So. Here we are. “Outlast” was released back in 2013 but I only got to play it when it was released on PS4 earlier this year. It’s a shining example of both Survival Horror as a genre and of the fact that the genre isn’t dead, and that it doesn’t need “saving” by the likes of “The Evil Within”. Focusing on running and stealth to negotiate enemies and with a well-implemented night vision element that adds to the excellent atmosphere, it really is a great horror game. Now the anticipated DLC “Whistleblower” is upon us. Welcome back to Mount Massive, children. It’s going to be one hell of a visit.
(SPOILERS FOR OUTLAST TO FOLLOW)
Set both before, during and after the events of the main game, “Whistleblower” puts you in the bare feet of Waylon Park- a software engineer for the Murkoff Corporation working at Mount Massive Asylum. More importantly, he was the one that sent Miles Upshur the email telling him to investigate Mount Massive. Sending that email is the very first thing you do in the game, and it gets you into some serious trouble. Before then you get to see the experiments first hand, before Waylon is forcibly imprisoned as a patient, as well as being subjected to the same experiments all the variants in the main game went through (conveniently, apart from short-term visual hallucinations the engine doesn’t seem to have any negative effects on him). The patients break loose, Waylon grabs the camera used to record his reactions to the experiments and decides to get the hell out of dodge, recording as much incriminating footage as he can along the way. The set-up is good, but simple- story wise it’s pretty similar to the main game, though less rigidly paced. Whereas Miles’ route was often defined by Father Martin being an unhelpful dick, Waylon’s progress is hampered by his environment. The most interesting factor is that the outbreak has just started- you start right in the belly of the beast, and there are generally more people still alive in the various parts of the asylum, some of which are new to the DLC. You aren’t eased in this time- the game assumes you know your way around its mechanics and throws you straight into things, to great effect. It was made apparent before release that the DLC acts as both a prequel to the main game, and an epilogue, and it does indeed provide some closure to the main story. You find out Miles’ ultimate fate after he was gunned down in the main game. You find out what the Walrider did next. It’s all quite brief, but the ending does bring things to a close, and sets up something of a sequel. The best parts of the story are those taking place before and during the events of the main game, particularly the new locations and variants.
Speaking of new variants, the DLC has two. One is a cannibal who walks around in his underpants trying to find you so he can cut you up with a hand-held buzz saw and eat you raw. His persistent pursuing of Waylon very early on in the DLC was my first real tense experience in “Whistleblower”, and he fits right in with the likes of the twins and Chris Walker. Like Walker, he has a tell-tale audio cue that alerts you to his presence- the high-pitched whine of his circular saw, which he spins while searching for you. It is really rather unnerving to say the least. His introduction is also a rather inventive and effective use of gory body horror, and overall he’s a great inclusion. The far superior of the two, however, is the aptly named “The Groom”. I knew about this guy going in, but hadn’t really seen him in action. He and his section are easily the best things about the new content, and he makes all the other unique variants seem like kittens in comparison. He’s set up as some feared, murderous spider skulking around the vocational block of the prison, and when you finally enter his lair you know you’re in for a rough time- phrases scrawled on the wall about how great love is, human bodies positioned in truly grotesque ways, and the sounds of American Quartet’s “I want a girl” (which is a creepy song anyway) give you some clue as to what you’re in for . His shtick is that he’s desperately searching for a wife. Problem is, all of his potential wives are men, and therefore have a particular biological component that he’s all to eager and willing to remove. Dr Trager in the main game played the affably evil thing very well, but there’s a certain horror about the way The Groom talks and acts, as well as his macabre living space and how dire the events that take place within it are that give him the edge for me. He’s a fantastic creation, and he and Trager are pinnacles of what Red Barrels can achieve in terms of antagonists.
Gameplay wise, it’s the same as the main game- stealth is still the way forward, with a few chases thrown in for good measure. The whole thing is still very creepy, tense and beautifully (in a bleak way) atmospheric, and the night vision camera is still well implemented.
Overall, this is a great piece of DLC. The gameplay is still genuinely scary and atmospheric, the new variants are excellent, and the whole thing fits in nicely with the original game’s story. The Groom is a great horror antagonist that fits in perfectly with the universe established in the main game, and given the strength of the whole product, I’m eager to see what Red Barrels do next. If you like the main game, definitely pick this up. If you couldn’t get into it for any reason, you won’t find anything here that’ll change your mind.
By James Lambert