The Outlast Trials Review – The Rich Man’s Lethal Company

Veloz Lamma

The Outlast Trials Review – The Rich Man’s Lethal Company

It’s time. The Outlast Trials has finally come out of Early Access, and we now have a different beast to address compared to how the game was before. For those who read my first impressions of The Outlast Trials, some of the issues I have with the game extend to the way the Stamina system was implemented, the repetitive nature of the game, the somewhat awful and unoriginal game design, and the way it emphasized the Rigs which exist to amplify your abilities.

I will, at least, say that several of my concerns with the game have been addressed, while others have been amplified to a ridiculous extent. Unfortunately, without talking much about my final thoughts, the things it has done for the better only helped amplify the things that drag it back for the worse. Thus, the game becomes hard to recommend to anyone, even those looking for a fun multiplayer experience.

So, what are the reasons behind this? Let’s delve deep into what The Outlast Trials does right and what it does terribly wrong.

Like I said before, The Outlast Trials has a fantastic atmosphere. The game sets the hopelessness of your situation through its environmental design. The game’s environments do remind you at times that you’re at a facility with some cardboard cutouts or mannequins that replace what would be lively human beings. Meanwhile, the human presence that you do find is either hostile toward you or completely indifferent, safely looking at your misery from behind a glass pane.

As you progress through the Trials, you conduct several “experiments” that involve clearing the name of the Murkoff Corporation. Of course, it’s not going to be something clean. Most of the trials involve you and your peers brutally murdering some individual who has dirt on Murkoff or deleting evidence of their wrongdoings. While you can collect documents showing exactly what Murkoff’s aims are, you still have to ultimately side with them.

The game concludes with what I can assume is the result of the experiment, which bridges the gap between Outlast 1 and 2. The Outlast Trials essentially tells us what the connection was between Murkoff and the cult that was running the place in Outlast 2 while also answering some questions about the upcoming aims of the corporation that would be uncovered in 2013 by Miles Upshur and Waylon Park.

Complimenting the game’s dreary atmosphere and themes is the soundtrack, which perfectly evokes the sense of dread that permeates the facility you’re trapped in. You never do feel safe, even in the quieter moments, thanks to the tinges of music and atmospheric sounds that surround you, successfully making you feel paranoid about whether an enemy is around the corner.

Unfortunately, this is where my compliments toward this game end. The game does have many issues that make it nearly unplayable. Before that, however, I will talk about what the game addresses for the better. First of all, the upgrade system has become much more impactful than before, with some upgrades giving you better ways to deal with the perils of the trials. Additionally, enemies can lose track of you much better than before.

Rigs have also become more useful… Selectively. The X-Ray and Stun rigs got the better treatment of them all. The X-Ray especially has become very overpowered as it has an obscenely short cooldown and high utility. The thing now lets you see through walls, see enemies, and recharge your night vision battery at a very short recharge time.

Meanwhile, the Stun rig has also become more of a utility rig than before. The rig also has a very short cooldown timer and it also restores your stamina. The thing manages to get you out of any awful situation you could ever come across. Get ambushed? Stun and run. Need to go down a tight corridor with an enemy? Stun. Going through a divorce? Okay, Stun can’t fix that, but it’ll keep your ex from leaving the house.

Finally, the game added a chess minigame that you can play with other players in the main hub of The Outlast Trials. That has been the most entertaining time I’ve had with my peers while playing it. I’m pretty sure the readers will notice how bad the game’s issues are when I am found complimenting the minigames that can be found in the main hub.

Let’s not beat around the bush. The Outlast Trials has tuned a lot of things, but some others have had their issues accentuated. The Stamina system still sucks because you’re very prone to run out of it quickly, even with upgrades, and there’s no easy way to recover it, especially if you’re running off-meta rigs.

Speaking of rigs, the buffs to the Stun and X-Ray rigs have essentially made the Healing and Smoke rigs irrelevant. The Healing rig especially got nerfed to the ground, and it pretty much became a pathetic version of the Stun rig that just so happens to heal HP (but the game’s objectives don’t want you to get hit anyway, so if you need the Healing rig you’ll end up punished anyway).

