Outbreak (PlayStation 4)
Also available on PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Switch, and Windows
Outbreak is a retro-style horror game from indie developer Drop Dead Studios. It is heavily inspired by Resident Evil, and while it is a little bit on the nose with that sometimes, it does enough different to keep it from being written off as a copy.
Outbreak bills itself as a co-op retro-style survival horror game. It has a top-down perspective that feels similar to Robotron, but it adopts tank controls similar to Resident Evil. It does have three variations on these tank controls to suit your desires, but given that every system's controllers have two analog sticks, the use of tank controls rather than dual stick controls just feels awkward and wholly unwelcome. That said, the controls do work just fine and don't take long to get used to even if they are far from ideal. I do have to give them credit for supporting not just co-op but local co-op, a feature disturbingly absent from many modern games and one that I always love seeing included.
The story is told over the course of four or five levels by finding journals and notes spread throughout the world. The game's levels take you through a hospital and its underground facilities as you try to make your escape following an outbreak of a zombie infection of some kind. Pretty generic totally-just-Resident-Evil-2 stuff except replace the police station with a hospital. Still, though, while it does nothing to reinvent the wheel, it does what it does pretty well. One major grip I have, though, is that the "full" story is locked behind difficulty. There are three difficulties - Normal, Hard, and Nightmare - and to get the full story, you have to play on the hardest difficulty. As the patron saint of Bitch Mode, I call shenanigans on this entire premise. Your inventory is also woefully small - you can only hold a maximum of four items - but that's pretty standard for survival horror, I guess.
The game is pretty short - probably around four hours for a full playthrough - but the fact that there's co-op makes it worth playing through more than once with friends. There are also some short self-contained story levels as well as endless horde levels to give the game some extra replay value. I, personally, didn't enjoy the combat enough to care about playing those horde levels solo, but I could see how it could be fun if you have a friend to play with.
Outbreak is a competent indie horror game, but it's definitely not going to fool you into thinking it's made by a big studio or with a big budget. It wears its limitations on its sleeve. Still, though, for what it is, it's an enjoyable zombie romp. I'm not sure I'd use the term "horror" as I didn't find it scary at all, but horror is also my favorite genre, so it takes a bit to scare me; folks who don't play a lot of horror games might disagree with me on that one. If you find it on sale for, say, $8 or less, I'd say it's worth it. At the usual price of $10-$12, depending on your platform, though, it's a harder sell unless you're big into couch co-op. Wait for a sale, but if you're into couch co-op, this is a solid choice for the season of spoop. I will say, though, the couch co-op is what cemented my rating at 3/5; I was really torn between placing it at a high 2 or a low 3 without the local co-op element.
My Rating - 3 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.