in an underground bunker and soon find yourself alone with only the promise of a monster to keep you company. The mechanics are refreshingly simple this time around. You are armed with a crank flashlight, a revolver, and limited inventory space to explore the bunker with. Much like a sort of roguelike structure, you have a central safe room with a map, a stash, a crafting table, and a generator that lets you recoup your losses between journeys out into the Bunker. While prior games in the series had you steadily lose sanity in the dark, that mechanic is absent from Amnesia: The Bunker. Instead, the monster that stalks you is afraid of light and therefore becomes a constant threat in the dark. The aforementioned crank flashlight helps, but the sound of winding it up gives away your position. Thankfully, you can fuel up the generator in your safe room before heading out to look for supplies and a way forward. Don’t worry, there’s a catch. The fuel in the game is finite, so you’ll want to make the most of your time while the lights are on, … Read More

Ghostwire: Tokyo February Showcase: New Details and Release Date!

Sony is hosted a livestream for Ghostwire: Tokyo on February 3rd, and we were eager to see some new details! The title comes to us from the developers of The Evil Within, so horror seems like a safe bet, but let’s dive in and see what the stream revealed! Highlights from the Ghostwire: Tokyo February 2022 Stream! Among all of the new horror titles coming to PS5, Ghostwire: Tokyo has stood out for its focus on Japanese horror, and the pedigree of Tango Gameworks who developed The Evil Within 1 and 2 prior to this title. The first thing that caught my eye again during the showcase were the enemy designs. Not only are they 100% terrifying, but they showcase a lot of variety in their designs. Whether it’s the classic woman with long black hair covering her face, or the girl in a yellow raincoat, or the headless schoolgirl dancing around the environment. The Slender Man-esque enemies in business suits with a blank slate of a face are really unsettling as well. The game goes beyond style though, and as part of the opening moments in the showcase, we learn about a number of mechanics and the first-person combat. Tango Gameworks describes the game as an action-adventure thriller with paranormal elements, but it still feels like a horror game to me based on the visual alone. You seem pretty powerful to fight back, however. The combat focuses on a power called “Ethereal Weaving” which has you channeling elements like fire, water, and air to chain together impressive looking attacks. The animation during the combat is stunning, and it makes me hope the combat is as fun to play as it is to watch, because it’s thrilling in motion. The storyline takes place in Tokyo after the population vanishes and a mysterious fog sweeps through the city, bringing all manner of supernatural monsters with it. You are possessed by a spirit who gives you your powers, and gameplay seems to be fairly open world with a grappling mechanic and Tori gates to cleanse to remove fog from areas that are infested and will drain your health. In addition to the combat, they also mention strange distortions that mess with time and space, which you’ll need to enter as part of the story. I could see these being more traditional horror and maybe less combat focused, but we shall see. The stream above eventually shows a chunk of gameplay before showing interviews with the developers. Seeing everything in motion is truly impressive and gives me high hopes for how the combat will look and feel in the finished game. We also know that the release date is soon! March 25th, and preorders on the PlayStation Store get you 3-day early access. I’m not totally sold on the main character or story just based on how rigid the cutscenes felt, but I am all in on the style and setting. What did you think of the stream? Are you picking up Ghostwire: … Read More

