I’m a big fan of the Outlast series (I still think Outlast II is the scariest game that I’ve ever played), so the idea of facing the horrific world with friends was definitely appealing. Come on, everything is less scary when you’ve got a friend by your side, right? Well, whilst that’s true, it actually comes to the detriment of The Outlast Trials, which works well as a multiplayer experience but loses some of the terrifying tension of the series along the way.

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The Outlast Trials sees up to four players teaming up to face challenging and dangerous scenarios based around the terrifying world of Outlast, with players taking on the role of test subjects for the Murkoff Corporation. Their goal? To condition you for total obedience through the most gruelling and twisted ways possible in order to settle you into normal civilization and act as sleeper agents for the company. If I’m being honest, the narrative didn’t hook me in quite as effectively as previous games in the series thanks to its more open-ended nature, but Murkoff Corporation’s presence ensures that it’ll still keep you invested in your dangerous plight.

At launch, there are six trials to play through, which span across the likes of a toy factory, an orphanage, a courthouse, and a fun park, with each not a ‘real life’ location but instead re-created as test chambers. They each bring with them their own narrative and objectives, whilst each also has its own unique dose of frightening personality that effectively makes them feel like their own standalone Outlast experience. They can feel almost maze-like in design thanks to the various rooms you have to explore, whilst there are PLENTY of psychopaths (who are failed test subjects) roaming around to bring your life to a swift and brutal end.

If you’ve played an Outlast game before, you’ll have a basic idea as to what you need to do. There’s an emphasis placed on sneaking around and evading the constant threats that are stalking you, whilst objectives consist of the likes of activating generators, searching for keys, and so forth in order to reach your ultimate goal. What spices things up here is the fact that item locations and locked doors are randomised each time you play, but your core objectives always remain the same.

“Believe me, there are some nasty bastards to encounter that live up to the deranged monstrosities you would have faced off against in other entries in the series.”

Oh, and of course, it wouldn’t be an Outlast game without having you get involved in some truly gruesome tasks, so expect to find yourself in PLENTY of situations that’ll leave you feeling weak in the knees…

The objectives are fun enough and encourage a good amount of teamwork, whether that’s by having one player scout your surroundings to make sure you won’t get caught by an enemy or, in most cases, act as a distraction to keep them off your tail. Yep, I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve had to keep an enemy busy whilst my teammates seek out the items we needed for objectives, and yep, I died a lot during the process. It is worth noting that you’re actually able to put up a bit of a fight against enemies now though, whether that’s by pushing them as a means to get away from them or by throwing a brick or bottle to momentarily stun them. Sure, it’s not as effective as shooting them with a gun, but it’s nice not to feel so helpless when being pursued by a psychopath.

That being said, it could often be a little bit too easy to escape their wrath – especially if you’re not focusing on an objective at the time. The only occasions that I really found myself in danger was when an enemy was lurking near an objective zone, but wandering enemies are generally easy enough to escape and hide from thanks to their predictable patrol routes and an ample number of hiding spots. There are other hazards to be wary of, but when it comes to enemies, they just didn’t feel as intimidating as in other titles in the series.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Despite this, there’s plenty of fun to be had playing The Outlast Trials, especially if you’re in with a few of your friends where you can share the scares. The unnerving tension that the series is famed for carries over nicely into the multiplayer experience, whilst the grisly objectives you’re given will genuinely make you wince when playing. And the enemies you face off against? Believe me, there are some nasty bastards to encounter that live up to the deranged monstrosities you would have faced off against in other entries in the series.

The only real worry I have is whether the game will have the longevity to keep me coming back for more, but with additional challenges to complete in levels, higher scores to strives towards, and weekly trials to complete, there’s plenty going on to keep players busy for now. You’ll also unlock buffs and gear as you progress through the game, ensuring you’ll have more success on each trial or can simply prepare yourself for the higher difficulties. And if you prefer playing solo? The game adapts itself based on the player count, so you can go at it alone if you like.

I think my main issue with The Outlast Trials is that it doesn’t always utilise the strengths of the series. There are fewer set pieces, less moments of pure terror, and the gameplay loop is a bit more predictable, which can make the frights impactful. Don’t get me wrong, all of this works from a multiplayer perspective and it’s great to be able to play through different trials that each feel like stand-alone experiences, but something has been lost in the process.

The Outlast Trials Reviews

The Outlast Trials is a fun multiplayer fright-fest that’ll keep players on the edge of their seat, but it doesn’t always play to the strengths of the Outlast series. Don’t get me wrong, it still offers a bloody scary good time, but the more predictable gameplay loop and iffy enemy AI can make the experience feel a bit tame when compared to the horrific thrills seen in the mainline titles.

But hey, with six trials to play through, plenty of challenges to conquer, and a whole host of gruesome tasks to complete, there’s plenty here to keep fans invested in The Outlast Trials’ multiplayer scares.

Developer: Red Barrels
Publisher: Red Barrels
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Website: https://redbarrelsgames.com/games/the-outlast-trials/