Put enough zombies in a room with a typewriter…
A Resident Evil ‘love letter’, Outbreak: The New Nightmare is the 2nd indie title in a series that promises the moon but never quite delivers. False advertising it’s not, but rather the nostalgia-led expectation that this RE-inspired horror-survival game cannot possibly be as bad as it looks. Welcome to the Outbreak series.
An archaic fixed camera, awkward controls and unfriendly interface exist as a dose of nostalgia for fans of a bygone era, but for everyone else are examples of ancient game mechanics that should be consigned to the long-forgotten past.
We’ve started off on the wrong foot though, so let’s reset and continue as we mean to move on, with some positives – all two of them. Its Onslaught campaign mode (which exists alongside Story and Experiments) and the ability to kill zombies are the only decent features of this soulless offering, unless you count the sound of a reloading gun or the main menu’s “Outbreak” voiceover.
Onslaught is a survival mode that provides wave upon wave of enemies and really should have been the main focus of the game, being that it’s the only one that’s even remotely enjoyable. With a ‘pick-up and play’ quality that combines well with the game’s character levelling up system and unlockables, you can use the waves of enemies to level up your character, allowing you to fare better in the main story, if you haven’t already soured on the experience.
“Potential to build off!” a fan might think – if only the story had you shooting zombies as much as it has you looking at the map and pause menus. Some of these issues are RE nostalgia-related which, while intentional, are still notably irritating like the player’s bearings that are constantly confused by the game’s camera angles, the awful controls and the fact that you can only see your ammo levels and health on its pause screen.
Outbreak: The New Nightmare brings its fair share of bugs and issues to the party though, making the experience that much more regrettable. So basic is the attack system that you can barely register that enemy has landed an attack. Your character doesn’t recoil in pain, often doesn’t make a sound and there’s no blood, forcing you back to the only area of the game with any degree of accuracy – its menu, or so you thought. Even the safety of said menu is a lie, as there’s a bug that allows enemies to continue attacking you even when the game is paused. The worst attack on your perception of video games comes in the form of the level design, however, which is atrocious, with all the rooms and corridors looking exactly the same, so you’d have to be some kind of genius to remember where you are going without your map, nullifying any fun you are having shooting the undead.
The horror genre is quite often used as a gateway into the gaming industry for indie developers, requiring minimal story, detail and gameplay to actually succeed, but this developer seems to be taking the cake and opening their own patisserie.
Considering how many other – very similar – versions this developer has released (5 as of writing), and with another coming this year, it’s highly unlikely that this game will receive a patch or update to fix its issues. It’s also unlikely based on the apology they give for the game’s failings in a screen that loads every time you play the game and the faux pas on the main screen that describes issues as ‘hints’ instead of getting around to fixing them.
It’s impossible to recommend this game, or even this series, when it gets a new low-quality entry every single year. No story, tense music or any decent action to speak of, this feels like a fan-fiction web browser game getting a yearly FIFA update. If you’re an ardent fan of survival horror games, then perhaps it’s worth following the incremental updates as it may eventually result in a decent release, but let me assure you, it’s not now and it’s not Outbreak: The New Nightmare.