It wasn’t all that long ago that solo developer Dead Drop Studios LLC released survival horror games Outbreak, and Outbreak: The New Nightmare after originally being released through Steam. The first entry was a top down affair, which whilst providing some interesting ideas, was a bit awkward to control among other things. Not a terrible game, but there was room for improvements. The next iteration saw the game move to a Resident Evil style fixed camera and control layout. Again, it had its issues that prevented it from being a massive success, and again, there was certainly something there, something that could have been amazing and tempting for fans of survival horror. Now, we have Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles making its way to console, and the big question is; have the wrongs been corrected? Let’s find out.
Upon loading up the game, I was given a text introduction to the narrative regarding the survivors from the previous game. Escaping their predicament and wanting to leave their nightmarish hell behind. But as there’s now a new game, we are aware that it didn’t go to plan. After being unconscious for a short period, our lone survivor wakes to find that her friends are all missing. No clue as to there whereabouts, she makes for a nearby isolated mansion, and here begins her new adventure. The Resident Evil nod comes in here, and there’s no escaping that. It could be called lazy, but an isolated mansion full of dread at every turn through narrow hallways and claustrophobic rooms make for a tense atmosphere and frantic game play, right?
It’s a Resident Evil clone, there’s no argument there. One of the most iconic series of the last 20 years plus, and one that many gamers hold dear. I don’t mind personally, as I have played many games in the series and enjoyed them. So it’s nice to get another take on the genre. So what does Outbreak do different? Is it worth a purchase? Given the price, I’d say yes. This is just the first chapter however, with another trio of adventures to come, I’d say get involved. A lot of the problems that hampered the previous games have been dealt with, and this title plays a lot better than before. It’s by no means a deep and engaging experience, but focuses directly on survival and the end result of escaping from this horrific mansion.
Starting off in a bedroom, you are safe for the moment, but staying out will see you achieve nothing. So grab your gun, some first aid spray and leave the room. It isn’t long before you find a zombie that needs dealing with, and a floppy disk which acts as your save system when used with a computer unit. A nice modern twist on the genres Godfather, ink ribbon and typewriter combo. There’s small puzzles involved which is as simple as finding a numerical key code to unlock doors and various pick ups to make your life a little bit easier as you navigate your way around the mansion.
I did find playing with a fixed camera awkward this time around, as I did all them years ago playing Resident Evil. Perhaps I’m more accustomed to an over the shoulder perspective of modern games, or even a first person view. I get more involved in my surroundings this way, and perhaps in the future this is a direction for the series. Outbreak manages well enough, but combat still has that awkward feel as you’re rooted to the spot when fighting a monster. There’s also the fact that I can put 10 bullets in a zombie before they meet their maker. There is a knife, but that will only get you so far. Or you could try running around them, grabbing what you want and legging it out of their as fast as your legs can carry you.
Visually, the game is looking pretty good and is a massive improvement over the previous pair, with character animation looking a bit odd when she walks or runs. Still a little robotic, but again, an improvement. There’s no booming soundtrack, and you’re left with ambient noises as you traverse the mansion.
Aside from the campaign, there’s also Battle Mode. Here, all doors are unlocked, and it’s a case of making a bee line for the exit. Sounds easy enough right? Well, it’s easy if you run past everything in sight and don’t stop to do battle with the undead and their cronies. You can still get caught up in a crowd and quickly dealt with yourself, so luring the zombies away from where you need to go is advisable.
Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles does a good job of improving upon the previous entries in the series and whilst it still has a couple of issues that prevent it from being a hit, it’s taking another step closer. It really does divide opinion with gamers, with some that like it and others that don't. While I don’t think these will appear in the upcoming chapters, I do hope to see more games in the series after this, and if a new camera perspective could be introduced to bring the game series into the modern era, I’m sure we will see an even better adventure. Only the developer knows what the future holds. If you are an achievement hunter, the list offers you a very easy completion with a small grind. You don't even have to complete the story.
Overall Score 7/10
Developer: Dead Drop Studios LLC
Publisher: Dead Drops Studios LLC
Release Date: 1st May 2018
File Size: 4.21GB
Xbox One copy provided for review purpose.
Available on Xbox One & Steam