When it comes to survival horror games, I think most of us fans owe our love for the genre to the original Resident Evil. It was the game that really got many of us into it and went on to inspire many survival horror games that would follow in the years to come. Even in 2020, there are still developers making games inspired by the original Resident Evil games such as this latest one I got to review called Outbreak: The New Nightmare. Developer Dead Drop Studios doesn’t try to hide their inspiration at all as this game feels very much reminded me of Resident Evil: Outbreak in both good ways and bad.
Outbreak: The New Nightmare can be played in single player or split-screen two-player co-op if you choose. I played through the game solo for this review so I can’t comment really on the co-op play but in 2020 it would be nice if it had online support. The story in the game I didn’t really feel to be that important. It’s a standard zombie outbreak has broken out across a city and now you have to try and survive. Most of the story is actually told through a story option on the main menu so that’s where to go if you care. The game has six different characters you can play as: Harry, Hank, Elena, Kane, Ivy, and Lydia. Each of them has their own special abilities to help try and set them apart but I didn’t find them to be different enough to really change the overall experience. There are a few different difficulty settings you can play on with harder ones limiting the number of items you’ll find and increasing the amount of damage you take. The game also has three different modes you can play: campaign, onslaught, and experiments.
Campaign mode is pretty self-explanatory while onslaught mode is more of a horde mode where you battle waves of enemies as long as you can. Experiments mode throws different kinds of challenges at you like having to survive with a very limited light source. No matter which mode I played though I found a lot of annoyances due to this game trying to imitate those original Resident Evil games. Tank controls are in this game but are purely optional. If you’d rather play with the modern control scheme you can do that. The controls are simple but to me just never felt great. The standard walking speed is slow but you can hold square to run although no matter what I was doing the movement just felt weird to me. Triangle brings up your map while circle brings up your inventory which in this game starts off very small. I was only able to carry four items from the get-go which was very frustrating. Attacking enemies was also a chore as you have to hold L2 to ready either your melee weapon or gun and then press R2 to fire. The game has no aim reticule though so managing to land your hits before they hit you is a challenge in itself.
Outbreak uses the fixed camera angles that were a staple of those early Resident Evil games. Sometimes that leads to encountering a good scare but other times it led to me struggling to see items or doors that I needed to see. The level design is pretty good in the game with your main goals usually being to find a key item to open up the way forward. The presentation work is OK but not impressive at all with the character models and environments lacking detail and object clipping happening all over the place. I was also disappointed to see how long the load times are with loading into a level taking 20+ seconds. The audio isn’t much better with there not being much of a soundtrack and audio effects lacking too. I walked right by a raging fire but you’d never know it as there was barely any sound coming from it at all. Gun shots and weapon hits also lack any sort of impact. It’s worth mentioning this was made by one guy and is priced fairly but it just doesn’t live up to the games that it is trying to imitate.
Outbreak: The New Nightmare is only something that I think the most dedicated survival horror fans will enjoy and even then they should approach it with caution. It has some good level design and clearly shows a lot of love in trying to replicate that Resident Evil: Outbreak experience. Sadly, with it just not having anywhere near the manpower behind it the gameplay and visual shortcomings show up way too often. If more work was put into this then it could’ve been something great.
*Outbreak: The New Nightmare is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.