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

INDIKA Review – Playing Devil’s Advocate

I have played video games since I was old enough to hold a controller. I cut my teeth on the Sega Genesis and my parents’ Apple Macintosh computer. I’ve been a console and PC gamer ever since, and I’ve played thousands of titles over the years. I say all of that because I’ve never played anything quite like INDIKA in all that time. While you can pick apart the elements of INDIKA and categorize its gameplay, once you put everything together, it becomes more than the sum of its parts. It’s wild, weird, funny, and even profound. It’s not for everyone, but is it for you? Let’s find out. A Fever Dream of a Game INDIKA is a third-person adventure set in an alternate version of 19th-century Russia. You play as a nun named Indika, who is a bit of a black swan among the others at her convent. From the beginning of the game, it’s very clear that the other look down on her. As if this wasn’t enough, Indika also hears a voice she’s convinced is the devil himself speaking to her. I told you this was going to get weird. There are a few odd moments from the beginning, but the opening is purposefully simple from a gameplay standpoint. You run simple errands and perform chores for a few other nuns as the devil’s voice waxes poetic and chastises you. You collect points, contributing to a simple skill tree that offers abilities that ultimately earn you more points. From the beginning, the game informs you that these points don’t matter, and they don’t. You won’t get any special endings or secret unlocks from collecting them (or the collectibles you can find), but the presence of the whole system reminds you that you’re still playing a video game at the end of the day. There’s also something surreal about doing something simple like filling up a bucket of water from a well, only to be rewarded but retro-style pixelated coins that wouldn’t be out of place in a Mario title. As the game progresses, INDIKA leans into the surreal and strange nature of its character and the world around her. This alternate version of Russia is bleak and filled with strange side characters. It’s also violent, as she soon crosses paths with a wounded soldier companion who is seeking help. The two become an unlikely duo as the game goes on, venturing through various environments, from a dilapidated village to a canning factory. At certain points in the story, you’ll also see flashbacks that flesh out Indika’s backstory. These are presented in a retro pixelated style and often require precise platforming or simple arcade-style gameplay. They offer a nice variety to the main game, mainly exploration and puzzle-solving. When you combine both pieces, even though the entire experience only lasts about 5-6 hours, you get a lot of variety across INDIKA. I particularly enjoyed the moments when the devil’s voice in Indika’s head becomes overwhelming, leading to strange … Read More

Aliens Fireteam Elite Review?

Some of you have been wondering where our Aliens Fireteam Elite review is. I’m here to clear that up for you. It just wasn’t good enough to bother publishing a review. No, it’s not a 1 out of 10 title, but it is closer to a 4 out of 10. It feels and looks unoriginal and doesn’t come close to providing a long run experience before it becomes repetitive.  Graphics are bottom barrel and controls aren’t that tight. Sure, it costs less than your typical triple A title, but even a lower cost can’t justify paying full price. No matter the price (even if it was free), it would still be a disappointing third person shooter that would be better as a poster and not much more.  Granted, that’s my opinion and not all of us will agree, but that’s my stance. 4 out of 10 and even that’s giving it too high of a score for my taste. What did you think of the Aliens Fireteam? Were you lucky enough to pass or did you play? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

Maneater Review

So, Maneater released last month and while I had full intentions of bringing you my thoughts on the game closer to its initial release date, I felt compelled to hold off so I could really “dive in” the game. I regret that decision now because there was really no need to try and discover everything I could.    In Maneater, you play the role of a shark. If you’re more into fishing than being fished yourself, you might not enjoy the shark justice this game provides, but that aside, there is a little more to the game, but playing as a killer shark that’s taking revenge out on human society (think JAWS the movie) pretty much sums up the bulk of the game.    It is a RPG title and rightfully so. As you stalk the water throughout the game, you level up as you grow into an adult shark. You unlock upgrades as you play. Things early on such as a sonar to detect all the life in the surrounding area and electric bites that stun and deal a little extra damage take the shark to a level that only a video game could deliver. If sharks did evolve in real life that way our protagonist does in game, we’d all be screwed and likely wouldn’t survive a trip on the water Luckily, we dodged that evolution bullet!   Upgrading along the way is pretty simple. You have a slew of missions and side missions to complete. One minute you could be hunting a killer alligator at large or you’re in need of killing 10 humans in the swimming hole. There are plenty of things for you to do while you explore an open world of water and yes, a little bit of land. Some missions might be a little challenging depending on your level, but for the most part, it’s all pretty easy. Even as you hunt people and they send their own hunters out to catch and kill you, it’s a little too easy. Even what you could consider boss fights, don’t really offer much challenge.  The simplicity is fine and all and at the end of the day, this game shouldn’t be taken too seriously. You’re certainly not going to find much challenge, but one you will find is repetition. Most games are repetitious to some degree, but I’m no kidding when I say that after 30 minutes of gameplay, you’re not going to see much more in regards to something new. On the one hand, you’re playing as a shark, what can you expect? On the other, you’re a friggin shark video game, I mean they could have offered endless possibilities, but they watered it down a little. Pun kind of intended.    So, to chalk it all up, the game is a lot of fun, but for me anyway, it’s only fun in small doses. I enjoyed chomping on a few people that were swimming and enjoying the sun in their flamingo floats. There … Read More