- Developer: Dead Drop Studios LLC
- Publisher: Dead Drop Studios LLC
- Release date: 18/05/2021
- Price: £15.99 / $19.99
- Review code provided by Dead Drop Studios LLC
Introducing: Outbreak: Endless Nightmares Review
I love a good horror game as much as the next person, but they can be a little tougher to find this time of year since October is obviously the favored time for a horror title. However, when the chance to review Outbreak: Endless Nightmares dropped into my lap, I was more than happy to jump, especially when I saw that it was a PlayStation 5 game, which are something that’s a bit in limited supply. I haven’t had the chance to pick up Resident Evil 8 yet, so this was a great chance to have another horror title to tide me over in the meantime.
Ah! A Zombie!
So, it’s not possible for me not to have a lot of respect for the creative head behind this game because it was all made by one guy. At that same time, it really shows that it was all made by one guy. There’s a lot of flaws here that I simply can’t overlook and I’m going to get it out of the way that I do not recommend this title. It’s got problems down to the core and those start with the story of the game.
Your character has been trapped in some sort of otherworld, populated by these strange unmoving spirits. There’s a zombie outbreak going on! Kind of? It’s strangely bizarre in the setup in that this otherworld you are trapped in appears to be a limbo in form of a school that slowly opens up more to you with time. It’s a place to grab a few things for your very limited inventory before hopping into a zombie infested pocket dimension. From there, you’re working to clear things up before moving on. It’s very rouge-like in its structure, so the story is pretty thin. It’s told mostly in some text boxes here and there. Part of my confusion comes from how these text boxes seem to refer very specifically to one character but then there are multiple that you can choose from in order to actually get playing the game. This is a series of games, so perhaps these are past protagonists here for play, but it’s not really made super clear. Overall, I’m just left with a lingering question of why I should care about what is going on? Even the lingering ghosts only give cryptic mumblings that often feel like they were stolen off of a fortune cookie.
The gameplay isn’t some star of the show either. It’s pretty bad. You’re given the option of regular controls or classic tank controls… both are actually tank controls, one’s just a little more loose and one is a little more strict. You’ve got first and third person options as well, but it’s still tank controls no matter what you choose. I can tell that this is meant to be an homage to older Resident Evil titles and their ilk (even having a fixed camera mode), but at the same time it just feels incredibly dated. Tank controls aren’t something that are used a lot anymore. And for good reason, in my opinion. I am sure there are people who like them, but it just leaves Outbreak feeling incredibly stiff.
For those who have never played with this control setup, it’s not going to be an easy thing to pick up and play and while I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in this type of control setup, I still found it to be clunkier than any other tank controls that I had played with. The only way that I escaped it was by playing in first person, but even then I was still locked to the tank setup for shooting where it locked center, up, or down instead of where I was really looking. The first person mode’s movement was also unbearably slow.
There’s actually a ton of different options and modes to be found here, which I will wholeheartedly commend. There’s a ton of range in the levels of hardcore you might want to play at and control and camera schemes (as long as they’re still tank). Unfortunately, I didn’t find a lot of them to be very fun since they just made an already pretty frustrating experience more difficult. I actually had more fun playing on easy mode, which just loads you up with a ton of weaponry and ammo, but I still didn’t consider it a good time. Maybe one of my largest sources of frustration was with the menu system, which could be difficult to navigate at the best of times and made the crafting the game wanted me to do a tedious chore. A small inventory besides also made things difficult as I would have to choose between weapons, ammo, and crafting materials. Normally that would be a system I was fine with, but when there were less than ten slots to keep items in, it was more of a hassle than anything else. Sure there were item boxes to work with, but the slow movement of the character meant that going back and forth to drop things off was a total slog.
I think the word that would most describe this game is that it’s unpolished. I look at it and it’s hard for me to believe that this is, from what I can tell, the sixth game in a series and yet it feels like it’s some rookie’s first build of a game jam project that ended up on consoles somehow. I know it sounds mean to say, but I just don’t think the lack of polish here is excusable when you’re charging for a game. Perhaps the biggest slap in the face is that there are separate versions for PlayStation 4 and 5. Meaning that there are supposed enhancements. I don’t see them. Heck, there’s not even controller rumble in the first place!
Blood and Guts
Looking at the screenshots provided here, I’m sure you can tell what I’m about to tell you about how the visuals of this game stack up. It looks like a PlayStation 2 game at best. The textures are strangely smooth and there are places where I feel like assets are just plain missing. For example, I might encounter these jets of fog or steam (I couldn’t really tell you which they’re meant to be) coming out of a otherwise normal wood floor. What are they coming from? Your guess is as good as mine.
The gore is decent, with pops of guts and blood coming out of the zombies, but good luck seeing it every time. Each time you fire your gun, there’s a big white flash that takes up most of the screen and it’s really distracting. I wouldn’t dare play this in a dimmed room for fear it might be murder on my eyes. I can tell it’s supposed to be a muzzle flash, but the dev must not have known how to make that come out of the actual gun so it’s just a full screen flash. I’m not saying that this might be an epilepsy trigger, but that’s something you might want to be aware of if you intend to play even after everything I’ve told you so far.
The sound effects are exceptionally repetitive and I don’t really remember any music. There was one point early on where I approached a piano that I remember very distinctly hearing Moonlight Sonata playing because it was one of the first times that I had really heard music that stood out. One google search will tell you that Moonlight Sonata is public domain. I think that public domain music can be great when used appropriately to set the tone, but it was just there to draw me to the piano to enter one of the pocket dimensions of the game so it ended up feeling more cheap than anything else.
A Singular Effort
One thing I will give props for is that I didn’t encounter any bugs in my playtime. If there were any, though, it’s more likely that they blended into the miasma of poor game design as to not stand out. Everything looked fine on my decently sized tv. But if you are playing on a smaller, lower resolution, or screen that’s a decent distance away, the font choices made here do have the potential to become more difficult to read.
I think I’ll Pass
I don’t think I have to make it more clear that this was not a game that I enjoyed. Everything about it just felt poorly implemented and I have to wonder how one gets so many games deep into a series without the games getting to a decent level of polish. I do respect that the game was made by one guy and that’s a feat, but if I had paid for this, I think I would feel pretty ripped off. I can only recommend this one for those who consider themselves connoisseurs of bad games. Everyone else should stay far away.
- Many options for modes (if you actually like it)
- The feat of being made by one person
- Visually muddy and simplistic
- Sluggish and unimpressive gameplay
- Strangely overcomplicated story
- Simply not fun to play