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Soiled pants: Outlast will scare the crap out of you

Tuesday, 29 January 2013 13:34 GMT By Dave Cook

Outlast is the incoming PC horror game from Red Barrels, a Montreal studio with history in the Prince of Persia and Uncharted franchises. Dave speaks with co-founder Philippe Morin to find out just how scary it is.

Red Barrels

Formed in the Summer of 2011, the Red Barrels team worked at EA until the project they were developing was cancelled. They took it as a sign to form a new studio.

Outlast is their debut title, blending stealth and parkour elements into one rather terrifying mix. Your character’s camera is your only source of light.

You have no means of attacking the game’s enemies either, so staying quiet, hidden and safe is the key to survival.

Head over to the Outlast game page to check out the team’s trailers so far. Caution: they’re rather creepy.

Red Barrels is indicative of a big change in gaming these days. We’ve seen several veterans of the industry leave their comfortable positions at big-name studios to then set up independently. Be it to pursue a pet project, or to take advantage of the many routes to market available to new developers today, more and more people are making the switch.

The Montreal studio is certainly steeped in experience, as its members have worked on prolific titles ranging from Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell: Conviction, so if there’s one thing these guys know, it’s action.

The concern is that action often fails to gel with horror – a common complain aimed at Resident Evil 6 – but in Outlast the team is taking a neat slant on the genre. The game follows reporter Miles Upshur as he breaks into an abandoned asylum in an attempt to expose a shadowy corporation. Armed with his camera’s night vision as his only source of light, he soon gets more than he bargained for.

Unknown to Upshur, the facility is teeming with the remnants of human experiments – rabid, bloodthirsty patients out to kill the player at any cost. With little in the way of combat experience or weaponry, your only option is to run, and run fast. It’s a first-person title with plenty of parkour action – think Amnesia meets Mirror’s Edge and you’re along the right lines.

“Me and David [Chateauneuf] have been trying to make a horror game for a long time, “studio co-founder Philippe Morin told me. “Horror has always been at the top of our list. Then it was a matter of figuring out what kind of twists we could bring to the mix. At this time Amnesia had been out for a few months, and we thought their move to go back to survival horror by having no combat was really interesting.

“At the same time we were trying to capitalise on our own experiences. So using David and Hugo [Dallaire's] experience on Splinter Cell for stealth and using our own experience on Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed for traversal and platform – we just came up with our own recipe for a new take on the horror genre.”

As players snoop around the dank, dark hallways of the Mount Massive asylum they need to tread lightly to avoid detection. Being spotted by any of Outlast’s abominations will trigger a desperate sprint to safety, and quite often you’ll have to head for high ground to cheat death using the environment. You’ll be given little time to stop and think as you outrun their clutching hands, all you can do is keep running.

“Traversal mostly comes into play when there are chases, “Morin explained, “so we can make the chases as exciting as possible when you’re running from the enemies. When you’re actually going through the level it’s mostly like a stealth game, but with a horror twist.

“I think to ensure that tension is really high, players have to feel like if they get caught by the enemy, that the chances of being killed are really high. Most of the time if an enemy catches you, chances are you’re going to die, and at that point we try to create maximum tension.

This trailer is awesome if you’re
a horror fan. Scary if you’re not.

“When you’re dealing with enemies it’s the same as a stealth game, where you have to approach them and go around them without making any noise. The difference is that you can’t go to enemies and do a stealth kill, or just take them out with a silenced weapon.”

Although there is scope to create tense moments and a feeling of being grossly underpowered, Morin admits that some critics and gamers have questioned whether players will feel empowered enough while playing Outlast, which personally I find sad to hear, because tension and excitement doesn’t always have to come from the barrel of a gun, or the sharp end of a blade.

Morin responded to this criticism by saying, “I don’t think that’s entirely true. I mean, of course you are powerless when facing enemies, but at the same time you are pro-active in thinking, ‘How am I going to get rid of, or avoid that enemy?’

“The thing is that we’re going to use darkness a lot in the game, like some of us did in Splinter Cell. So that’s where we’re going to use the night vision mechanic. But if you hide under a bed or a desk, the enemies might be able to see the reflection of your camcorder, so players have to turn it off when hiding or else it increases the risk of detection.

“It means that players will be in total darkness, and will only have sound to know whether the enemies are close by, or walking away. So I think that will create a lot of interesting moments of tension.”

