I played Outlast when it first dropped on the PS4, and I mostly loved it. I grew frustrated with certain sections and the struggle to find the critical path through them, but overall, it was a blast. It’s been years, so Outlast dropping on the Switch seemed like a perfect opportunity to revisit the horror classic.
First things first: the Switch port is pretty great! It’s not sixty frames per second, rather a consistent thirty, and in addition, while not dramatic, there have been graphical modifications to make sure things run well both handheld and docked. Handheld runs at a native 720p, while docked runs at 1008p, which is apparently for ease of scaling from 720, and the game looks great in motion. Side by side with the PS4, and certainly the PC, outside of the PCs lovely sixty frames per second, likely you’d notice some differences, but nothing extreme. Once you throw on some headphones and dive into the world of Outlast, you won’t care because you’ll be too worried about keeping your shorts clean.
As for whether the game holds up, it certainly does. Even after playing Alien: Isolation which brought AAA production values to the run and hide horror genre and Resident Evil 7 which showed you can find a comfortable middle ground between classic survival style and combat (as well as proving first person can work very well and still feel like a classic Resident Evil experience), Outlast still brings the scares. It’s overly eager, like a haunted fun house ride or House of 1000 Corpses, going for the jump scare and the giddy-to-cross-taste-lines rather than disturb in any kind of thoughtful way, but like those rides and Zombie’s film, it’s fun as hell and effective. Where it still falls flat is in some of the writing, particularly the journals of the player character, a and the trial and error nature of the run and hide gameplay. The writing never truly feels like something someone stuck in this horrific situation would write and more like an excerpt from a bad horror novel. The trial and error still grates. When everything gels, when the environments give you ideas about where you’re supposed to go and what you’re supposed to do and the AI performs as it should, it all works a kind of horrific magic – running, jumping, hiding, while monsters chase and yell. When it doesn’t work, you either find yourself repeating a section over and over because you don’t know where you’re supposed to go, or the AI glitches out and monsters get stuck on the edges of things or in tight loops. One thing I’m certainly tired of is that loud musical death sting – yes, I died a lot.
Outlast was great when it launched, and it’s great now. The main campaign is still a chilling, disturbing ride, and the Whistleblower DLC perfects the formula. If you haven’t played Outlast yet, the Switch is a great way to visit Mount Massive Asylum.