Outlast is a very popular horror game from 2013 that had received a lot of attention upon release and in the years to come. But what makes Outlast so good, and why did it gain as much popularity as it did?
Well, most importantly, Outlast came out during a time when Let’s Play-style videos exploded on YouTube, particularly when it came to horror games such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Slender: The Eight Pages.
As for Outlast itself, it was a very “focused” game, so to speak. At its core, the game revolved around stealth, chases, and jumpscares, so it wasn’t one of those atmospheric slow-burn horror experiences that focused a lot on the plot or exploration and puzzles.
Most of it was all about navigating the environments of a dilapidated insane asylum, searching for critical items and switches that would allow you to progress. All the while avoiding the former patients and finding batteries to power your camcorder’s night vision mode, the only means that you have of seeing in the dark.
That said, in this article, we’ll be listing several games that are like Outlast in one way or another. So, if you want to check out some games that might offer a similar thrill, read on!
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Amnesia: The Dark Descent
The first and most obvious game to include on the list would be 2010’s classic Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a game that Outlast drew a lot of inspiration from.
Much like in Outlast, light is your most precious resource in Amnesia, and the player has to keep an eye out for oil and tinderboxes that allow them to light their lantern and the environmental lights, respectively.
Light is extra important in Amnesia because it is crucial to keeping the player’s sanity bar full, as low sanity can lead to a blurry screen and less responsive controls.
Most importantly, Amnesia was the game that popularized the “no combat” approach in survival horror games, so much like with Outlast’s enemies, the player must either run or hide from the grotesque monstrosities that they will encounter throughout their journey.
However, unlike Outlast, Amnesia relies much more on atmosphere and exploration than on scripted jumpscares and chase sequences. It also has some puzzles, and the plot actually amplifies the horror rather than just feeling tacked on simply because one couldn’t have a game without a story.
In any case, Amnesia is a classic that you absolutely must play if you haven’t already.
Penumbra: Black Plague
An often-overlooked franchise from Amnesia’s creators, 2007’s Penumbra: Overture was the first title from Frictional Games where they implemented some innovation that would also define Amnesia later on. However, while Overture is important for the overall story of Penumbra, the game that we’ll be focusing on is Penumbra: Black Plague.
Most fans agree that Black Plague is the superior game, and this makes perfect sense considering that the team had some more experience and player feedback to work with when designing it. In short, what makes it better than the first game is the fact that it features more varied environments and much better, more intimidating enemies.
At its core, Black Plague plays pretty much like a slightly less-refined version of Amnesia – exploration, puzzles, and story are put in the forefront, the monsters cannot be beaten by conventional means, and the now-dated graphics are actually quite effective.
The third (and final) Frictional Games title that we’ll mention is their 2015 release, SOMA. Unlike the games that preceded it, SOMA tones down the survival horror elements in favor of a more narrative-oriented approach.
That said, there are no resources to manage or worry about although there are still enemies to worry about and avoid, much like in Outlast. Ultimately, however, what makes SOMA stand out is its good art direction, oppressive atmosphere, and captivating story that asks some heavy existential questions that are guaranteed to stick with the player long after the credits roll.
Alien: Isolation came out in 2014, and it is probably one of the best-executed survival horror formulas ever.
The unique retro-futuristic environment design inspired by the 1979 Alien film gives the game a striking visual style, although that isn’t what makes it so special. Rather, what immediately helped Alien: Isolation overshadow games like Outlast was its superb enemy AI.
Sure, the human and android enemies helped provide some variety and keep the game’s long campaign from going stale, but the alien was the star of the show, and it was the best monster ever seen in a game of this kind. While the enemies of Amnesia and Outlast were easy enough to trick once you learned their behavior, the alien is always unpredictable, which is what makes it such an unnerving foe.
It makes few scripted appearances throughout the game, and when it’s not randomly patrolling the corridors, it is guided by sensory input, mainly sound. It is difficult to sneak past it, and it can kill the player in one hit, so being spotted usually means death.