Outlast’s story is being penned by one of the original Splinter Cell script writers, but while Red Barrels wants to give players enough backstory to drive progression, that classic horror ambiguity will remain to some degree. Fear of the unknown is, of course, a powerful thing.

“I think by the end of the game players will understand the nature of the experiments the asylum was doing”, Morin explained. “But that’s something I hope will remain a little bit mysterious, and also, that’s something I think players will be interested to find out.

“Of course, the goal of the player is to remain alive, so if some players are only there for the horror then they can play it that way. But players who want to dig more will be able to find more information. It’s not going to be a game where there’s a lot of cinematics, or character throwing information at you. It’ll mostly feel like a Half-Life game, but players who want to take the time to investigate can find more information.”

In terms of what plot there is, Morin likens reporter Upshur to Mikael Blomkvist, the hard-hitting reporter from the Millenium novel trilogy that spawned The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He’s a tough investigator and gets a tip-off about bogus experiments being carried out at the aslyum from an informant he meets on the battlefields of Iraq.

Even the shorter teaser trailer
goes big on tension. Yikes!

In closing I asked Morin if he felt that horror – the saturated zombie genre in particular – would cause gamers to make presumptions about Outlast as ‘Just another zombie game’. For the record the enemies aren’t zombies, but Morin offered an interesting reply.

“You know, a Big Mac is always going to be a Big Mac,” he said. “People never get tired of eating them. So, as long as players feel like there’s something worthy of experiencing, then I think the genre will remain alive.

“I think in our case, what we decided is that the game is taking place in an asylum, so we don’t want our enemies to become ‘total’ zombies. What I mean by that is they already have funky personalities, and are already criminally insane, so that’s what we should focus on.

“Visually the experiments have had consequences on their bodies and their psychology remains criminally insane. You could meet a Hannibal Lecter type and know that he’s totally insane. That’s the kind of character you can meet in our game – they look very normal, and who knows, maybe they’re members of staff and you should trust them?

“This is kind of experience we want to give you. You might see a guy sitting in a wheelchair down a corridor, but you don’t know what to expect. Will they keep mumbling when they pass you or will they jump on you? That’s the kind of uncertainty that gives you the most out of tension. That’s what we want players to feel.”

Are you intrigued and/or scared by the prospect of Outlast yet? Red Barrels is currently working on an Outlast demo. The studio hopes to publish it online at some point in 2013. Until then, you can check out the project over at the official Red Barrels site.

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14 Comments

  1. friendlydave

    Looks and sounds great, pretty solid people behind it to, what he says they are attempting to do sounds good to, look forward to seeing how it all plays out in the finished product. Just a shame I’m to much of a wimp for this stuff so I’ll never play it ^^

    #1 2 years ago
  2. OmegaSlayer

    If it’s scary I want to see the guy from this vid playing it :p
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYF5j6mW6l8

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Samoan Spider

    Hmm, sounds like something I’d get my teeth into. Going to have to keep an eye on this one as its producers are from a decent pedigree and the premise sounds excellent.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Wezzulus

    See people that bash Dead Space 3 for being too much action. THIS is survival horror. No means to fight back, just run, just survive.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. PEYJ

    Hopefully this will be a success, so that console players also will get a chance to enjoy this game as well.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Samoan Spider

    @5 I hope this will be a success for them too but at the same time I hope that it doesn’t get a console release. This is nothing about being snobby, or about the master-race or any such nonsense.
    This is because the PC deserves to have its exclusives and in doing so will help other developers change their mindset from throwing the pc gamers a bone with every multi-platform release, to actually creating new and refreshing high quality exclusive titles alongside their Xbox and PS exclusives.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. manamana

    Yes! Finally something new on the horror front. And no cover shooting in sight…

    #7 2 years ago
  8. PC_PlayBoy

    @6

    50 PC Exclusive Games in 2013

    http://uk.ign.com/articles/2013/01/18/50-pc-exclusive-games-in-2013?page=1

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Samoan Spider

    @8 That list reads pretty well for the format. Point taken.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. monkeygourmet

    On topic :

    Has anyone in history actually ‘shit their pants’ with fear, or is it just something people say?

    I mean, people obviously shit their pants for other reasons: Drink / Drugs etc… I mean, it happens to the best of us. But fear…? Methinks its an urban legend.

    Also, game looks awesome! :)

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Samoan Spider

    Yeah, apparently uncontrollable defecation is a fairly common response to extreme fear. More of a psychological phenomenon than anything else. Unlikely to be brought on by watching a trailer though.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. monkeygourmet

    @11

    Says you!

