Outbreak is a top down survival horror game and is the first game developed and released by Dead Drop Studios. While playing the game, I found that it is a lot harder than I initially thought it would be. From the Steam page – “Explore a nightmarish environment, scrounge for supplies, and battle the undead in Outbreak — an online co-op survival horror game. The clock never stops as you attempt to manage an extremely limited inventory with a murderous horde on the hunt. Choose between acquiring additional weapons, healing items, or necessary tools for progression. You have only one life. Make it count!”
A city is on the mends after a series of murders caused by an unknown killer had upset the balance that they once had. While the citizens try to find their peace once more the killer is caught by the police in the woods, blood dripping from his mouth. He had just massacred a family on a camping trip and had eaten them.
After a while the strange reports faded and were becoming a distant memory as the city got past the dark times, and the people were starting to feel safe and at ease once more. Until one evening when the attacks resumed, catching all in the city off guard.
Many people fell victim during the onslaught, many of them being infected by bites and scrapes caused by their attackers. Before long there was a monstrous horde that tore through the city leaving few to escape as the streets were engulfed in panic.
Four survivors managed to reach the old hospital and barricaded themselves inside to hide from the horde and to hopefully survive. While they have ended up there by coincidence, they are force to band together to survive.
You get the choice of four different characters to use, all of whom have different strengths and weaknesses. The game also suggests that you play with at least four people, so it is a game you can get your friends involved in at a LAN or online. While playing with a group the game also has its own voice chat for everyone to use, which is good for those who don’t have Mumble, Ventrilo, or Discord.
The characters you can choose from are:
Mason– A seasoned police officer and military veteran, who has lived in the area for most of his life. He starts with a gun and a few rounds of ammunition and also has good damage resistance.
Alendra– A computer scientist and engineer. She can bypass simple locks without keys and starts with lock picks. She’s a little weak to attacks though.
Ethan– A college student working on his bio science degree. He heals quicker than anyone else and starts with a healing item.
Quies– A para legal working on her law degree. Has a larger inventory than the others but cannot combine healing items.
Outbreak also has three different difficulty settings, each one harder than the last with Biohazard being the worst. On normal setting, items and ammo are common to find, there are a lot less enemies that will chase you, and you will encounter fewer of them as well. You can still run out of supplies if you are not careful though, and not all of the story will be revealed to you.
On hard setting, the number of supplies is reduced, there are more enemies and the damage they do to you is increased on this mode. You will not have access to some of the most powerful weapons, though secret passages that were not revealed on normal mode will be available on hard, and more of the story will be revealed.
On Biohazard setting the game does not hold any punches back and comes at you with full vengeance. The majority of the advanced weapons have been removed, and enemies spawn in greater numbers, and the amount of damage you take is significantly increased as well. The best bet in this mode is to just try to run and avoid as many of the enemies as you can. Ammo is also sparse so you will need to conserve it as best you can. Unlike hard or normal mode, Biohazard mode introduces a new type of enemy called the Super Brute who is invulnerable and chases your team endlessly. He can not be killed and is slightly faster than the normal enemies. If you can survive this setting, you will be rewarded for your commitment for you will find more paths available to you and even more story elements.
Outbreak works on crippling the player as much as it can. You are limited in how much of a room you can see. Even with a flashlight on, it is hard to see what is around you or what may be sneaking up on you. This helps to add tension and keep the player on edge while they try to find their way through the dimly lit hospital halls. Difficulty is increased further by having what is called ‘tank controls’ for movement, meaning you don’t have much freedom while moving around trying to avoid the monsters, though you can make a quick 180 degree turn if needed.
When firing your gun or even hitting with an axe or a knife, you have to ready your weapon before you can swing or shoot it, leaving you vulnerable, but it also lets you have a split second to decide if you want to attack them or simply flee.
One of the other features to make you feel the tension and be wary of your surroundings is that the game does not have a pause menu, nor does the game pause when you go into your inventory. Initially it was one of the things I found to be annoying, as I am used to being able to go into my inventory and not have to worry about being attacked while healing, or switching weapons. I can appreciate why the game designers chose to do this though as it certainly adds a lot of apprehension and forces you to find a safer location before rummaging through your pack.
The game has no HUD and you will often need to go into your inventory to see where your health is at so that you don’t die, although you can gauge your health level without looking at the inventory due to the screen being covered in static as you take more damage, making it harder to see what is happening.
Having only one life while playing makes the game very difficult. I am used to having checkpoints and save locations, so this was hard to get used to. It made me want to use my healing items more so that I could get further while also knowing I had to conserve them. If you are playing with other people, your items will drop at their feet if you die and hopefully the items you collected will be of some use to them. However, keep in mind that if you are separated from your team and die away from them, you will make it significantly harder for them as they will now be weakened and their survival will be put at more risk.
I do suggest this game to those who like to play with others and who like to be challenged, as it can be rather challenging, especially when playing on your own, though I think hardcore players will have better luck with it than I did.
Outbreak is now out and available on Steam. Grab it while it’s currently 30% off!
For more info check out their site or have a look at their steam page – http://www.outbreakzone.com/ – http://store.steampowered.com/app/514990/
SUMMARY: Despite the difficulty and perhaps being out of my ‘comfort zone’ in terms of it’s almost rogue-like style I thoroughly enjoyed playing Outbreak. The edge of your seat tension is palpable and the game is a lot of fun if you have some friends to keep you company (or throw to the monsters as you flee).