Outlive is a new survival horror created by Bossco Games with a number of pros and cons to review. You need to get out if you are stuck in a facility riddled with mutated monsters. You can only run or hide with only your camera to help you through the darkness. The game has several effective moments and some good level design, but it struggles to get out of the shadow of similar games like Outlast. It has ups and downs but was enjoyable, especially if you like sneaking around the dark with night vision to avoid danger.
Outlive is available on Steam with a planned full release date of 14th September 2023.
Story – Let’s Hide in the Monster’s Home, It’s the Last Place It’ll Look!
Outlive starts with a brief text introduction to the world. A failure at mysterious state facility in the woods has led to the waterways being contaminated. Mutations have started to spread out of control, turning people into monsters that kill what they see. The only way to survive is to flee into the woods, away from other people.
Here is where we run into the problem with the story. The protagonist’s actions don’t make sense. I suspect that they initially wanted the protagonist to be an investigative journalist or detective, however they probably didn’t want to seem too similar to Outlast. The only motivation we have for the character is to run and survive however the game contradicts this. You arrive at the facility after crashing your car. Despite a monster lurking around outside and the numerous corpses and bloodstains you decide the best move is to go further inside and document what you find. It hampers the immersion a bit as you pass up ample opportunities to just leave this incredibly dangerous place.
There are notes to be found throughout the facility which help paint a light on what happened there, but details are bit sparse to establish much lore. There is also a second problem of committing to supernatural or grounded (relatively speaking) horror. Sometimes Outlive will throw jump scares at you through ghosts and disembodied laughter. This doesn’t fit with the established narrative. I suppose there is no reason the facility can’t also be haunted, but it would make more sense if the developers committed to one or the other.
All in all, the story serves to get you into the scare maze. It’s not bad, but the inconsistencies in Outlive let it down for this review.
Gameplay – Sneak Through a Maze of Monsters
The gameplay for Outlive is where the potential of the developers shines through. It’s pretty simple and will be familiar to those who have played similar survival horrors, but that said, it is effective and getting your heart in your throat and your palms sweaty.
Much like Outlast, you are unable to fight, but have access to your wits, hiding spots and a night vision camera. Each area contains a puzzle and monster. With this gameplay loop, it comes down to how effectively the levels are designed, and here they are well made. The rooms loop back in a satisfying way, as well as having well placed monster spawns and a few strong jump scares for good measure. The core gameplay stands out for this review as one of the best elements of Outlive, with it’s effective grasp on how to scare the player and create tense moments as you scramble for a hiding spot when you hear a door open.
There are two flaws that are worth noting though. Firstly, some puzzles feel a bit repetitive. Finding three generators to turn on is pretty much as finding three valves to turn, so more variety would be nice. The second is the monster AI seems to detect you based on your line of sight, rather than the monsters. This can be frustrating as it undermines the stealth aspect to the gameplay. This may be a bug however, as otherwise the AI worked well.
Graphics and Audio – Nightvision to the Rescue!
Graphically Outlive is nothing too special. The environments, whilst not photo realistic, are good looking enough. There weren’t any breath-taking moments where the visuals shone through. The monsters are well designed and certainly creepy, however not substantially different from what we’ve seen in other horror games like Dead Space. The lighting was a touch too dark, making it a challenge to see far without night vision. This is intentional, but more lighting options would be good.
The audio was really good, other than the protagonist, with text-to-speech dialogue. There’s some great monsters noises and variation in sound, which is important for the sections when you are being stalked. There is also strong use of sound to escalate the tension, for example the knocking on the door when you know there is a monster out there. The music as well is effective, but not anything too special.
All in all, the visuals and audio are effective for what the game is going for. It’s not the prettiest game or most beautiful sounding, but each element is used well.
Outlive was played for review with a key provided by Bossco Games.