We’re so close to the end. I can taste the freedom and lack of oppressive archaic psychiatric treatments. It’s just myself, my mate, and a random guy who was brought along for a chaotic and painful multiplayer horror experience.
We have one task: bring a prisoner to the electric chair and smoke him before he can spread company secrets. It’s been a long, arduous journey to this point, with patients chasing us around the abandoned facility plagued full of electrocuting traps and locked doors.
I open one of the final doors and come face to face with a wall of a human. Bloodied and angry-looking, he holds a worryingly big knife. I sense he is going to be a problem. My team scatter in confused circles, each of us being chased in turn by the angry knife-wielder – who proves to be horribly quick on his feet – all while trying to push the prisoner to the final location.
Rushing through the double doors into something that looks like Frankenstein’s childhood bedroom, littered with electrical equipment, anatomy charts, and broken tiles, we’re at the end now. The electric chair sits in the middle of this abandoned, dark, dusty room with four foreboding switches surrounding it on all sides. It’s pretty clear what we have to do. As one of us guides the prisoner to the chair, the other two desperately try to distract angry knife guy from botching our final job.
But then the realization hits: there are three of us and four switches. Angry knife guy feels like he’s part of the team now, but as he chases me around the small dingy electrocution room, foaming at the mouth, I get the feeling that he won’t be up for helping. What to do? Should we have two people going between switches, turning them on while someone distracts the killer? No. Instead, we let fear, panic, and chaos set in and all three of us run screaming around the room, randomly turning on switches while ducking and diving against incoming knife attacks. Yes, it took us a ridiculous amount of time to get all four switches flipped, and it may have shaved a couple of years off my life, but in the end, we sent the prisoner to his maker, and honestly, it’s why The Outlast Trials is the most enjoyable multiplayer horror experience I’ve had all year.
The Outlast Trials may not sound like anything complex or groundbreaking – put players in a scary space filled with scary enemies and make them perform simple tasks – but that’s why it works so well. Instead of going for something never seen before, developer Red Barrels combines what made the Outlast series so much fun with the best parts of multiplayer horror games.
There’s still the gritty bloody horror, with horrific enemies that love to chase you through derelict corridors, but now you can flee from them with friends. Rather than the company defusing the scares, The Outlast Trials is scary because you have to rely on your teammates. Trusting people is the true horror behind this game. To survive the trials, you have to coordinate even while terrified.
Get me off this train
I may only have played The Outlast Trials’ beta, but the scares it gave me in its short time are more than enough to make it my game of the year for 2022. It’s also my most anticipated game for next year because I can’t wait to see what other horrors will be hunting me in the full game. But, I can’t say yet if it will be my favorite game in 2023 because some of the best games I’ve played this year were ones I knew nothing about when I went into them, be that the RPG card game Wildfrost, the catch ‘em all Slime Rancher 2, or my game of the year, The Outlast Trials. No expectations mean I can’t be disappointed.
So while I thoroughly enjoyed The Outlast Trials beta and am quietly excited for what is to come in 2023, I’ll keep my cards to my chest and try to distract myself as best as I can until I can finally be chased around an abandoned facility by angry knife guy again.
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Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications.
Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.