It seems suitable that the shock release of the Nintendo Switch’s first year be one of the more traumatic gaming experiences to have released in the last 10 years. Outlast: Bundle of Terror crept up on us like an insane patient at Mount Massive Asylum, and we’re strangely thankful for it.
In a way, though, it comes as no surprise. While Nintendo spent the better part of a decade preoccupied with its own first party titles, the Nintendo 64 saw the release of Resident Evil 2 and 3. The Kyoto-based giant’s next console, the GameCube, was home to the timed-exclusive Resident Evil 4, a move that shocked PlayStation owners and video game enthusiasts as a whole. Since then, that side of Nintendo has calmed, with only Resident Evil Revelations and Hollow on the Switch to show for it.
Despite the lack of recent horror releases, Outlast hits with a bang. While it’s been available for several years across all other platforms, with Outlast 2 releasing last year, it proves that it’s still more than relevant. And it proves that Nintendo’s latest hybrid console is more than capable of helping it through its jump scares – even in handheld mode.
In Outlast, players play as Miles Upshur, a journalist investigating the goings-on at the aforementioned Mount Massive Asylum. He’s been tipped off by a whistleblower – whose story you learn more about in the included DLC – and taken the task of finding out what the Murkoff Corporation is doing inside the asylum.
As a journalist, Miles doesn’t carry weaponry. Instead, he takes a basic camera and notebook, as you realistically would. This is where Outlast excels at survival horror: it’s not the case that you have to maintain your weaponry and store your ammo, but that you don’t have any weapons or ammo in the first place. With limited battery life on your camera – your only source of sight when things turn dark – the horror is real. Often, you won’t know what’s right in front of you. The only options? Hide. And if that doesn’t work? Run.
While this undoubtedly makes Outlast a horror experience to forget, it means it can be shallow at times. The jump scares and building of tension make it well worthwhile, but it can sometimes feel like an exercise in walking and watching as opposed to actually being involved in anything. It’s more simulator than anything else, which to some may get tedious.
Yet as far as horror games go, Outlast is up there with some of the best. It takes what made the first three and most recent Resident Evils brilliant and strips it back even further. You have nothing to defend yourself with, and that’s a scary thought. It taps into that idea of ‘what if this were real?’ With Outlast, every bit feels real and unexaggerated, purely because you’re defenceless against your enemies – likely how it would be in real life.
It’s credit to Red Barrels that they managed to port the game so well onto the Switch, particularly in handheld mode, and without the rest of the world knowing it was even happening. But it’s also credit to Nintendo, once again showing that it’s ready to allow these types of games on its system. The Wii and Wii U never had their Resident Evil 4s, but things are looking more promising for the Switch.
The inclusion of the Whilstleblower DLC makes Outlast: Bundle of Terrors essential for those who only own the base game. At £19.99, it’s a bargain to be able to play at home and on the go. If you already own the vanilla Outlast and the DLC, though, the Switch version just isn’t different enough to warrant another purchase. Yet for those who have never played Outlast, Nintendo’s version is worth the extra money you’d pay to play it on another platform. Outlast has always been fun to play at home, but the hybrid capabilities on the Switch bring another element to the horror, and mean you can never be too far away from tension.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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