Outlast: Bundle of Terror
Developer: Red Barrels
Publisher: Red Barrels
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Release date: February 27, 2018
Price: $24.99 USD
Having already played Outlast on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, I was surprised by how excited I was to jump back in for a fourth go when developer Red Barrels stealthily released the nearly five-year-old horror title and its extra Whistleblower chapter for the Nintendo Switch. After spending the last week with the Bundle of Terror, I can confidently say that Outlast is at its most terrifying when played in the dark, wearing headphones, with the Switch tightly gripped in the sweaty palms of my hands.
While I wholeheartedly believe that most horror fans have already dipped their toes into Outlast’s intense brand of terror on one of the other platforms, the Nintendo Switch is introducing plenty of games to a new audience.
For those of you unfamiliar, Outlast is a first-person horror game that removes the safety of combat and places you inside of the Mount Massive Asylum deep in the Colorado mountains. As investigative journalist Miles Upshur, you’ve just received a tip that the “research and charity” wing of the Murkoff Corporation has been occupying the abandoned facility. Armed with nothing but a digital camcorder and a handful of batteries, you infiltrate the grounds in an attempt to document the goings on inside, but things are far worse than you could have ever imagined.
Twisted experiments and deranged patients roam freely, freshly severed heads adorn shelves like trophies, and scattered documentation alludes to an otherworldly project known as Walrider. It’s also worth noting that Outlast is rife with disturbing imagery, nudity, profanity, and doesn’t shy away from gore, so if you’re the squeamish type you may want to prepare yourself before diving in.
Surviving is paramount, but escaping is far from simple. You see, Miles isn’t a fighter by any stretch of the imagination. You’ll be stalked, hunted, and chased around the facility and your only means of defense is to run and hide; under beds, inside of lockers, or tucked away in a dark corner.
Of course, not being seen at all is the best approach. Large portions of the Mount Massive Asylum are mostly cloaked in darkness and the only way to see is to use the night vision setting on your digital camcorder. Doing so quickly drains the battery, but replacements can be found atop desks and such. Navigating the dark corridors of the abandoned asylum behind a green infrared hue never ceases to remain intense and, in my opinion, serves as the game’s defining feature.
This sense of unease and terror is elevated to new heights when playing in handheld mode on the Nintendo Switch, especially with a pair of headphones on. Having Outlast on a portable console, tucked under the false security of a blanket, and cowering in fear at the sight of… well, everything, was (for lack of a better term) fucking exhilarating.
Both Outlast and its brief-yet-memorable Whistleblower chapter run great overall on the portable/home console hybrid. You’ll get 1080p when docked on the TV and 720p in handheld mode, but aside from a negligible difference in visual fidelity, their performance as a whole is about even.
I was actually worried at first, though. Within the first 30 minutes, I experienced two progression-stopping glitches. First, during the “how to hide” tutorial, the monster stalking me stood in front of the locker and wouldn’t move so I could leave. Minutes later, I found myself being chased by someone who immediately got stuck inside of the door I slammed in their face. I couldn’t open the door to leave the room and had to reload my checkpoint. I didn’t experience any other weird issues, but it certainly didn’t give off the best first impression.
Nearly five years later, Outlast continues to be one of the most memorable, terrifying, and elating horror games I’ve ever experienced. The “run and hide,” combat-free subgenre of horror isn’t for everyone and I don’t necessarily care for it myself, but there’s something about Outlast that sets it apart from the others — the undeniable terror that comes with navigating this sea of impenetrable darkness with nothing but a night vision camera.
The Nintendo Switch is steadily building a respectable horror catalog, with Resident Evil Revelations 1 & 2, Detention, Perception, Hollow, Layers of Fear, and now Outlast’s Bundle of Terror. With the sequel confirmed for an April release, I can’t recommend the duo enough — even if you’ve already played them before. The Nintendo Switch version, specifically when played in handheld mode, provided the most intense experience of them all and serves as the definitive jumping on point for Red Barrels’ atmospherically terrifying series.
We don’t use a scoring system here at Cheap Boss Attack, so hopefully you found the information above far more informative than some arbitrary number or a sequence of shaded-in star shapes.
A copy of this game was provided for review purposes.