The Outlast Trials Review – A Bold Move But It Kinda Works

A bunch of new mechanics that mash together to create a fun therapy session!

Overall
4
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Verdict

Verdict

Despite its fundamental co-op flaws, The Outlast Trials delivers an impressive gameplay experience across the board.

Pros

  • Amazing Setting And Environment.
  • Fun Gameplay.
  • In-Depth Lore.
  • Accessible For New Players.
  • Highly Replayable.
  • Impressive Visuals.
  • Stable Performance.

Cons

  • Some Chore-Like Missions.
  • Tiny Single-Player Experience.
  • Clunky A.I. And Animations.
  • Horror Aspect Watered Down.
  • Vague Trial Objectives.

Players regard the Outlast games as one of the best franchises in the horror genre, and I can firmly attest to that. However, when I heard that The Outlast Trials would be a co-op multiplayer experience rather than a single-player game like its predecessors, I was already skeptical. Fortunately, though, after going through some of the trials, I can still say that Outlast’s magic lives on, although it may not be up to the standards.

Key Takeaways
  • Developer: Red Barrels
  • Publisher: Red Barrels
  • Release Date: 5th March 2024
  • Platforms: PlayStation 4|5, Xbox Series X|S, PC 
  • Game Length: 17 Hours
  • Time Played: 20 Hours
  • Editor’s Note: We have thoroughly tested The Outlast Trials on PC, putting roughly 20 hours into its completion.

Story And Setting

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The gruesome experiments at Sinyala Facility (Screenshot by eXputer)

The Outlast Trials’ story still pushes that insanity-driven narrative where the protagonist is brutally tortured in a world full of madmen. It starts out with your unnamed protagonist coming across a job ad at the Sinyala Facility, but when you visit the area, you get abducted alongside other victims and are forced into horrible experiments by 2 individuals.

For the rest of the 15-minute single-player, you get brainwashed by Dr. Hendricks, the supposed head of the facility, to let go of human emotions and become an asset, a Sleeper Agent, for the facility. You dump core memories, public and private documents, love, and beliefs, and each trial you face later deepens that arc further.

The Outlast Trials’ story still pushes that insanity-driven narrative where the protagonist is brutally tortured in a world full of madmen.

The story here is definitely taking a backseat, especially since you only see the plot in The Outlast Trials’ prologue. For some, including myself, this might be somewhat upsetting since Outlast 1 and Outlast 2’s story-driven parts added depth, and seeing that aspect removed is noticeable. You can still find bits of lore in the co-op’s trials, but it just doesn’t feel the same.

Chilling, Claustrophobic, And Cursed

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The unsettling world of The Outlast Trials (Image by eXputer)

The setting, unlike the story, remains largely the same as Outlast 1 and 2, which means it’s incredible. That claustrophobic feel of escape rooms, the chilling atmosphere of what’s hiding in that dark corner, and the cursed environment of death and disease sell the vision Red Barrels was going for.

The setting, unlike the story, remains largely the same as Outlast 1 and 2, which means it’s incredible.

There are no cheap jumpscares, no bloated cutscenes, and no need to do excess gore to make you feel unsettled. The dodgy lights, blood on the floor, bodies on the sidelines, and the gloom make the experience so immersive that I wanted to slowly tilt my camera just to take it all in. Of course, I couldn’t do that for too long because a sick freak was always chasing me.

Gameplay

gameplay outlast trials
Taking part in a Trial (Image by eXputer)

Aside from the major shift to a multiplayer experience, The Outlast Trials keeps the genre-defining horror survival elements players were hoping for. Instead of a clear-cut narrative, the game introduces different levels, or ‘trials,’ where you can pair with up to 3 more players and must complete a series of objectives. Your ultimate goal is to complete all the trials and reach Freedom, the last trial in the game.

Completing trials rewards you with XP and coins, and their amount depends on the rank you received from the event. This rank correlates to your individual and team performance – the better you perform, the more rewards you get. XP increases Therapy Levels with which you can unlock vendors in the lobby that give you more Rigs, while coins are for unlocking new cosmetics and room decorations.

Aside from the major shift to a multiplayer experience, The Outlast Trials keeps the genre-defining horror survival elements players were hoping for.

Rigs are upgradable boosts that can help you during your trials, like unlocking abilities to blind monsters and healing yourself even more. Besides those, you can unlock other aids like Presciptions which become available at vendors at higher Therapy Levels.

rigs outlast trials
Buying Rigs from the vendor in the lobby (Screenshot Captured by eXputer)

As always, stealth is your best friend in this game. Walk slowly or crawl to avoid alerting enemies, and hide in certain areas or dark corners to escape them. Use your Nightvision goggles to see in the dark, and watch out for audio queues that signal nearby danger. Find antidotes, medicine, and batteries, to give yourself enough resources to live through the monsters.

Enemies feel slow and clunky sometimes, and I never considered them a threat since I could easily outrun them.

Before I jump on the multiplayer, I want to touch upon the “Psychosis” mechanic, which I think is an exciting addition. Alongside your HP, there’s a Psychosis meter which depletes when hitting traps or certain enemies. As the meter lowers, you begin hallucinating, and when it’s empty, you must face the Skinner Man, a ghost-like entity that lowers HP when around you. Run for those antidotes or you’re in a world of pain when he comes around.