    (Goes to find change of pants…)

    :D

    #12 2 years ago
  13. sh4dow

    @4: Depending on the circumstances, just surviving MEANS fighting back though. At least I know that if I would be stuck in a house with weird creatures, I’d try to find ANYTHING to kill them with.

    I would appreciate a survival horror game that is very much “open world”, lets you fashion weapons out of pretty much anything and lets you block things with objects, etc.
    But of course you would have to be smart about it and find something that can actually hold off a powerful monster.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. G-Sama

    @ 10 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcSB1B99Clg&list=UU-lHJZR3Gqxm24_Vd_AJ5Yw&index=15
    Lol

    #14 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Hopefully, you pre-ordered the Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Collector’s Edition in the UK already. If not, you are likely out of luck. According to GAME, the pack which contains the Half Scale Replica of Snake’s Bionic Arm has sold out in the UK. The retailer confirmed the news to Videogamer this morning. […]

  • Far Cry 4 Complete Edition coming June 19 for PC, PS4 to the UK

    A Far Cry 4 Complete Edition has been announced and it includes the full game as well as the Season Pass. This is the sku which popped up on Amazon Germany earlier in the week. The Season Pass provides access to five separate pieces of DLC. Here’s a refresher on the DLC content: The Syringe: […]

  • The Witcher 3: live Q&A stream with CDP, new monster dev diary inside

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is out in just two weeks, and if you want to know more about Geralt’s latest adventure, CD Projekt is hosting a live Q&A now on Twitch. There’s also a new developer diary below which focuses on monster in the game. The Witcher 3 is out on May 19. Huzzah! […]

  • Forza Horizon 2′s Alpinestars Car Pack has five cars and is ready for download

    The Alpinestars Car Pack for Forza Horizon 2 is out now on Xbox One and its the only way you will ever be able to afford a 1992 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport. Unless, of course, you win the lottery or are left in some rich person’s will. In that case, I’ll take the ’53 Corvette, […]

  • Shadow of Mordor – Game of the Year Edition is now available in North America

    Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – Game of the Year Edition has been released in North America. It will be made available in the Europe on May 7 and in the UK May 8 for £49.99 on consoles and £34.99 on PC. As previously announced, this edition contains all previously released DLC content as well as […]

  • Two GAME exclusive versions of Halo 5: Guardians now available for pre-order

    GAME has announced two exclusive versions of Halo 5: Guardians, and both are now available for pre-order exclusively through one of the retail chain’s 318 stores or online. The £79.99 Limited Edition Halo 5: Guardians, which delivers new digital content wrapped in a steel book. There’s also the £199.99 Halo 5: Guardians Limited Collector’s Edition […]

  • Deals with Gold: Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Bioshock Infinite, more

    Microsoft has announced its latest Deals with Gold discounts for Xbox Live Gold members. Franchises on sale include Far Cry, Call of Duty, along with individual titles Assassin’s Creed Unity and Bioshock Infinite. The full list is below. Bioshock Infinite discounts are available for both Xbox Live Gold and Silver members. Xbox One Far Cry […]

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood has released, watch the launch trailer here

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood has launched on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You can watch the launch trailer for it below. Boxed copies in Europe arrive from May 15, and in Australia/New Zealand on May 14. You can grab digital copies from the following online services: Steam, PlayStation Network, Xbox Store.

  • GOG’s online service GOG Galaxy is now in open beta

    GOG Galaxy, the DRM-free online gaming platform from the folks at GOG, has left Alpha and is now in open beta for all to try. As previously announced, the online service, similar to Steam, is option. Players do not need to play online as all games are stored by the service and can be played […]

  • DayZ-inspired Goat Simulator DLC GoatZ is out this week on Steam

    Goat Simulator players can download DayZ-inspired DLC this week called GoatZ. According to Coffee Stain Studios, GoatZ is “the only survival game on Steam that isn’t in Early Access.” Jokingly of course. The DLC features: Mandatory crafting system because everyone else is doing it. Zombies that bug out. There’s a pun here about actual living […]

  • No, Far Cry 4 is not currently free on PSN

    You may have seen a few Tweets from people saying that the PS4 version of Far Cry 4 is available to download from PSN for free. This is not true. A few readers have tipped us off to what looked like a glitch on PSN that allowed players to download the full version of Far […]

