Outbreak: The New Nightmare: PS4 Review: Retro Resident Evil-like Survival Horror

     Outbreak: The New Nightmare is the result of solo indie developer Evan Wolbach's Drop Dead Studios, and is a callback to a bygone era of horror games.  Based on the old Resident Evil games of the 90s, it focuses on surviving a zombie apocalypse after being dropped into the middle of things and having to just figure it out.  There are no saves, no checkpoints, and no clues- you get dropped in completely blind and have to put in the leg work to finish entire levels in one go as all true survival horror games make you do.

     The PS4 version comes with 6 playable characters, each with their own benefits and detractions- one might start with a good weapon and better healing, while another has a much larger inventory, and another could have some poison immunity or higher weapon damage.  Though each character earns experience and can unlock skills over tries of play time.

     There's a slew of potential play options with 16 scenarios spread over 3 different game modes- there's the typical story campaign, an "experimental mode," and the kill everything you can "onslaught mode."  They each have their particular plus sides, and honestly, I enjoyed the onslaught mode- simple zombie killing fun- and that's coming from someone that is notorious for being a lore hunting enthusiast.

     Outbreak really hits the mark with the retro look with the atmosphere and fixed-camera angles, setting up a feel that was quite era specific.  I was never a fan of that aspect of the Resident Evil games, but I fully appreciate the way it effected the game and experience.  It adds a level of perspective that fits the survival horror genre nicely.  I always preferred the later 3rd person perspective level of immersion more that RE4 shifted to.  The fixed camera angles do present one big issue and it's with the controls.  The controls are just as clunky as they were back in the day- running down a hallway, having the perspective shift, then you run immediately back to where you were and likely a zombie you were fleeing is frustrating as hell.  

     Another issue is the inventory management.  You only have a very, VERY limited inventory- which feels absurdly ridiculous.  Like 4 items for the standard character, and why does an assault rifle take the same inventory as a handgun?  This is made worse by the fact that there appears to be a bug with item combining.  There were items I KNOW I should've been able to combine (as I own the games on Steam as well), but could not actually combine them.  In addition, I must also note that the Playstation Trophies seem to be bugged as well. I killed at least 50 enemies and healed probably 40 times and neither of those trophies popped (nor did the kill your first undead trophy).  The only one that popped was the first death achievement.  Anyways, there's a lot of small annoyances, but in reality, that actually adds a layer of frustration that unintentionally is a perfect call back to the genre Outbreak is mimicing! 

     But back to inventory management, the biggest issue is that unlike the Resident Evil games, you HAVE to kill these undead.  You can't run by them because they'll follow you- so you are forced to kill them and waste ammo.  It's also an issue that you can't outrun them either, they are a bit too fast and will follow you through entire areas.  It seems like a massive imbalance.  Luckily items you need glow on screen (or are visible on the map, because they are hidden behind pillars or something).  So at least that's one nicety to ease the struggle.

      This was a tough review to do.  On one hand Outbreak: The New Nightmare is a janky mess with old graphics, terrible controls, and some serious imbalance/inventory management issues.  But on the other, the developer absolutely nailed the exact feel of the old games it was based on.  It has the lack of resources and resource management, it has the mystery of piecing together what you need to do, and the old fixed-cameras that add a level of intrigue to the experience by making it feel like you're viewing it through security camera footage.  It really is a great callback to those old games.

     In the end, I can heartily recommend this game, but sadly, I can only recommend it for a very specific demographic- those that grew up in, and truly enjoy, those old 90s era survival horror games that Outbreak is focused on imitating.  Some may disagree, but despite its myriad of flaws, Outbreak: The New Nightmare is still a wonderful effort by a solo developer in bringing us a retro-inspired survival horror game that truly captures the feel of the old games, and if you were a fan of them, I'd definitely say give it a shot.

     Outbreak: The New Nightmare is available on the [ Playstation Store ] for $12.99

     Future installments on the way are as follows:

     Outbreak: Epidemic on Sept. 10

     Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles on Sept. 24

     Outbreak: Lost Hope on Oct. 8

     Outbreak on Oct. 22

     *Review Copy provided, thank you!

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