Platform: PC, PlayStation 4 (reviewed)
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Hours Played: 2 hours
Favorite Part: Running from the prospect of marriage. Seriously.
A few months back, Outlast was a “free” PS+ game for PlayStation 4. Having played it with a group of friends and being collectively freaked out, I decided that the DLC was worth a purchase based on the merits of the main game alone.
In Outlast: Whistleblower, you play as Waylon Park, an employee of the Murkoff Corporation. If you played the main story (which you should if you plan on getting this), then you’ll instantly recognize the setting.
The story of both the main game and the DLC revolve around Mount Massive Asylum, where the Murkoff Corporation is supposed to be caring for people with mental illnesses. Instead, the company is using the facility to perform highly unethical experiments.
Within the first few minutes of Outlast: Whistleblower, you find out that Waylon is the whistleblower who alerts Miles (the protagonist of the main game) to the obscene happenings at Mount Massive. Things quickly go downhill for Waylon when he’s discovered sending the email that reveals the horrific experiments being performed on the wards there. The situation rapidly deteriorates once the patients (now more insane and sporting superhuman strength) are freed by a mysterious force named “The Walrider.”
As in the regular game, you are unable to combat the horrors you encounter and your options are to either run or hide. Your only leg up is a camcorder with a night vision filter and the fact that you aren’t completely insane. The camcorder drains its battery when night vision is used, but you find additional batteries throughout the game as you explore new areas – assuming you’re brave enough to open random doors in a dark corridor filled with juiced-up crazies.
In practice, the enemy AI is consistently stupid. I felt that this actually adds to the experience, as the majority of the enemies are psychopathic lunatics. Hiding under a bed or in a locker will save you as long as the enemy doesn’t see you enter. The baddie will pace about the room, mutter some deranged phrase (“You were here, weren’t you? Little pig. I’ll find all of you whores.”), check an adjacent locker or bed, and then leave. If they catch you or witness you going into a hiding spot, they will pull you out and ceremoniously murder your face in half.
You may not think seems too creepy, but when you’re almost out of battery power, looking for a way to progress, there is a certain aura of fear permeating the experience.
Of course, Outlast: Whistleblower also has its share of surprise scares. While not too frequent, they’re generally well done and don’t seem cheesy. There is also an ever-present sense of anxiety. Between scavenging for batteries and avoiding mutilation, constant audio, visual, and false cues make you question your own sanity.
The most horrifying portions of the game are when you’re being stalked by certain extra-freaky enemies. One of which – whom I have lovingly dubbed “Krieg” – carries a handheld buzzsaw and is determined to eat your face. Another wants to marry you (yup!). If marriage scares you in the traditional sense, this brings it to an entirely different level.
Outlast: Whistleblower doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to gratuitous gore or horrible acts of human violence, and if you play it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Avoiding spoilers, there is an incredibly disturbing scene that will give even the most seasoned horror vets the chills, causing lesser players to curl up in the fetal position (I did the latter).
As in the base game, you’ll find optional collectibles in the form of classified documents. These documents are generally a page or two long, detailing the true inhumanity of the Murkoff Corporation. Some of these files explain the types of experiments performed on the patients. Terms like “morphogenic engine” are thrown around, along with references to formerly classified government projects, such as MKULTRA.
Perhaps more disturbing than the actual experiments are the emails sent back and forth between Murkoff executives, outlining the lengths the corporation went to in order to prevent employees from contacting their family or the outside world. I enjoyed unraveling the story through these files, as well as the commentary Waylon would write in his notebook.
Outlast: Whistleblower runs very well on the PS4, and while the initial boot time is a bit long, there are very few loading screens once the game gets rolling. I didn’t notice any screen tearing, frame drops, or bugs during my playthrough. The game stands up well graphically to other current-gen entries, but probably won’t make your jaw drop. Although some of the areas are interesting and atmospheric, many others are very bland and repetitive. It’s a pretty odd dichotomy, but nothing worth passing the game over.
Great DLC and a New Perspective – Buy It!
Outlast: Whistleblower is a great add-on that offers a new perspective of one heck of a twisted tale, wrapping up the story and providing more insight into the events that transpired at Mount Massive.
Considering the base game was free with PS+, this is a great way to support an up-and-coming studio. Of course, even if you missed the base game, it’s only $19.99, and another $8.99 for the DLC – totally worth it.