As a huge fan of survival horror, it’s fair to say that anything that induces hair raising screams and plenty of scares will be something I intend to get involved in. Whilst games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill used to be the pinnacle of survival horror, recent years have seen the genre expand in a multitude of directions, with first-person becoming the go-to style for anyone wanting to create a frightening experience.
Unfortunately, that means the classic horror style of limited inventory slots, awkward camera angles and suspenseful door openings is quickly vanishing into the depths of gaming history. But there has been one series of games that have appeared over the past year that have looked to rejuvenate that classic horror tension we once so highly revered. That series is Outbreak, and with the third title now arriving I decided to check it out to see if Dead Drop Studios could bring us a worthy return to classic old school survival horror.
Having already spent time with the Outbreak series via the last entry Outbreak: The New Nightmare, and not enjoying a single moment of it due to the pure copycat nature of the game when compared to older Resident Evil titles, I have to admit I wasn’t expecting much better this time around. Fortunately, things have at least improved over that last dreadful experience and whilst the game in both the classic horror and visual aspects still feels and looks like it’s been ripped out of the older Resident Evil titles, it is beginning to feel like Outbreak is now becoming a title of its own. Don’t expect us to be shouting from the rooftops just yet though.
So, Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles changes things up from last time out, first and foremost with the introduction of Chapters this time around. At present however, only Chapter 1 is available with future chapters arriving later on which does seem a little surprising, especially given the lack of any Season Pass or even any mention of them within the achievements list.
The chapter itself isn’t overly long either, with things pretty much wrapped up within a couple of hours, however the gameplay this time is more than just picking up items, killing enemies and escaping, with players now required to figure out puzzles too; think pin codes to unlock doors and the locating of specific items needed to progress to the next area. It’s hardly ground-breaking or original, but it’s still an improvement over the last game by a long shot, and gives more of a nod to the original classic horror genre we all know and love.
Other improvements this time around can be found within the visuals and overall mechanics of the game. From enemies, character movement, lighting, weapons and item locations, everything is much better. There are also realistic shadows caused by the lighting, and a gritty feel to each location of the mansion, with enemies no longer feeling quite so rigid in movement either.
One thing that does prove rather enticing is the inventory management. Whilst the inventory has quite clearly been ripped out of Resident Evil, the need to manage your limited slots to make way for various keys, floppy discs, bullets and healing items is a good one that is very much appreciated.
Unfortunately, despite the positives there are still many areas that could do with a bit more work. For example, enemy variety within the game is fairly limited, and whilst it’s great to see the classic zombie take centre stage, it would be nice to see some different types begin to pose a risk to the player. Even the non-traditional zombie enemies aren’t much to worry about, with enough bullets putting away any enemy fairly quickly.
Another positive that Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles now has over its predecessors is found in the camera angles. As a keen fan of traditional horror gaming, angled cameras are something that I tend to enjoy, and this time around the developer has certainly cracked the feeling of tension with some well placed camera shots that can often make you feel a false sense of security before a new threat comes shambling along.
Whilst the first chapter doesn’t take too long to put to bed, there is at least another mode on offer, and with no word on when or if the future chapters will definitely arrive, it’s good to see there is at least something else on offer for players to get stuck into.
I’m talking about Battle Mode, and here players are placed within the starting room of the mansion with all doors unlocked and only one objective in mind – escape! The catch however is that to proceed, every enemy must be dispatched, and should you fall to an unfortunate attack, then you’ll be sent all the way back to the start once more. It’s not the most in-depth mode we’ve ever seen, but it’s one I certainly enjoyed, even if it does start to wear thin after the first couple of attempts.
Outbreak: The New Nightmare is a vast improvement over the previous entries in the series and has managed to finally bring a classic horror feeling that isn’t a pure Resi Evil copy. But that said, there is still a fair way to go before we see anything worth shouting about, and with just one chapter available, and a second mode that doesn’t have the legs to last, it’s hard to see how many will find Outbreak: The New Nightmare a game worth bothering with. If you’re a fan of classic horror then this may well be something for you to check out, but if you’re looking for a memorable experience, you’re best off sticking with the classic Resi experience.