Tag Archives: Silent Hill 3

Running out of batteries is Outlast’s darkest horror

Outlast is most certainly and without a doubt not a game for me, but at least it was only a couple hours long and a “freebie” from Xbox One’s Games With Gold program several months back. I have one more Achievement I’d like to pop, which is thankfully right at the beginning of the game before everything is plunged into murky darkness, and then I’ll be waving goodbye to this sliver of nightmare meat from my console with boyish glee. Unfortunately, I still have a couple of other horror games in my various collections left to tackle, such as Layers of Fear, Anna, and Siren: Blood Curse, and I’m just the worst at these. Y’all remember when I promised to play Silent Hill 3 two years ago? No? Okay, good. Well, we’ll see if I can, ahem, outlast a few more.

So, moving right along to Outlast‘s plot. Freelance investigative journalist Miles Upshur is off to the Mount Massive Asylum, a private psychiatric hospital, after receiving an anonymous tip about inhumane experiments being conducted there. Because of course. Still, once there, Miles is shocked to discover the hospital’s halls destroyed and brimming with the mutilated corpses of the staff. A dying SWAT officer reveals that the asylum’s patients, known as “variants,” have escaped and are freely roaming the grounds, butchering employees left and right without mercy. Alas, Miles is unable to leave the way he came in and, besides looking for a new way out, soon finds himself deep in the mix as he comes face to face with those that roam this madhouse. It’s a somewhat straightforward story with loose details that won’t surprise you once you see what it is doing, and that’s okay. I saw that second season of American Horror Story and have enough unique and terrible images in my head to last a lifetime.

Gameplay is broken down into several distinct elements: exploration, platforming, chase sequences, and stealth. There are a few cutscenes to watch as well, but don’t expect much out of Miles Upshur other than labored breathing, as the man is nothing more than a vessel for the player, a host to see these horrific things through and breathe a sigh of relief when push comes to shove and events take a turn for the even worse. I enjoyed exploration the most, and really enjoyed it at the very beginning and end of Outlast, in the most well-lit areas of the asylum where you don’t have to bother with the video camera, and disliked all things related to chase sequences. Early on, you learn a move that allows you to run forward and then also quickly glance over your shoulder; I never used it. I hated being chased in Super Mario 3D Land, most likely would hate it in real life, and did not enjoy the pursuits here. Too stressful. Puzzles revolve around finding valves to turn or levers to pull or a specific key, and they aren’t about figuring out how to do these actions, but rather getting to them alive by sneaking around in the dark and avoiding violent asylum patients. The platforming, while not the greatest considering this is first-person platforming we’re talking about, is infrequent enough to not be a bother though I still missed a number of easy jumps.

I think I played the first five or ten minutes of Amnesia: The Dark Descent many moons ago and knew then that it was too terrifying for my weak skin to handle. Outlast is pretty similar, with a focus on carrying around a light source (lantern versus video camera with night vision mode on), being in first person, and a lack of combat, but also completely different. Whereas the former seemed to go for quieter scares and ramping up the tension, Outlast brings out all the big guns, with swelling music, screaming, jump scares galore, and a large monstrosity to chase after you down dark halls where you have to both run and create roadblocks in the manner of shut doors and barricades. There are, of course, occasions where things are quiet and uneventful, which is unnerving, but I quickly learned to not trust these sequences for too long. Eventually something’s going to grab you.

All right, lastly, or rather outlastly, there are some more things that I’m just not a fan of and found severely off-putting because I’m in a complainy mood, but your mileage may vary. A large portion of Outlast boils down to basically managing the number of batteries you have and when and where to turn on the camcorder. They drain quickly, and though I never did run out of them entirely during my playthrough, I always felt like I was close and preferred to have more in my inventory than not, just in case I needed them. This stressed me out greatly. For collectibles, there are two types–notes and documents–with notes referring to handwritten notes by Miles after witnessing something, and documents being, well, printed papers of exposition left behind for players to find. They aren’t all that interesting to read, and, more annoyingly, when you get a new one, it appears at the bottom of the collected list, which means as you collect more and more, it takes longer and longer to scroll down and read the one you just unlocked. Lastly, because I’m a wuss and scared of the dark, I spent probably something like 85% of this game behind the camcorder’s lens with night vision mode on; I’m sure Outlast looks sharp and amazing in spots, but all I ever saw was grainy blurs of faded neon-green and blinding puffs of white light.