The Online Comes With Joy And Deceit

online lobby trials
The humble community in the online lobby (Image Credit Copyright: eXputer)

The online lobby, although feeling generic at first, has a certain vibe to it that I really enjoy. Here, you can join trials, interact with vendors and other players, and see your room. However, my favorite additions are the minigames and how they’re a fun way to pass the time during matchmaking.

Unfortunately, some of the doubts I had with this gameplay style came to pass. Instead of a solid progression, I feel like these missions can get really tedious, almost chore-like. Part of the reason I think that is because the objective ‘clues’ are so vague that they’re usually useless. My friends and I were literally running in circles for half an hour because we couldn’t decipher what the clue named “Spade” meant.

Overall, I feel like The Outlast Trials did great on so many mechanical fronts, but the mission design feels off, to say the least.

My biggest gripe, however, is how the co-op affected The Outlast Trials’ horror element. Enemies feel slow and clunky sometimes, and I never considered them a threat since I could easily outrun them. In some instances, my friends and I were trolling the monsters because the A.I. wasn’t keeping up with the aggro switches.

Overall, I feel like The Outlast Trials did great on so many mechanical fronts, but the mission design feels off, to say the least. Besides that, the depreciating horror aspect was disappointing, especially since the 10-minute single-player introduction showed so much promise.

Visuals And Performance

graphics and performance outlast trials
The immersive levels in The Outlast Trials (Image Credit Copyright: eXputer)

The Outlast Trials’ visuals are its strongest feature, creating an eerie and detailed environment that is a joy to look at. Every trial I visited was clean, refreshing, and amazingly detailed to the point where you could see the passion the developers put in.

The environments have incredible visual fidelity, the monsters look crisp, and there’s enough vibrance to make items and areas stand out. It’s no surprise that this game would look as good as it does considering how visually timeless Outlast 1 and 2 were. One minor issue I have is that the monsters don’t appear as creative compared to previous titles, but it’s not so off-putting that they look like generic assets from the engine.

The Outlast Trials’ visuals are its strongest feature, creating an eerie and detailed environment that is a joy to look at.

Performance-wise, I didn’t face any stutters, glitches, crashes, or graphical issues during my playtime. I ran The Outlast Trials on a modest-spec laptop with an i7-10750H, 16 GB RAM, and a GTX 1660Ti Mobile, and I was easily touching 60+ FPS on the Epic visual settings. So, it’s safe to say that the game will run smoothly on most mid-end and even low-end hardware. 

Verdict

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My first-ever Trial completion (Image Captured by eXputer)

Despite its fundamental co-op flaws, The Outlast Trials delivers an impressive gameplay experience across the board. Whether you’re with friends or random people in a party, each trial offers and feels refreshing to add that replayability factor. The game is highly accessible for newcomers, and while not as horrific as its predecessors, it’s definitely unique enough to pique a veteran’s interest.

As I mentioned, The Outlast Trials isn’t perfect, and apart from the setting, graphics, and the constant-chasing mechanic, it feels like a completely different title. That feeling of isolation is gone, and I wholeheartedly suggest not going into this game if you’re looking for a one-to-one experience of Outlast 1 or 2. In that case, wait for Outlast 3, and I’m sure Red Barrels and J.T. Petty will deliver.

I still recommend The Outlast Trials and think it’s worth giving a shot. It might be slightly polarizing, but if you’re playing it with friends, it’s honestly one of the most fun gaming experiences you might have this year.

This has been my review of The Outlast Trials. While you are here, consider checking out some of our other reviews:

Perspective From Other Staff Members

Some of our staff at eXputer, who were eager to try out The Outlast Trials, have some thoughts they’d like to share on the game:

  • Syed Hamid Ali ShahAs someone who’s been a dedicated fan of the Outlast franchise, I was somewhat disappointed with this entry. It ditched a lot of the things that made the previous games so great, and the thrill in this title was just lackluster.
  • Usama MehmoodI tried out The Outlast Trials with my friends over at Discord and honestly had a blast with this game. Each trial tested your sense of exploration and puzzle-solving skills, and having new objectives and monsters every time added a great replayability factor. Overall, I definitely recommend trying it out.
This is box title
Get This Game

If you’re looking for a fun co-op survival horror experience with great visuals, lore, and intriguing gameplay.

Dont Get This Game

If you’re expecting a similar feeling to Outlast 1 and 2 or if you’re not a fan of survival horror games.

Do I Need To Get This Game

Yes, The Outlast Trials is a unique take on the series formula, and while it might be slightly polarizing, it’s definitely worth trying out.

Alternative Survival Horror Games
  • DEVOUR
  • Dying Light
  • Resident Evil 7
  • Dead By Daylight
  • Amnesia
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Moiz Banoori is the brains behind eXputer. Having worked at various Video Game sites, with 8 years of Content Writing Experience and a Journalism Degree at hand, he presently monitors teams, creates strategies, and publishes qualified pieces through his aptitude at eXputer. Feel free to get in touch with him through his gaming profile on Steam and PSN.

Experience: 8+ Years || Manages Teams, Creates Strategies, and Publishes Guides on eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Journalism.

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