Hot on the heels of Zombie studios horror game dud Daylight is a bit of DLC to Red Barrels decidedly more enjoyable Outlast. With the bitter taste of repetitive, procedurally generated corridors and ♥♥♥♥ poor story telling fresh on iron nerved gamers minds, hopes remain high that Whistleblower can cleanse their taste buds and chill their blood. Acting as a prequel of sorts, it certainly has the opportunity to fill in some of the core game's mysteries but the real trick is being able to deliver the tension and fights.
Strait away you see your character, Waylon Park, quickly typing up an email in a dark server room exposing the Murkoff Corporation's misdeeds. It isn't long thereafter that you are lead to the Morphogenic Engine to aid in further experiments. Being introduced to some of the morally bankrupt members of Murkoff and witnessing their twisted experiments first hand goes a long way toward further investing players in the mission to expose and takedown the corporate behemoth. After the intro, however, the narrative takes a back seat with items of intrigue coming in the form of documents and notes taken by Waylon himself, chronicling the events as they unfold as diary entries directed to his wife. The plot returns in the final few minutes, with a conclusion that might appease critics of the parent game's conclusion by fleshing out the aftermath of the events seen in the original game.
While Outlast wasn't without it's fair share of blood and viscera, Whistleblower contains enough gore to make Umberto Lenzi blush. It seems like the folks at Red Barrels binge watched Martyrs, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the Guinea Pig films. Consequently, the game relies less on some of the slower tension building sequences and jump scares in the core game and attempts to shock and unease players with graphic content before pitting them against some memorable psychos. While at times this technique works beautifully, it's repetition cheapens the experience. The guttural start up noise of a circular saw as it escalates to a high pitched shriek generates tremendous anxiety about proceeding to the next area but that anxiety gives way to familiarity as the forbodding howl of powertools seems to be less of a warning and more of a welcome to the next stage of the game. Much of the game suffers from sequences that have players trying to obtain a key or close a valve while being pursued. It gets old and Whistleblower would have greatly benefited from a new twist on the gameplay formula that the core experience established since simply running and hiding from enemies is, from a mechanical perspective, limited. Waylon still carries a camera and still has to hunt for batteries—nothing has changed.
Fortunately, Whistleblower doesn't retread too much of the ground covered in the main game but on the whole, the art direction isn't quite as inspired. There are a number of repeating elements such as plastic lined walls and numerous halls with pealing paint and debris capped off metal gates. Even still, the atmosphere remains heavy and immersive, keeping players invested and some really horrific scenes in the latter portion of the game will burrow under your skin and a few outdoor areas break up some of the monotonous interior design. The structure of Whistleblower is a bit more labyrinthine giving the player the impression that it's less linear than the main experience.
Outlast: Whistleblower is a satisfying slice of of the hide and seek gameplay that fans love. It's sparse narrative fleshes out the main tale, making the entire outlast experience more satisfying in addition to introducing some horrific and memorable new characters. Going forward, Red Barrels will have to expand on the gameplay of future Outlast titles because the endless hunt for switches and keys while being chased delivers diminishing returns when it comes to tension and thrills. If you have the stomach to endure to revolting imagery and events of Whislteblower than it's likely that you will find satisfaction among the corpses, crumbling plaster and peeling paint of Mount Massive.