  • Metal Gear Solid: The 1984 Collection confirmed to be a clothing line

    Konami is teasing a Metal Gear Solid thing called “The 1984 Collection.” The Metal Gear Solid Facebook page posted this image about an hour ago: The caption reads, “Step back into the 80′s with our new MGS collection coming very soon! Stay tuned!” This is supposedly in reference to the clothing line that was announced […]

  • Portal, The Simpsons, Jurassic World & Scooby Doo packs listed for Lego Dimensions

    Lego Dimensions is likely getting a few unannounced content packs. One of which is themed around Valve’s Portal. A set of unannounced content packs for the upcoming Lego Dimensions have been revealed by US retailer Walmart. The listings include packs for The Simpsons, Scooby Doo and Jurassic World, and most interestingly, Portal. The listings have […]

  • This is the most authentic recreation of GTA 2 in real life ever

    Affordable drones have many uses. Most of them are not nearly as exciting as recreating GTA 2 in real life. I am surprised it took us this long, but someone has finally captured footage using a drone that resembles the protagonist’s experience in the classic GTA 2. These aren’t just shots of cars from a […]

  • PlayStation 4 sales reach 2m in the UK

    Sony has sold 2 million PlayStation 4 consoles in the UK, faster than it did with the PlayStation 2 – the company’s best-selling machine in the country. MCVUK is reporting that as of last weekend, 2 million PlayStation 4s have been sold in the UK. The data is based on GfK Chart-Track estimates. This makes […]

  • H1Z1 gets female characters, skin colour options planned

    In an effort to improve diversity in the game, H1Z1 developer has added female characters. Female survivors can now be found throughout the world of H1Z1. Developer Daybreak added the new feature in a patch released last Friday. You will be able to choose a female avatar in the main game and in Battle Royale. […]

  • Possible teaser site for Castlevania creator Koji “IGA” Igarashi’s new game opens

    Either Castlevania creator Koji “IGA” Igarashi is working on a soon-to-be-launched Kickstarter for his new game, or someone is pulling an elaborate prank. At PAX Prime last year, during Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 panel, a flyer was handed out to attendees that showed what appeared to be a 2D game of some sort with […]

  • Destiny weekly reset for May 5: Heroic and Nightfall strikes detailed

    Tuesday is here and Destiny’s weekly reset is also here. Bungie announced that your weekly Destiny grind has now begun. The Nightfall and Heroic strikes are now live too. This week’s strike is Winter’s Run. Rainbow burn is back for the Nightfall, which means you do more damage with all elemental weapons, but also receive […]

  • PC version of Project Cars delayed in Australia due to severe weather

    Recent weather conditions in Sydney, Australia are responsible for a slight delay of the PC version of Project Cars in the country. Sydney recently suffered from storms that caused flooding in some areas. One of those is the place where publisher Namco Bandai was storing PC copies of Project Cars. The stock was “severely damaged,” […]

  • Twitch’s new process makes it easier for streamers to appeal flagged content

    Twitch has updated its appeals process concerning videos that have been flagged by the audio ID system. Towards the end of last year, Twitch introduced a new audio recognition system that scans archived streams and automatically mutes the audio whenever copyright music is identified. The system has been in-use ever since and Twitch has today […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a day one patch, but it’s not a major one

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will indeed have a day one patch, to make the first-time experience as smooth as possible. Like many modern games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will have its day one patch. According to the developer however, it wasn’t born out of necessity. Miles Tost, level designer at developer CD Projekt […]

  • CoD: Advanced Warfare owners get free pistol today

    Advanced Warfare developer Sledgehammer Games is adding a new pistol to the game, free to all players. The M1 Irons is a new pistol that comes to Advanced Warfare starting today. The weapon is offered as a thank you gift from the developer. Sledgehammer says the Irons is good at range and packs a punch. […]

  • Fall down the Skullgirls Big Band music video rabbit hole with me

    Skullgirls is a pretty amazing fighting game, but did you know it’s also a passable music creation suite? Earlier today I was idly perusing an episode of PlayStation Underground showing off Skullgirls 2nd Encore, a re-release of the indie fighter packing in loads of new features and coming to PS4 – with full cross-play! – […]

  • The many uses of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood’s pipe weapon

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood adds a sick new weapon to BJ’s arsenal: a pipe. In Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a pipe is not just a pipe. Not only can you bash nazis with it, you can use it to climb walls, reach hatches, and even break through some walls. Plus? You can dual wield it. […]

  • Mortal Kombat X teaser gives first look at Predator

    Mortal Kombat X’s next celebrity guest was teased during the latest Kast. Today’s Mortal Kombat X Kast was mostly about all about Jason, but also included a very brief nod to Predator. You can watch the full livestream to see the tease in situ if you’re really keen, but IGN shared this convenient edit: There’s […]

