Outlast draws inspiration from Amnesia, blends stealth and horror

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David Hinkle
October 31, 2012 4:30 PM
Outlast draws inspiration from Amnesia, blends stealth and horror

Red Barrels is an entirely new studio hard at work on its first game, Outlast. So far we've only seen a brief teaser, suggesting a spooky setting in a derelict asylum full of deranged individuals. Today we get an extended glimpse at Outlast courtesy of the video above.

Outlast is a first-person horror game built in Unreal, with some survival-horror mixed in with exploratory elements, chase sequences and some action segments. When I asked Red Barrels co-founders Philippe Morin and David Chateauneuf for a bit more specificity, they told me that Outlast will focus on stealth – and that it is influenced in some part by Amnesia.

"The thing we're taking from Amnesia – which, by the way, we liked a lot – is the run and hide," Morin told me. "So the core of the game is pretty much like a stealth game, so you have to avoid enemies, hide from enemies and run away from enemies. But the action comes into play when you have to run from them, so this is where we are using our experience making games like Prince of Persia and Assassin's Creed. To try and make the chases as exciting as possible."

Outlast will aim to convey horror by making players powerless, amping up the feel of the danger throughout the game. "That's the thing about survival horror: if you're empowered, then the threat is not as big," Morin said. "You feel you have to be proactive to fight back. But if you know there is no way you can fight back, then that's when I think the horror is most effective. Although in the trailer we're showing a bit of struggle, that's going to be a small part of the game. Most of the time – again, this is probably one of the things we're taking from Amnesia – there is no combat. You have to avoid these enemies attacking you because otherwise you're going to die pretty quickly." Morin thinks that compromise in this approach leads you right back to the action genre. "You then don't feel the horror as much."

Funding for Outlast was in part thanks to a grant from the Canadian government, and the Canada Media Fund in particular. But the remainder of the required resources came from the developers' own pockets and from their families. "We're pretty much all in with this," Morin said.

As far as publishers go, Red Barrels isn't actively seeking any entity out – it currently has a distribution agreement in place with Valve to spread Outlast on Steam. "We don't have a publisher and we're not specifically looking for one publisher. We're going to stay indie and self-publish – things may come up but so far it's been our strategy," Morin said.

When I asked the pair why they wanted to do a horror game, they said that their intent was just to scare people. "That's just really what we want to do; we want to scare the shit out of players." They had been trying to do a horror game at Ubisoft Montreal for "a long time," apparently – but they could never make it happen. In 2013, the duo will finally have the opportunity to take a stab at the horror genre with Outlast.
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