Underneath the blood-stained floors of Outlast‘s Mount Massive Asylum, a dark secret lays in waiting. It awaited freelance journalist Miles Upshur in the game’s main campaign, but the full story wasn’t presented within that timeline. As such, developer Red Barrels has thankfully chosen to expand upon things through the release of the game’s Whistleblower expansion.
Serving a dual-purpose, as both a prequel and a way to conclude the game’s unsettling storyline, Whistleblower is an interesting animal. That’s especially true because it does both things well, making its nine-dollar price tag easy to digest.
This time around, we assume the role of Waylon Park, a software engineer employed by the asylum’s backer, the Murkoff Corporation. He is, as expected and previously-revealed, the game’s whistle-blowing source, whose anonymous email set things into motion.
Whistleblower begins quietly but ramps up its intensity within moments, as our new protagonist is attacked just as he’s about to send his fated email. Things snowball from there, and in true Outlast fashion there’s certainly no lack of disturbing imagery, including blood, guts and inhumane experimentation. In fact, this add-on is simply more of the same, albeit with some slight changes and even more disturbing content.
The only notable changes Red Barrels made to its game’s core formula — which involved solving puzzles and finding important items, while running for one’s life and hiding whenever necessary — is a noticeable decrease in both puzzles and reasons to hide. Eliminated are the lengthy searches that previously caused us to run around in circles, in favour of a much more streamlined experience. Don’t worry, though; although things are more linear, you’ll still find yourself running for your life, while attempting to figure out where it is you need to go next. As such, Whistleblower still remains very similar to that which came before it, which is a good thing.
Waylon Park is yet another mute character, who chooses to utilize the night vision setting on a discovered camcorder to light his way. His need for batteries breeds familiarity, as does his inability to fight back against the crazies who try to kill him. In actuality, the murderous lunatics who chase his meat suit are even more deadly than Miles’ attackers, because they carry battery-powered saws and aren’t afraid to use them. Of course, there’s also a benefit to that, as the sounds that come from the saws’ revving engines can be used to one’s advantage.
From start to finish, this three gigabyte download will likely take you two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half hours to complete. I took my time with it, and got lost a couple of times, so it took me longer to complete than most. I enjoyed myself, though, so I don’t regret taking the extra time to really let things sink in and fully experience everything. This isn’t a half-assed expansion, so it deserved the effort.
Going forward, there’s really no reason to spend much time talking about Whistleblower‘s presentation, because it looks and sounds exactly the same as what Outlast‘s fans are used to. There is a bit of screen tearing, and I must note that the frame rate stuttered once, but that occurred at an auto-save point. In fact, the only real glitch that I experienced had nothing to do with how the game ran or played. Instead, it pertained to its trophies, which stopped unlocking part-way through. I earned the first trophy, but didn’t receive two other story-related ones.
Outside of its trophy glitch, Red Barrels’ Outlast Whistleblower expansion is easy to recommend. Not only does it manage to improve upon the mechanics of what was a very good game, it also does a good job of serving its dual-purposed role as both a prequel and a conclusion to said game’s unsettling storyline. For these reasons, it’s something that every Outlast fanatic should download.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game, which we were provided with.
Whistleblower is an impressive and welcomed addition to Red Barrels' Outlast canon, and is incredibly easy to recommend as a result.