  • Rock Band 4 has count-ins, drum fills and vocal harmonies

    Rock Band 4 will more closely emulate the feeling of being a real musician with some neat personalisation touches. For Rock Band 4, Harmonix elected to double down on player ownership of their experience rather than technical precision. To this end, it has implemented a number of cool new features. I am wildly envious of […]

  • Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, Lost Planet 3 developer shuttered

    Spark Unlimited has gone down with all hands. The Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z and Lost Planet 3 developer has been shuttered and all staff laid off. Chief technical officer John Butrovich confirmed the news in a statement issued to IGN. “Spark Unlimited is closing as a video game developer. The ongoing opportunities for smaller mobile […]

  • PS Now subscription available on PlayStation 3 this month, Vita coming soon

    PlayStation Now’s all you can eat service has finally been dated for PS3. Subscriptions to PS Now, Sony’s cloud-based gaming service, will be available on PS3 from May 12 in the US. The all you can eat package will also be made available on select Bravia TVs and Sony Blu-ray players on the same date. […]

  • GTA 5 is even better with a gravity gun

    GTA 5 modders have made a dream come true, adding a gravity gun to your arsenal of mayhem-causing weaponry. GTA 5 isn’t ready for this. It looks like a heck of a lot of fun, but the poor old Los Santos po po can’t deal with the resulting carnage at all. If Rockstar were ever […]

  • “Mod makers should be able to make money from their creations,” says DOOM creator

    DOOM co-creator John Romero has weighed in on the paid mods debate. Paid mods are a hot issue right now. For years, Valve has been enabling content creators to make money from their work on Counter-strike: Global offensive, Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2, but when it partnered with Bethesda to offer the same for […]

  • Watch WRC driver Kevin Abbring smash through a DIRT Rally challenge

    WRC driver Kevin Abbring has been participating in Dirt Rally’s daily events – and kicking ass. Dirt Rally seems to have ticked one of the most difficult to attain boxes of racing development – creating something professional drivers like to play, and which rewards their years of experience. Codemasters published the video below showing Hyundai […]

  • Mortal Kombat X patch to bring PC version up to console standard

    Mortal Kombat X PC will be fixed tomorrow, NetherRealm has promised. The PC version of Mortal Kombat X has come under fire for poor performance, including stuttering frame rate and bugs as plenty. About 45 minutes into a recent Twitch stream, NetherRealm boss Ed Boon said an update will drop tomorrow to address many of […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: all new Crucible maps detailed

    Destiny’s House of Wolves DLC will add four new maps to the Crucible, the game’s competitive multiplayer mode. Let’s take a look at all of them. Alex brings you new footage showing all of the four maps that will drop with House of Wolves. He goes over the layout, landmarks, gameplay styles, and other important […]

  • Custom Xbox One Star Wars controllers look very tempting

    Microsoft is celebrating May 4 by showing off concept designs for Star Wars-themed Xbox One controllers. May 4 is of course Star Wars Day and the controller concepts you’re about to see are just that, concepts. Or at least that’s what they said they are. There are four designs and they don’t look very practical. […]

  • Project Cars launch trailer is an anthology of race cars, set to the beats of Deadmau5

    Project Cars comes out this week and there’s just enough time for one last trailer. Project Cars, Slightly Mad Studios’ ambitious racer that has been in development for ages, is finally coming out this week. The racer received plenty of changes throughout its development based on community feedback and the final product will be in […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront dev reveals planet Sullust

    Sullust, a planet that has not been previously shown, will be featured in one of Star Wars Battlefront’s maps. Star Wars Battlefront developer DICE revealed today that planet Sullust will be one of the game’s locations. The planet was mentioned in the films and other Star Wars works, but was only shown today. DICE posted […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: Tower vendor changes

    House of Wolves will change the inventory of some of Destiny’s vendors and add new roles to others. Here’s everything that has been announced so far. You know that House of Wolves will bring a new social space to the game in the form of The Reef. But did you also know that the good […]

  • Nintendo apologises for Amiibo shortages, will reissue some out-of-stock figures

    Nintendo released a statement today to apologise for fan’s frustrations in finding some Amiibo figures and promised to handle distribution better going forward. Nintendo has been criticised recently for its lack of communication when it comes to new Amiibo figures. Something which has lead fans to not know if certain figures are limited to some […]