Outlast Whistleblower DLC Review: Relentless Horror
Outlast is a scary game, that much is an understatement. No single person who plays it looks at video games the same way again. Perhaps its because the horror genre has dropped off in quality and popularity in the last decade that make a game like Outlast so terrifying and so ingenious. The main game was a test in bravery just to get to the credits for those that played it. The Whistleblower DLC takes us back to Mount Massive Asylum for another terrifying adventure even if it isn’t as great as the game’s original story mode.
WhistleBlower follows what has to be the worst night of Waylon Park’s life. He’s the employee at the asylum who contacts the character from the main game’s story and is caught by the aslyum’s twisted staff. For whatever reason, Park didn’t think a company that tortures people and creates supernatural entities that he can’t explain would be smart enough to spy on his emails.
The plot doesn’t have as many side details as the main Outlast campaign but Red Barrels delivers some solid backstory via the letters Waylon finds around the asylum, particularly the ones that reveal information about Waylon’s wife and family. The story is unrelentingly bleak just as you would expect and introduces new villains and characters, resisting the temptation to rely on those who already appeared in the main game.
This also backs up the asylum’s name, Mount Massive, as Whistleblower shows how an entirely different set of terrifying events can be happening during the same time that Miles Upshur is doing his investigation. Red Barrels must be given credit for intertwining the plot of Outlast and The Whistleblower with precision, it works very well and expands upon the game’s signature universe well.
You don’t need me to explain how Whistleblower plays. You see a threatening figure in the distance, said threatening figure runs after you and you hide under a bed or in a locker. If you just finished the original Outlast then perhaps this gameplay is starting to wear on you but for those of us who finished it months ago Whistleblower is a fun step back into terror despite some repetition.
That’s where the Whistleblower stumbles, the repetition of analyzing a location to discover where enemies can and can’t get to you. Its thrilling throughout but due to the Whistleblower’s short length it becomes even more apparent how much of a one trick pony Outlast is. Sometimes you’ll respawn right next to the enemy you’re suppose to be avoiding, adding a cheap feeling to the game’s big cat and mouse mechanic. That said, this one trick is amazing and thoroughly enjoyable. That trick is creating a tense, nerve wracking atmosphere.
The game’s atmosphere wouldn’t be creepy without Outlast’s trademark gore and negative imagery. Whistleblower steps everything up a notch. Without giving anything away, this game can get very gross and disturbing. We’re talking forced gender reassignment grotesque and more. This makes the enemies incredibly menacing as they should be since this is a horror game. Outlast would be a very boring game without its highly detailed world with the unique patients of Mount Massive Asylum.
Visually Outlast has always been one of a kind with character and environmental designs that work together to craft one of the most eerie settings in all of video games. Whistleblower doesn’t really stray far from what you’d see in Outlast and it shouldn’t since it takes place before, during and after the events of the original story.
For comparison a recent horror title released on PS4, Daylight, shows how much The Whistleblower gets right. It isn’t enough to have a creepy atmosphere alone, the gameplay must have characters that provoke actual terror in the player despite not being all that terrifying to look at.
What’s more creepy, a ghost with holes for eyes or a deranged man masturbating over a pile of dead bodies and is completely oblivious to your presence? The Whistleblower at $8.99 offers roughly 2-3 hours of fun, tense gameplay and puts Zombie Studios’s recent procedurally generated title to shame with proper execution and an atmosphere that distracts from the game’s weaknesses, making the entire experience much more enjoyable than it should be on paper.
The Whistleblower is not for the weak of heart but no one who has played Outlast is surprised by that. It truly pushes the envelope in terms of negative imagery and scares over what the original game did and is a great value at $8.99. My only real gripe is that it pushes you forward, putting players on the run almost the entire time. While this is expected, one of the best parts of Outlast’s original story mode is that there were a few moments to take everything in and explore more.
The Whistleblower will be the single most off-putting DLC this year and that’s what it sets out to do. Make the player unrelentingly nervous and create an unwavering sense of dread as you try to get Waylon Park out of Mount Massive.
There is never a relaxing moment in The Whistleblower and that's what makes it good. The superb production values with solid visuals, excellent writing and well done audio combine to make Mount Massive Asylum a truly terrifying place to be. Review copy provided by Red Barrels. Completed in roughly 3 hours.