REVIEW – Outlast cannot be considered a weak title. Despite being indie, it absolutely stood out nicely in the early titles of the PlayStation 4’s lineup and it succeeded – no wonder that it received a standalone DLC called Whistleblower. Did it manage to step over the borders of the original? Well… I’m not so sure about it… or am I?
When Red Barrels has put Outlast out in 2014 February, everyone was curious about how a journalist can survive in an abandoned asylum. Survive, I have to point this out – there was no way to actually attack enemies, with the exception of some scripted events, so basically, our hero was defenseless. Whistleblower is the prequel… and actually, the sequel to the original, which gives a different guy for us to control.
The beginning of the end
I can’t immediately think of a DLC (or hell, a base game while I’m at it), which functioned as a prequel and a sequel simultaneously – but in the case of Whistleblower, it actually works well. Instead of Miles Upshur, the lead character this time around is Waylon Park – he’s the guy who gave the info to Miles to come here. This is how the two characters’ story and life ties together in the Mount Massive Asylum.
This actually has a good point to the story, because, after the base game, there wasn’t that good feeling when standing up from the couch while that credit list rolled down. With Whistleblower, the story ended up full, which is one of the main reasons I’d recommend checking the game out.
When it comes to the gameplay, the obvious question springs up: in how much did Whistleblower managed to change? There’s not going to be just one main bad guy, but instead, multiple antagonists will try to crush Mr. Park forever. Yet, our good old trustworthy night vision camera will still provide us a bit of a relief to not feel entirely hopeless and blind, which all makes an exciting combination. Actually, this is what made Outlast successful: the game keeps pumping adrenaline in us because one small mistake – or just not concentrating at some points – can result in our death.
It still renews itself
What I found in the original Outlast a little too abused, almost reaching the point of being cliché, was the jumpscare usage. Yes, it can be effective, but only to a certain point – crossing that line can make them tiresome instead. Thankfully, Red Barrels went down a different route this time around. To not spoil things, I’d just describe some scenes: they will eventually build up and at the end, they will most likely trigger a “WTF!!!” reaction at the end. I like that – if the base game worked this way, undoubtedly it would have been an even bigger success.
Whistleblower has renewed the gameplay at other points though: despite revisiting some of the previously seen points in the Asylum (it makes sense though, it’s the same place after all…), new places will also pop up… or would show up, if our batteries wouldn’t run out of power, more often. Yes, this time around, batteries play an even bigger role: we have to make sure to not abuse them at the first possible chance. This affects two things: it not only raises the fear factor’s bar higher, but it also makes our game risky to look for those batteries when we need them.
How does it look and sound like?
Graphically it keeps the level of the original, with some minor touches though. There are a few fog effects here and there, making the already decent looking game look better. The game’s running on Unreal Engine 3.5, but I’d definitely like to see how it would run on UE4….
Sounds are okay for most of the time, but some scenes were just not working. Some of them had minimal but noticeable delays, and I can’t really understand that… it’s affecting the game overall in a bad way, despite having audiovisually good aspects.
Both on the same level?
The student hasn’t rise above the master, but it seems to be on the same level with that. The story’s presentation, the slightly tuned up gameplay aspects, and the upgraded graphics are all put on the positive side of the scale, but on the other side, I’d bring the audio errors and the length. For me, it was a bit more than 2.5 hours, although this time wasn’t a disappointment. It’s not better than the base game, but I’d still say that if you liked the original, I can only recommend giving Whistleblower a shot. And now, please excuse me, but I have to clean my shirt after spilling my tea all over it after the shock at one place in the game…
+ Updated gameplay
+ Slightly tuned up graphics
+ Prologue and epilogue simultaenously
– It might be a bit short
– Audio bugs
– Looking for batteries, if you are not careful
Editor: Red Barrels
Developer: Red Barrels
Genres: survivor horror, adventure
Publication: February 2015