This game will scare the shit out of you

Local game studio Red Barrels makes its debut tomorrow with Outlast, a game full of tension and fear.


Montreal’s Red Barrels might have an interesting problem on their hands.

The indie studio’s debut game, the tense, first-person fright-fest Outlast, looks astonishingly good for a downloadable title made by a small team — almost too good, it would seem.

“Sometimes when I’m reading forums on the game, I get the impression that some people don’t realize Outlast was made by a team of only 10,” says Red Barrels co-founder Philippe Morin. This misconception could actually be troublesome if players pick up the game expecting the same breadth of options as they would get from a AAA blockbuster. “We’re a little scared of that,” he says. “But we’re hoping the experience will be effective enough so that players will be able to appreciate the emotional ride no matter what.”

Fortunately for the Old Montreal-based studio, which began in early 2011 as a three-person team (made up of local industry vets) before increasing to 10 after over a year of development, the manpower and budgetary restrictions forced them to strip down their horror game to the basics. Outlast is singularly focused on creating tension, and it’s more frightening for it.

Instead of giving players a multitude of weapons, skills and scenarios, the only effective option for escaping the crazies is to run and hide. “It might remind people of when they played hide-and-seek as kids,” says Morin. “We all have experience working on games with guns and swords, and it was a nice change to create a game where you’re defenceless against your enemies. You’ll have to analyze the environments, figure out where you can flank an enemy and look for potential hiding places for when you’re being chased.”

Another way Outlast promises to make your palms sweaty is by lacking much explanation from the onset. Players assume control of a journalist, armed with only a camcorder, who’s trapped in Mount Massive Asylum — a crazy house in Colorado where ex-Nazi scientists performed Project MKUltra mind control experiments. If players simply want to escape the asylum in one piece, they can race through the game, but if they want to uncover the dirty secrets within Mount Massive’s walls, there will be plenty of rooms to explore and documents to inspect.

“We wanted to build an experience with varied pacing, always having the player be on edge and not knowing what will happen next,” explains Morin. “That means having sections without enemies, but the tension will still be there. It’s the same with the enemies, too — you can’t put players in a position where there’s a pattern to figure out, because then the immersion will be broken and it won’t be scary anymore.” ■

Outlast will be available on Sept. 4 for Steam. Click here for more information.

Leave a Reply