The situation is made easier only with the help of tools such as the noisemaker or the flamethrower, which can distract the alien or temporarily scare it off. However, it usually comes back with a vengeance after that, so avoiding confrontation is preferred.
In any case, this is an absolute must-play for all horror fans, especially those who liked Outlast for its tense stealth sections and adrenaline rush-inducing chases.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Released in 2017, the 7th mainline installment in the classic Resident Evil franchise, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, provided a bit of fresh air for a franchise that had settled into the mold of an action shooter for the previous decade.
Resident Evil 7 is played from a first-person perspective, which makes it more immersive than most of the other games in the series. The change was introduced partly to help boost the game using the VR hype train that was gaining traction around the time of the game’s release, and that was probably for the best.
In short, Resident Evil 7 features a gameplay formula that combines several elements from new and old Resident Evil games alike, as well as some others from other horror titles that came out over the years.
There are many aesthetic similarities between this game and Outlast – the gore, the dilapidated environments, and the villains who don’t seem to be “all there.” When it comes to the gameplay, the player still needs to avoid some unbeatable enemies, albeit there is a combat system in this game, and some of the enemies can actually be killed.
That said, there are many reasons why an Outlast fan would also like Resident Evil 7, and if you can play in VR, all the better.
The Evil Within
While we’re at the subject of Resident Evil and Outlast, we have to mention The Evil Within, a title that may seem like it was created as a synthesis of these two games.
The game is played from a third-person perspective, much like the newer Resident Evil titles, but it places a much greater emphasis on survival horror than on action. Ammo is scarce, the player is encouraged to avoid enemies whenever possible, and many of the enemies feel as if they come straight out of Outlast and Silent hill.
However, The Evil Within and its sequel, The Evil Within 2, can often be a bit over-the-top with their story, delivery, and design, to the point where it can come across as outright comical rather than scary or disturbing. Regardless, it is a tense game that will definitely give you some Outlast vibes.
Layers of Fear
Layers of Fear is one of those games that forego entirely combat and any form of survival elements in favor of exploration and story-based psychological horror.
That said, there are no patrolling monsters to avoid and no resources to manage, as the only task that the player has is to navigate the shifting hallways of the protagonist’s home (i.e., his mind) to figure out the story.
So, the game is more story-driven, and in that respect, it is perhaps more similar to games such as Amnesia and SOMA rather than Outlast, but we feel that it is worth mentioning nonetheless.
Among the Sleep
Among the Sleep has a similar formula to Outlast. There are no survival elements, and the only things you need to worry about are navigating the environment and solving the occasional puzzle while avoiding enemies. Of course, the main twist that Along the Sleep brings to the table is the fact that you’re playing as a toddler.
This makes for a very interesting perspective, making the player feel smaller and more vulnerable, be it due to their diminutive stature or the clumsy way that the protagonist moves around when walking upright instead of crawling.
All in all, Among the Sleep is an interesting little game that can be completed in about two to three hours, but it is also quite cheap, especially if you can catch it at a discount.
Dead by Daylight
Dead by Daylight is probably the most unusual game on this list in that it is not a single-player but a multiplayer experience.
Namely, this is an asymmetrical multiplayer game that has one player assuming the role of a killer while up to four other players assume the roles of survivors who must elude and escape the killer by repairing generators that open the doors that lead out of the so-called “trial grounds.”
Of course, it’s not all as simple as it may seem at first glance, as survivors can use various tools and items that can help them escape while the different killers have different abilities they can use to surprise and catch their prey e.g., setting traps, teleportation, or temporary invisibility, among others.
The game has received mixed reviews from critics but has an 80% user rating on Steam, though it’s probably best to wait and grab it at a discount, as there is a ton of DLC (23 pieces of it as of April 2020) that you might also want to get at some point.
And that would be our selection of the best games similar to Outlast! It goes without saying that these are only our picks and that there are many more horror games out there that might bear some level of similarity to Outlast. If we have skipped some of your favorites that you feel should be included here, feel free to let us know in the comments and we’ll see about adding them in the future!