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The Outlast Trials review 3 (1)

The Outlast Trials review

We won’t lie: when the original Outlast was released it scared the pants off us. Stepping into its dark world, we didn’t know what to expect, and the horrors that ensued left a lasting impact. We thoroughly enjoyed the more ambitious Outlast 2 as well. Developer Red Barrels has been ambitious with its third game set in the Outlast universe, too, making an entry that’s made to be enjoyed with others.

The Outlast Trials, then, is a multiplayer horror game. But it’s not one of those asymmetrical types that are currently all the rage. Instead, it’s all about co-op; up to four players fighting to survive across a number of arduous trials created by the nefarious Murkoff Corporation. It might come as a disappointment for those who were looking forward to another single-player, story-focused entry in the series, but The Outlast Trials can be played alone at least. If you’re after scares, it’s perhaps the best way to do so, too.

From a treatment centre that acts as a hub, you’re free to tackle any of The Outlasts Trials’ five trials as you see fit. They each find you travelling to a themed part of the facility via tubes and, once there, you’re given a string of objectives to complete. You might have to rummage around in dead bodies strewn here and there in search of keys, for example, or get a generator working by carrying fuel to it and then tinkering with it. There are even some truly grisly acts to carry out, such as sawing a body in two with your teammates. Nice.

The Outlast Trials review 1 (1)
Image: Red Barrels

To flesh out the package, there are a duo of MK Challenges to complete in each of these areas as well, which play out much the same as standard trials but a bit shorter. Complete enough trials and MK Challenges and you unlock increasingly harder variants to test your skills. There are weekly trials to have a go at too, which introduce various mutators such as shards of glass on the ground not only making noise when walked over, but also causing damage to you.

Related: The best multiplayer horror games

The Outlast Trials certainly has a decent amount of content going for it, then, and for engaging with it you’re rewarded with credits and vouchers. The former can be used to decorate your room in the treatment centre hub to make it your own. The latter, on the other hand, can be used to purchase a wide variety of permanent upgrades and more. Needless to say, put enough time into The Outlast Trials, and while you’ll still be fearful of the horrendous evils that you encounter throughout, you’ll be in a much better position to deal with them.

It has to be said, though, that repetition does set in rather quickly. You’ll find yourself up against the same adversaries again and again, and while there is some environmental variety, what you do in them remains the same: sneak around and scavenge useful items while trying to complete objectives, and running and hiding to escape pursuers if necessary. Being able to play alongside friends and strangers adds a novel and fun twist, but it also detracts from the horror somewhat.

The Outlast Trials review
Image: Red Barrels

As mentioned earlier, playing alone is an option, and it makes completing trials and MK Challenges not only more atmospheric but also more arduous. Sometimes, playing with a full team of four, you can find yourself being carried with other members of your team successfully completing objectives without you. When on your own, success is purely down to you and you alone. The lack of a story to truly get invested in, however, might hamper your drive to play.

Ultimately, The Outlast Trials finds itself in a bit of an awkward spot. It doesn’t quite hit the mark as a single player game, though playing alone is where the true horror lies. Play it with others, and while you’re likely to have more fun, it comes at the expense of atmosphere and scares. For many though, repetition is likely to be the biggest issue with The Outlast Trials; sneaking around in the dark is only fun for so long, after all. Still, that’s not to say this experiment is a total failure — it has a lot to offer for those who do find enjoyment in its grotesque endeavors.

The Outlast Trials review – GameSpew’s score

This review of The Outlast Trials is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

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