[Review] Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Dead Drop Studios
  • Publisher: Dead Drop Studios
  • Release Date: 05/11/2020
  • Price: £11.69 / $12.99
  • Review code provided by Dead Drop Studios

Introducing: Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles Switch Review

With Resident Evil Village on the horizon, many fans are revisiting the series in anticipation of the next installment. For many years the survival horror genre laid dormant, due to a shifted focus into an action-oriented state. Many like myself lamented how horror games began to neglect the genre’s roots. Thankfully, they’ve started to dial back into the “survival” aspect again in recent years. However, with that resurgence comes games hoping to encapsulate the core of those classic survival horror games, such as Outbreak. Today, Dead Drop Studios presents “Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles”, an episodic tribute to the classic Resident Evil trilogy! Naturally, it has quite a legacy to live up to.  So, will Outbreak succeed in quenching a fan’s thirst while waiting for Village, or is this going to be a virus you’ll want to avoid? Let’s find out!

There’s No Place Like Home


Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles follows the journey of a young woman named Lydia, who while trying to escape a flaming city, finds herself trapped within a decrepit manor. The setting should ring familiar to any fan of the survival horror genre, calling back to the original Resident Evil. Just like that first game in the series, the plot to Outbreak is fairly simple – a virus is plaguing the town, and Lydia has to survive while uncovering the dark secrets behind these circumstances. Although it’s nothing overly special, the setup serves its purpose in inserting us into Lydia’s shoes. After all, these kinds of games have largely always been about gameplay!

You’ve Got Red on You

If you were hoping the gameplay of Outbreak would shine for the lack of a complex narrative, you’d be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong – all the check marks are here! You have an arsenal of weapons to find scattered throughout the various settings. And like any horror game, the main challenge is inventory management, and properly conserving your scarce ammo. The only surprise I was met with was the realization that Outbreak was utilizing a limited save system using floppy disks. Such a feature was one left behind long ago, only being offered now for purists in the harder difficulties of recent Resident Evil remakes. 

You may be wondering now what the issue with Outbreak’s gameplay is, considering it offers everything you’d expect. And here is where one of the major issues with this game lies – it crosses the line from a tribute into a Resident Evil clone! It disappointingly offers nothing new to the survival horror genre, and mechanically feels like it came straight from 1996. There’s no fluidity or grace in the feel of combat, rather feeling quite clunky. Even with the modern control options and customization, Lydia feels sluggish to control. It takes far too long to turn and aim at zombies, only causing the framerate to dip when you do finally shoot them. This is an issue we’ll discuss more in depth soon.

A Light in the Darkness


On a more positive note, if there’s something I have to give credit to Dead Drop Studios for, it’s the atmosphere. As derivative as the game might be, you can tell the developer knows Resident Evil inside and out. The dynamic camera angles and lighting evoke the same sense of dread that makes those games linger in your memory. Even though Outbreak may look like it came from the Playstation 2 in a technical sense, the direction and artistry makes those technological shortcomings forgivable. I do however wish the music played a larger role. As other games of the genre like SIlent Hill proved you can really elevate the experience with a stellar soundtrack. Here, in Outbreak it’s subtle in its purpose to simply get the job done. While it may not detract from the experience, but perhaps the developer could’ve taken notes from other games too. 

Gon’ Give it to Ya

Ladies and gentlemen, now’s the time to talk about the scariest aspect of Outbreak – the performance. Whether you’re playing docked or handheld, the game performs slower than a zombie itself at times! Generally, the game targets a solid 30 frames, but even the slightest action will bring that to an embarrassing crawl. These performance issues are what makes the gunplay feel so frustrating to control. In particular, the demonic creatures you encounter slow the game nearly to a slideshow. Such atrocious performance issues really are inexcusable for a game that shouldn’t be technically demanding. Whether the reason may be that Outbreak is a shoddy port, or poorly optimized, this completely hindered my enjoyment of the game. Many deaths came as a result of this, especially combining the ever-changing camera angles with the poor framerate.

Breaking Out is Hard to Do

Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles is clearly made by somebody who holds an admirable love for the Resident Evil games. Alas, numerous technical issues and a lack of originality makes it feel less of a tribute, and more of a Resident Evil clone from the late 90’s released today. What would otherwise be a forgettable, yet serviceable appetizer for the upcoming Resident Evil Village becomes a shameful, technological mess that I can’t recommend anyone to sit through. Instead, spend your money on the excellent Nintendo Switch ports the series has to offer in the meantime.

Pros

  • Competent visual direction

Cons

  • Far too derivative of it’s inspirations
  • Does absolutely nothing new or original
  • Abysmal framerate that will challenge your patience

Verdict

You’d have as much fun playing Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles as watching the Resident Evil movies. Simply saying, spare your frustrations and play the original games.

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