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Terror with Teamwork: The Outlast Trials Review


the outlast trials title image with 3 people wearing night vision goggles in the dark
Image: Red Barrels

Hey there fellow gamers! We're jumping into "The Outlast Trials," the latest addition to the Outlast series by developer Red Barrels, felt like slipping into a familiar, yet unnervingly new pair of night vision goggles. As a self-proclaimed horror fan, I've been eagerly awaiting to see how this title stacks up, especially with its shift towards a more cooperative experience. After a decent chunk of gameplay, it's safe to say that this survival horror-style game offers a mixed bag of thrills, chills, and a few spills. Let's break it down this newest edition to the Outlast Franchise.


 

Gameplay


"The Outlast Trials" gameplay is where the game shines the brightest and also stumbles a bit. As a solo player, the game offers a harrowing single-player experience, complete with the expected challenges of managing battery life for your night vision goggles and evading the lethal company of characters like Mother Gooseberry and Skinner Man. The addition of gadgets like the x-ray rig and stun rig adds a nice layer of strategy, making encounters with the enemy AI a lot of fun and a huge part of the game's appeal.


"Reliance on coordinating with others can occasionally detract from the immersive horror"

However, the shift towards a cooperative, multiplayer game brings both a vicarious sort of fun and a bit of frustration. Teaming up with friends or random players to tackle the dark experiments of the Murkoff Corporation is, without a doubt, a good thing and a great time. Yet, the reliance on coordinating with others can occasionally detract from the immersive horror experience that fans of the previous Outlast games have come to love. The prospect of time investment in coordinating play sessions might not be everyone's cup of tea, but when it clicks, it's a whole lot of fun.


 

Story


The story set within the walls of a dilapidated police station and various sinister locations is where "The Outlast Trials" throws its heaviest punches. Diving deeper into the murky waters of the Murkoff Corporation's dark past, the narrative does a commendable job of linking this installment to the overarching lore of the Outlast series. Playing as a test subject in a series of brutal experiments, the player character's journey is one of survival, horror, and discovery.


While the narrative is engaging and a significant draw for the game, it feels like it could have been a little bit more fleshed out. The story sometimes takes a backseat to gameplay, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in a horror game, but a more intertwined approach could have elevated the experience further. Nonetheless, for fans keen on piecing together the Outlast puzzle, the game delivers enough to keep the intrigue alive.


 

Graphics


Graphically, "The Outlast Trials" is a feast for the eyes — assuming you can stomach the general mature content and frequent violence that's a hallmark of the series. The dark and dreary settings, from the foreboding police station to the nightmarish fun park, are rendered beautifully, creating an atmosphere that's both oppressive and inviting. The use of lighting, particularly with the night vision effect, adds to the overall horror experience, making every shadow a potential hiding spot for danger.


Character and enemy designs deserve a special mention. The creativity and detail poured into adversaries like Mother Gooseberry and Skinner Man are commendable, contributing significantly to the horror aspect of the game. However, there are moments when the graphics seem to struggle, particularly in frantic multiplayer scenarios, which can momentarily break the immersion.


 

Audio


The soundscape of "The Outlast Trials" is a meticulously crafted orchestra of horror. Every creak, whisper, and scream is designed to immerse players deeper into the game's terrifying world. The ambient noises within the dilapidated settings, like the eerie silence of an abandoned police station or the unsettling murmurs in the depths of the fun park, are punctuated by the sharp cries of distant enemies or the sudden, heart-stopping sounds of traps springing to lethal life.


"Mother Gooseberry to the menacing Skinner Man, each have distinct audio cues that alert the player to their presence"

What stands out the most is how the game uses sound as a tool for survival. The enemy AI, from the unnerving Mother Gooseberry to the menacing Skinner Man, each have distinct audio cues that alert the player to their presence. Learning these sounds becomes a crucial strategy, especially when navigating in near-total darkness, relying on your dwindling battery life. The auditory feedback when using gadgets like the stun rig or the x-ray rig also adds layers to the gameplay, providing not just immersive realism but also vital cues in the heat of escape or combat.


 

Conclusion


"The Outlast Trials" stands as a solid entry in the horror genre and the Outlast series It offers a lot for both the horror fan and those looking for a cooperative experience. While the blend of single-player and multiplayer elements doesn't always mix perfectly, the overall experience is a lot of fun and offers a good amount of replayability. Red Barrels has taken a bold step with this game, and while not every gamble pays off, "The Outlast Trials" is undoubtedly worth the time investment for those willing to embrace its blend of scares and teamwork. Whether you're a seasoned veteran of the series or a newcomer looking to dive into the horror genre, this game has something to offer.


7/10

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