Title: Outbreak: Endless Nightmares
Developer: Dead Drop Studios
Release Date: May 19, 2021
Reviewed On: PS5
Publisher: Dead Drop Studios
A few features I never thought survival horror needed were things like randomized dungeons, weapon durability, and a directionless narrative. Well, developer Dead Drop Studios had a different idea of what the genre could be and decided to deliver the mess that is Outbreak: Endless Nightmares.
Outbreak: Endless Nightmares begins with a long text crawl that explains how your character arrived at this temporary place which changes over time. Following the scene, you’re dumped into a small hub world where you can explore and pick up starting weapons. Strange statues are scattered about that have nothing of interest to share in this area, but this where you’ll ultimately be able to change run speeds, camera perspective, and other similar features.
The controls take some getting used to as they are pretty much tank controls. Usually, this wouldn’t be a problem as you would use the d-pad, but here you use the joystick to move. You can change to what they call modernized tank controls, but I didn’t feel much of a difference between the two. Well, let’s be clear, I never felt like I was walking anywhere, more like I awkwardly stumbled my way through the map adjusting to the terrible controls.
There is a remedy though, by changing the camera angle, you’re able to enter an over-the-shoulder mode and first-person mode. While the inputs are the same, it’s easier to orient yourself from these perspectives. However, controls are the least of this game’s worries once you actually start playing.
If you get too close to a wall in first-person, it will send you back to over-the-shoulder mode until you get further away. This creates a strange shift while making your way through the procedurally generated rooms. If you wish to see what’s ahead of you or even what’s behind a door, you can switch to a tactical camera mode that can fly through objects and reveal all of the seemingly pre-made assets this horror adventure has to offer, which in retrospect was the scariest part about this game.
This tactical camera just doesn’t care. It will go through walls, doors and even escape the boundaries of the game itself. Its intended function is to give you a view of the entire floor you are on to better prepare, but in a survival horror-type game, not knowing what’s ahead is where the fun is. I have no idea why this feature is here, but we’re still only scraping the surface of this sad excuse for a “game.”
Your first job in Outbreak: Endless Nightmares is to collect coins used to unlock areas. Every entrance is boarded up, and we’re not even playing the actual game yet. At this point, I was about forty minutes in and still hadn’t done anything.
There’s no tutorial or details on how to start playing. You’re thrown into the hub world and expected to figure it out. I think these ghostly statues are supposed to act like tutorials, but most of what they say is useless or cryptic. It was only out of boredom that I interacted with a piano that I finally got to play.
Let me be clear, the piano does have a glow around it, like everything else you can interact with, but when everything else says complete nonsense, the last thing I thought would progress the game would be a piano. It’s like if every door in a hall is locked in an RPG, and after hours you interact with a random vase that has a key. This hub world is just a strange way to start. Why not just begin with the first run knowing that you were gonna die?
Now that I was actually playing, the inadequate controls come back for revenge. I was running into walls, enemies, and traps that I promise I was trying to avoid. Each room is littered with gas traps that look like green fart animations, enemies, and a load of pre-bought assets during a run. There were even runs where I was spawned in taking damage from an enemy placed right behind me.
You die a lot in this game which is expected in a roguelike, but with death comes more information or unlocked features to make it further. However, here when you die, you keep all your weapons and ammo, which at first seems cool until you realize your gun is close to breaking. Yes, these weapons have durability, and it’s probably the most annoying feature yet. What’s worse about this is that ammo is almost impossible to find, and none of the starter items from the hub respawn.
I know that I haven’t been talking much about the story, but that’s mainly cause I don’t really know what’s going on. Most of it is told through either documents or a text crawl that would rival even a visual novel opening. I had no idea what was happening, and a five-minute text crawl, in the beginning, wasn’t the way to get me to care. Apparently, this is the sixth entry in this series, and I have no intention of ever playing any of the previous entries.
I spent two hours playing Outbreak: Endless Nightmares, which was more than enough to know it wouldn’t get better. This game fails at being a roguelike and survival horror with its terrible systems, controls, and asset flipped layouts, but that’s only the summarized version of this awful experience. The endless nightmares of Outbreak come from knowing you wasted any amount of time from your life playing it.
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