Outlast isn’t fun. It’s kind of designed that way, but maybe a special type of person exists somewhere on this batty planet that looks at all these cruel limitations and unfriendly setting and thinks, “Aw yiss!” The developer’s main goal is to fill you with fear, and the player’s main goal is to escape scare-free. I’d rather live safely on my Stardew Valley farm with Maru and our first child Mauly, tending to my crops and searching for those rare starfruit and upgrading my tools. I’ll never run out of batteries there because, thanks to my lightning rod, I get a freebie every time there’s a thunderstorm. Take that.

Advertisements

Grinding Down’s new year gaming resolutions for 2015

gd new year gaming resolutions

I’m strange. Sometimes I like to openly talk about a challenge or new goal, such as when I decided to draw 365 bad comics over the course of an entire year, while other endeavors are handled more privately without anyone being the wiser. In fact, I’ve already started on a few over the last several months, and some of those plans will never be brought to light. I’m okay with that. I’m the shyest man yearning for recognition, afraid to be recognized. Again, I’m strange.

As far as I’ve seen over the last few days, game resolutions generally boil down to the same idea: play that game. Whether I do or not is the real challenge, and I’ve had some ups and downs over the last few years when it came to this, but I’m willing to put it out there again, a list of games I own, want to play, and then put away (in my mind).

In 2013, I wanted to beat five specific games I had previously played but never saw credits roll. I ended up beating three of the five, and though my math skills leave a lot to desire, I thought that was pretty good, especially when you consider that Chrono Cross is no short romp through an alternate dimension.

For 2014, I naturally wanted to beat those other two names I missed out on, but that never happened. Then I started playing Suikoden and Suikoden II, with the (laughable) idea I’d get through the rest of the series in short order now that I own all of them. Well, all except for Suikoden Tierkreis. Cue wet fart sound effect? I also had illusions of grandeur for the Metal Gear series, completing the first five games, with plenty more to go. Not “swings and a miss,” but more like “swings and good job, you’re on second base,” now waiting for another player to hit you home. I’ll get through both series in due time, hopefully before Gameageddon actually happens.

With that, here are my gaming resolutions for two thousand fifteen (that’s how all the cool kids are writing it this year). Trumpet blast a-hoy:

1. Stay one step ahead of Giant Bomb for its Metal Gear Scanlon feature. That means I’m not rushing through Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater just yet, which is also the last of the bunch that I’ve actually played. Peace Walker, Guns of the Patriots, and Ground Zeroes will be totally new experiences to me, and I’m looking forward to them greatly, but I don’t want to burn out either on too much too fast. I enjoy watching Dan and Drew react to the wackiness that is Hideo Kojima’s mindset, but only after I’ve swallowed the crazy sugar first.

2. Since I didn’t get to them in 2013 or last year–double shame on me!–both Final Fantasy IX and Radiant Historia are first on the list of must-see-all-the-way-through items. I really don’t want to arrive into 2016 knowing those cute, cuddly critters are still clawing at my ankles, desperate for attention.

3. Silent Hill 3. There, I said it. Or rather, I wrote it. Even though I’m still not over my harrowing time with Silent Hill 2, I must persevere. I’m not ready to explore why.

4. Come up with another new feature at Grinding Down for the year. Games I Regret Parting With seems to be a big fav, but I’ll eventually run out of those to dissect. I used to do Achievements of the Week and Half-hour Hitbox, but those lost steam after awhile, mostly because I lost steam. If you have any ideas or niches you’d like to see my cover, y’know, other than all these unheard of freeware joints or obscure point-and-click adventure games, let me know. I’m interested if you’re interested.

5. Get proper equipment like a microphone and learn how to stream better in preparation for  the next Extra Life event. I want to do it again and have friends over and raise lots of money for those that need it more than me. I’m even hoping to hold out on several games still in hopes of playing them live that during those twenty-four hours.

All right, we’ll stop there. Resolutions are tricky because you can just keep stacking them, and like I said, for gaming stuff, it often ends up being a list of games you want to play. I have too many to even start counting, and most of them are long, lengthy JRPGs, like Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny and Xenosaga. Cue mad scientist laugh? Yeah, cue it hard.

What are some of your new year’s resolutions, gaming-related or not?