Happy’s Humble Burger Farm Review – Much More Than Just Flipping Burgers

There are games so prominent that they create their own subgenre on arrival. A perfect example is Dark Souls, which gave rise to the “Soulslike” term used on all manner of hardcore RPGs. Similarly, regardless of the creator’s shortcomings, Five Nights at Freddy’s spawned its own subgenre of horror punctuated by cutesy mascots that hide a deeper, more diabolic intent. Not only that, but these types of games often place you in a mundane setting, like a restaurant or fast food joint. Welcome to the latest entry in this subgenre of horror: Happy’s Humble Burger Farm. This title combines restaurant management with a wider setting that seems to hide something sinister beneath its surface. Does this unique combination produce delicious horror, or is this burger undercooked? Let’s find out. A Solid Cooking Game Wrapped in an Insatiable Mystery When I first booted up Happy’s Humble Burger Farm, I thought I knew what to expect. I figured I would be confined to the titular restaurant and would be subjected to jump scares while making sure some exhausted and hungry customer gets their burger and fries (or possibly salmon nuggets, which I didn’t know were a thing). Instead, Happy’s Humble Burger Farm (HHBF?) immediately opens with something unexpected, tossing you into your apartment and into the wider environment of New Elysian City. From the onset, the game has this aura of mystery about the town you’re in and the nature of your place within it that I found irresistible. Whether it’s the locked doors in your apartment building that possess keypads, the fever-dream content that plays on your television, or the buildings that loom just outside your reach as you walk through the city streets at night on your way to a shift, everything in Happy’s Humble Burger Farm seems to belie a deeper mystery, and as you progress, you’ll find that these instincts are correct. A brochure menu that you can pull up at will gives you some basic information on the cooking mechanics, and quick tutorial brings you up to speed when you first arrive at the restaurant, but things like being able to pick up multiple ingredients and distribute them across the grill or onto a bun weren’t immediately apparent to me. Part of that comes down to how things in the world are presented. While I loved the in-game representation of mechanics and story, stylized on colorful backgrounds and featuring the mascots that you’ll soon content with as the game goes on, without any kind of text or zoom option, it was very difficult to read items I found in the world or messages written in my brochure menu. I imagine this would be easier on a monitor, but I was sitting on a couch in front of a 65-inch TV, so the readability here was an issue for me, doubly so because you need to read a lot of things to gather story elements and when using the game’s vending machines to buy collectibles or healing items. … Read More

PS5 Horror Games

Fear isn’t a word in your vocabulary. You don’t mind blood, gore, intense violence, or any of those things. You want to be shocked, horrified, and scared out of your mind. These are the games for you. Horror Games For The PS5 DARQ Complete Edition Dead by Daylight Dying Light 2 GhostWire: Tokyo In Rays of The Light In Sound Mind Martha is Dead Monstrum II Observer: System Redux Quantum Error Resident Evil Village Returnal Scorn Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 Our Top Predictions For Horror Games on The PS5 1. Frictional Games (Amnesia, SOMA) Frictional Games are known for their Amnesia titles, but they’ve also branched off into existential horror with their PS4 title SOMA. It’s clear they’re not afraid to try different stories and settings, so I imagine we’ll see something brand new on the PS5 from them. They’ve managed to scare me in all kinds of ways, so it will be interesting to see how they manage to up their game on the next generation. While their current title, Amnesia: Rebirth comes to PS4 in fall of 2020, they have yet to say if this new entry will come to the next generation, or if they have something else cooking up for the PS5. 2. Silent Hill The cancellation of Silent Hills was a major blow to the gaming industry. Kojima and legendary director Del Toro were both on the project, and it was looking incredible. Konami clearly has a screw loose, but I’m holding out hope that they come to their senses, or at the very least let someone bring back this classic series. With Resident Evil coming back, it’s only fair that Silent Hill gets a chance too on the PS5. 3. Until Dawn Until Dawn was an excellent homage to classic horror stories, and the Butterfly Effect system blew me away with the various ways the story could be influenced by your choices and actions. Even the VR spinoff was really fun, but Until Dawn is a game that begs some sort of sequel. Whether it’s new people or some kind of continuation from the first one, this game needs to have some sort of presence on the PS5. 4. The Evil Within We’ve already heard rumors about a sequel to Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within, but this series is a welcome addition to the horror catalog. While the first one had some rough edges, its heart was in the right place, and the unique story made for some really interesting twists, turns, and revelations. The PS5 could truly lend the cinematic feel to this series that the creators were going for in the first one. We need to see it on the PS5. 5. Summoning The Indie Developers Independent developers (indies) have been making some of the most interesting horror games this generation, and that will absolutely continue on the PS5. Smaller teams and studios are making titles like Lone Survivor, Sylvio, and Claire, all of which are unique and interesting takes on … Read More