A narc. A rat. A snitch. A stool pigeon. A whistle-blower. Corporations hate them, especially when they have dark and dirty secrets to hide. We’ve seen what happened once the whistle was blown, but now thanks to Outlast: Whistleblower, we get see the story of the man who blew it.
Canadian developer Red Barrels Games pulls us back into the madness of their debut title, Outlast, with the DLC Whistleblower. The original game was one of the PS4’s earlier indie releases and was the PS+ game for February. If you haven’t played that main game yet, then stop reading right now and go play it. I’ll wait. You finished it? Good, now we can continue.
Outlast: Whistleblower acts as both a prologue to the events of the main story and as its epilogue. The game does both of these things well and takes players full-circle with the main story happening during the DLC’s timeline. Players are put in the role of Waylon Park, a hired software engineer that tips off Miles Upshur – the protagonist of the main game – about the inhumane activities that the Murkoff Corporation are conducting at the Mount Massive Asylum. As you can imagine, Park’s whistleblowing has its ramifications as he is found out and committed to the asylum’s Morphogenic Engine Program as punishment. This, however, doesn’t last long as Park soon finds himself trapped with murderous inmates running rampant.
Red Barrels Games has definitely responded to some of the quirks that were brought up during the games original release, as this bit of story seems more narrative driven and introduces several interesting (but no less creepy) characters. These new crazies include a cannibal armed with a circular saw and The Groom, who, in my opinion, is one of the most disturbing and well-written horror characters I’ve come across in a video game in a long time. While these new psychopaths make up the majority of the experience, fans will be pleased to see – and run – from a few familiar faces.
Whistleblower offers players an added perception on the story and provides more insight into who exactly the Murkoff Corporation is as an overall antagonist. The DLC puts a higher level of focus onto the pacing of the narrative which, when combined with a more absolute beginning and ending, allows Whistleblower to feel more like a story campaign and less of a corn maze experience. This is furthered by its noticeable decrease in puzzles and time spent hiding. Although, even though it feels like things are more linear, you’ll still be running for your life, while trying to find where it is you need to go next.
From a gameplay perspective, Whistleblower still remains very similar to its predecessor, which isn’t entirely a bad thing. Like before, combat is not possible leaving you with only two choices; run and hide or die. Players can hide in lockers and under beds but beware because the more intelligent enemies can and will look in these areas to find for you. You are also able to look back while running, close doors in order to obstruct enemies, and squeeze through small spaces to get out of their reach. The first thing I noticed as I started my play-through was how Park closed doors. Park takes the time to close doors quietly as opposed to Upshur, who slammed every door closed, even when he was trying to be stealthy. This small alteration was a much welcomed change.
Your only item is still a camcorder with its night vision guiding you through the dark areas. Batteries are a must and seem to be in shorter supply than they were previously, which is nice as I never felt like I was in dire need of them while playing the main story. In fact, at one point I couldn’t collect any more as my inventory was already full. The batteries in Whistleblower also appear to drain a lot faster than they use to, thus increasing the experience. At times, you may feel like you’re wasting battery life because you’re scrounging around looking for more so you don’t end up lost in the dark.
Layout-wise, the game could be considered as the main story in reverse with some new locations to explore. The cycling between the two was done so well that I almost didn’t notice that I had been to a certain spot before. The feeling of nostalgia came rushing back once I did. The only downside for me was that the load times when you transition between areas still takes away from some of the tension. The atmosphere remains as top notch as it had before. Like Outlast, Whistleblower brilliantly uses sound to help shape the player’s mental state. Each sound guides you to the point where even the slightest thing, whether in-game or in your own room, can make your heart race.
The visuals got a nice addition of some fog effects that adds to the overall vibe. I found that it caused me to rely less on my night vision, as the reflection would make it just as hard to see as it would have been in the dark. I had to hope that nothing was waiting for me as I turned the corner. There was also no lack of disturbing imagery. In fact, Whistleblower seemed to have even more disturbing content – with this reviewer peeking through his fingers at one particular scene.
Final verdict, Outlast: Whistleblower should only take you about two to three-and-a-half hours to complete; depending on how much exploring you do. The game didn’t feel as though it had been rushed, so I took my time in order to really soak in the experience. Outlast: Whistleblower keeps to the formula that has already been proven to work and continues to be as atmospheric and disturbing as before; leaving me wanting more.
Recommended for fans of: Amnesia, Condemned, Outlast (main story), and survival-horror.
Brandon Ledbetter is a Graduate student at Arizona State University who would rather spend his days gaming than doing class work. When not hitting the books, he’s either listening to EDM, playing an RPG, or thinking up new characters for a novella that he hopes to one day write. You can find him on both Xbox Live and PSN or contact him by e-mail at email@example.com. Help him cheer on TEAM XBRO!