I’ve played my share of survival horror games. I’d say that my first horror game was the cheesy Friday the 13th game on my NES.
Trying to survive the massacre at Camp Crystal lake was one of the hardest things to do especially if you got lost in the woods. This is the one of the original games, aside from the first Teenage Ninja Turtles game, where you could swap out characters on the fly. The game was bad but back then, it kept you on the edge of your seat trying to avoid Jason at all costs. Once the Playstation came out we finally had our first crack of what a true survival horror experience could be. Resident Evil followed the rules of the zombie apocalypse and created some of its own along the way. Outbreak is a game that pays respect to the games before it. But is it enough to make it stand out from the rest?
Outbreak is a co-op top down survival shooter. Keeping things simple is what makes the game challenging and quite enjoyable. Drop Dead Studios understands that there isn’t a need for a huge amount flair or over the top gimmicks to make a great game. Like Chef Gordon Ramsay says “keep it simple”. The games presentation is very well done. From the start you are going to have this Resident Evil 2 level of nostalgia come over you . The setting and the games ambiance sets the proper tone for your adventure. Outbreak is a game that’s not for the faint of heart. This game is out right unforgiving with only giving you one life to live. Not only do you have one life but you cannot pause the game either. So if you are trying to manage your inventory do it quick because you’ll be zombie bait.
In Outbreak you have 4 characters to choose from. Each player has their own starting set up. Depending on your choice you can start with extra health, lock picks, a side arm, or larger inventory. Just like in Resident Evil, inventory management is huge part of the game. It’s one of the things that going to make or break you. Most characters can only hold up to 4 items. So your choices along the way are instrumental for your survival. During my many hours of play, even during my live stream, I found it hard to manage my inventory. The small storage space creates a huge challenge. Do I keep this first aid spray for a key or do I drop it in an area that’s safe where I can come back and scoop it up? Sometimes you second guess yourself if it was a good idea to pick up the knife or extra rounds. This inventory mini game is one of the elements that’s going to keep you on edge of your seat during your play through.
The game’s multiplayer allows you to have up to 4 player coop to survive, 7 different scenarios, a horde mode, and 3 difficulty settings . The servers are cloud based. There is also a region selector so you can adjust which server you connect to if you have a low ping with other players. You can also share your inventory with other players. Finally, for once someone has implemented inventory sharing on the fly. More co-op games that have inventory should be like this . How many games have come out so far and you always wish you could trade inventory with other players but you can’t. We have seen this so many times in the recent years. There are two games that really stand out for me that you couldn’t share inventory when they first released – Destiny and The Division.
Outbreak also has a variety of infected zombies. You have your run of the mill zombie, zombie K9, and what appears to be ravenous pigs. Throughout the game you’ll encounter other zombies on fire, and some that are poisonous. I don’t want to ruin the surprise but Drop Dead Studios have some really creative zombie combinations!
So the game sounds awesome right? So whats the down side, there has to be a catch here. The game does have its share of issues. First of all, it takes the basic rules of zombie survival horror and just throws it out of the window. There are many times where you are in an area that you have cleared out and you still have infected trying to come at you. We experienced this during our live stream. For example. I’m in a hospital and the section that I’m in is totally blocked off. I can’t go into any of the surrounding rooms unless I find a key card. So why is it that this cleared area continues to have zombies if all the doors are locked? I’m not talking about a single infected, let’s try about 6 of them. It makes no sense. Did the infected have a key card to open and close a door? To my understanding zombies don’t know how to open doors. It’s almost like the infected are on a timer and if you are taking too much time the game just randomly spawns infected in your area. This shouldn’t happen at all. I’m not playing horde mode either – this is the campaign. So there shouldn’t be any random spawning of enemies if I’m in a locked out area.
The controls are exactly like they were in Resident Evil 2. Pushing up on the stick or D-pad to move forward was one of the things I would like to forget from Resident Evil 2 . This needs to be fixed ASAP. The scheme was horrible then and it is horrible now. These controls limit the players freedom to move and evade zombies making the game frustrating at times especially with only one life before you have to start over again. Your inventory is an issue as well. The navigating and maintaining your inventory is confusing due to the fact they use two different shades of red to use, combine or drop an item. What’s worse, it’s the same shade they use to select menu items. This confusion caused me to die a few times because of this.
Let’s talk about the Multiplayer. At the time of this review, there were a number of people playing online and but I just couldn’t seem to join them. The multiplayer should be fixed so you can start a multiplayer game solo and allow others to join session in progress. For some reason you can’t start a multiplayer game unless you have two or more people in the lobby. Allowing people to drop into games in progress will encourage more folks to try the coop mode and have a better playing experience.
As for the single player, my honest opinion there are way too many pick up items for a survival horror game. I would like to see the AI respawn removed and there be less pick up items when you are playing solo.
Despite the flaws, I absolutely love the nostalgic feel I get from playing this game. The vibe, the difficulty, the atmosphere, Outbreak is very well done. The game is best enjoyed when played by 4 people. The campaign is very challenging and it will make you think twice about what you do and don’t pick up. Solo play is frustrating with AI spawning in areas you’ve cleared out. This may put-off the casual gamer but for the hardcore that like a challenge they will come back a few times to try to survive.