We are so close to the end… I can taste the freedom and the absence of outdated and invasive psychiatric treatment. It’s just me and my partner and some random guy who’s been brought in for a chaotic and painful multiplayer horror experience.
We have a task: to put a prisoner in the electric chair and smoke him before he can spread company secrets. It’s been a long, arduous journey to this point, with patients chasing us through the abandoned facility, riddled with electrified traps and locked doors.
I open one of the last doors and find myself face to face with a human. Bloodied and angry looking, he is holding a knife too big for him. I have a feeling it’s going to be a problem. My team spreads out running like mad, each of us in turn pursued by the jolly psycho, who proves to be moving terribly fast, as we try to push the prisoner to his destination.
We rush through the double doors and into what looks like the room where Frankenstein spent his childhood, filled with electrical equipment, anatomy diagrams, and broken floor tiles. The electric chair stands in the middle of this dark and dusty abandoned room, with four switches surrounding it on all sides. It is quite clear what we have to do. While one of us guides the prisoner to the chair, the other two desperately try to distract the pissed off guy from the knife so he doesn’t mess up our final job.
But then we realize: there are three of us and there are four switches. The angry knife guy is part of the team now, but as he chases me around the dingy little execution room, foaming at the mouth, I get the feeling he won’t be too willing to help. What do we do? Should we put two people between the switches, turning them on while someone distracts the killer? No. Instead, we let fear and panic and chaos take over and the three of us run screaming across the room, flipping switches at random while ducking and dodging machete blows. Yes, it took us a ridiculous amount of time to flip all four switches, and I may have gotten two years old in one fell swoop, but in the end we sent the prisoner back to his creator, and honestly, that alone makes The Outlast Trials the horror experience. Funniest multiplayer I’ve experienced all year.
Outlast Trials may not be complex or groundbreaking (putting players in a spooky space filled with terrifying enemies and having them perform simple tasks is nothing new), but that’s why it works so well. Rather than go for something never seen before, developer Red Barrels combines what made the Outlast series so much fun with the best of multiplayer horror games.
There’s still the gritty, bloody horror, with gruesome enemies that love to chase you down dilapidated corridors, but now you can run away from them with friends. Instead of the company turning off scares, The Outlast Trials is scary because you have to trust your teammates. Trusting people is the real horror of this game. To survive the trials, you have to coordinate, even when terrified.
Get me off this train!
I may have only played The Outlast Trials beta, but the scares it has given me in its short duration are more than enough to make it my favorite game of 2022. It’s also my most anticipated game for next year, because I can’t wait to see what other horrors will hunt me down in the final game. But I can’t say yet if it’s going to be my favorite game of 2023, because some of the best titles I’ve played this year were ones I didn’t know anything about when I got into them. Without expectations I cannot be disappointed.
So while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed The Outlast Trials beta and am very excited about what’s to come in 2023, I’ll try to control my urge to be chased by a deranged armed guy in a haunting abandoned facility again.
The Outlast Trials is the best multiplayer horror game I’ve played this year