Enemies have been tuned to lose track of you much easier than before. However, they still can very easily re-find you through collision and what I could very easily describe as “them having sonars for eyes” as they can sometimes manage to see you through the darkness or even through walls. Again, in a game where the main objective is to not take damage, you’ll more often than not find yourself annoyingly having to run away from the objective more than once just to lose the enemies.

The Outlast Trials also has this awful issue of over-relying on shock value. It tries so hard to get you to wince and terrify you with its gore and other kinds of shocking imagery that it goes from being uncanny to boring and, at times, rather hilarious. Ultimately, I couldn’t take the game seriously because its idea of horror is having you see Five Nights at Freddy’s jumpscares a hundred times before entering a level.

Now, none of these issues would be that relevant if the game was at least fun to play. It is not. The upgrade process demands that you play levels ad infinitum, which is completely unintuitive for a horror game. The enemy design is probably even worse than how Helldivers 2 has it because while that game is tough but challenging, this one is just extremely reliant on placing every stack against the players for daring to pick an off-meta build.

My friends and I couldn’t digest this game and its content cycle more than once. We all had just enough patience to get to the Final Trial to liberate our characters and get the game’s ending. However, only two of us had enough patience to finish the Final Trial, while the third one just uninstalled the game after an enemy saw him through a wall and killed him.

This issue only gets accentuated by the fact that the game doesn’t offer anything new for players who have beaten the game and instead has players course through the same objectives but with different modifiers that somewhat alter the experience to make it more difficult. While that’s fine for people who have reached the endgame and want to have a harder experience, it still demands a lot of patience and commitment from players to get to that point.

Speaking of the lack of variety, the game’s enemies and level design are not original either. As I mentioned, The Outlast Trials has this issue where the objectives are repeated throughout different environments, and the new stages are essentially just the same type of objective with bigger enclosures… This isn’t helped by the fact that the enemy variety is also pretty lacking, with only one enemy that is different from the rest in the way that he uses night vision goggles compared to every other enemy who relies on the light to find you.

I could be here describing the many issues that The Outlast Trials has all day: the fact that it has paid DLC on top of the initial asking cost, the pathetic Final Trial, which has you running through the tutorial stage in reverse while being chased by interchangeable enemies, the awful cosmetics that are either recolors of pre-existing assets or just awful costumes that make The Finals’ cosmetics blush, or the way the game grades you based on “performance” when in reality it just rewards you for spamming the X-Ray rig.

However, I think the best way to say my piece about this game is by recommending the game in the subtitle. Lethal Company offers the atmosphere, enemy variety, and proper stage design at a much lower cost and with a more fun and engaging experience for multiple players. I often returned to Lethal Company to forget about The Outlast Trials.

It’s frustrating because Outlast is still a horror franchise with so much potential that Red Barrels fails to deliver. I am frankly getting tired of seeing the team continue to fumble the bag on what could be a more engaging experience for every horror fan out there. Unfortunately, it is what it is, and we’ll just have to see whether the developers learn from this and either improve the game that’s currently out or use the experience to make better games in the future.

Reviewed on PC (code provided by the publisher).

Products mentioned in this post

4

Wccftech Rating

The Outlast Trials

The Outlast Trials

While The Outlast Trials is a game that can be completed, it has many issues that currently keep it from being a fun experience. The game is very repetitive and cumbersome while the balance that it has is all over the place. Unfortunately, these issues seem to be only fixable with a lot of reworks and massive patches. Even then, it still won’t address the boring gameplay loop and the lack of actual challenge outside of modifiers that only exist to make the game even more frustrating. This is a game that only hardcore Outlast fans can be invested on and thus, it is hard to recommend.

Pros
  • Decent atmosphere
  • A very fun variety of minigames at the waiting hub
  • Some rigs are very powerful against the enemies
Cons
  • Lacking enemy variety
  • Extremely awful and boring gameplay loop
  • Over-reliance on shock horror to a laughable extent
  • Enemies can somehow see you through walls
  • Useful HUD information is hidden by default
  • Some rigs are downright useless

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