PAX East's Indie Megabooth is home to many excellent titles this year, but it can be hard to figure out which games to play among so many booths. After seeing some buzz on Twitter about a game called Outlast, I decided to go in blind and see what people were talking about. I walked into a dark booth to play the PC game without knowing anything but the title, and I spent the next fifteen minutes genuinely terrified.
You play as Miles Upshur, a reporter who travels to the abandoned Mount Massive Asylum to work on a story. He's heard tips that a company called the Murkoff Corporation has re-opened the facility, but their work there is unclear.
I was first tasked to make my way inside the asylum itself, as the front door is locked. Managing to hop along some scaffolding and crawl in through a window, I eventually found myself inside a dark second story room. Pitch black, I had to use the night vision on my camera's viewfinder to make my way to the door.
It doesn't take long to realize that there are terrible things happening in this building. Dead bodies lay slumped in chairs, a bloody corpse leans against a bathroom wall underneath a shattered mirror, and bugs crawl all over the soiled floor. Outlast's creepy atmosphere had already unnerved me by the time I opened a door and a headless corpse swung down from the ceiling. It was met with a startling sound effect and music cue, and I genuinely had to struggle to not yell out loud.
Moving past the hanging body, I brought my camera back up to help me see. Directly in front of me was a barely-alive man, impaled on a giant spike. Behind him were roughly a dozen severed heads sitting on shelves. The man mumbled something to me about not being able to stop "them" before he died.
Opening the next door, I found myself on a mezzanine overlooking the building's well-lit lobby. I thought I saw something move in the corner of my eye, so I went over to a door to investigate. Suddenly, a humanoid monster burst through the door, grabbed me, and threw me through a window to the lobby below.
Upon waking up, a bald man hunched over me and began to talk about how I had "a calling." I passed out again and woke up in what appeared to be a basement. Trying to find my way back up to the main floor, another monster burst through the door. Your character isn't a fighter by any means, so I was forced to turn and run. I found a locker and stored myself in it, terrified that I'd see the monster's face pop up at any time.
He passed me, and I sprinted past him in an attempt to reach safety. I thought I was safe after jumping into an air duct, but I was greeted at the end with the reappearance of the creature. In a scripted moment to end the demo, he grabbed me and tore my head off. As he held it up above his head, I could still see in first person at my torso falling to the ground.
This game seems like it will utilize plenty of jump scares, but they absolutely worked during my time with the demo. In a manner similar to Amnesia, the fear is much more focused on surviving and hiding rather than confronting the creatures. Its atmosphere and scripted scares did a fantastic job of making me legitimately rattled, and it should be perfect for some late night gaming sessions in the dark when it releases this summer.