Reviewed: November 10, 2008
Released: September 3, 2008
Adventure titles and the genre in general have been knocked over the past few years for not bringing anything new to the world of gaming. But whether that is the case or the fact that some companies would rather dismiss the genre all together, there are some amazing titles out there.
Outcry, an adventure title originally in Russia under the name ďSublustrumĒ, wins several awards in Russia and has arrived on American shores on the 3rd of September. I am glad it did since this is one of the greatest adventure titles Iíve ever played since The Longest Journey. Itís been over 8 years since that title released and very few titles live up to it.
While I will admit that Outcry doesnít have the scale that The Longest Journey did but it does have a wickedly cool presence. You the player control a middle age writer who has recently received a strange invitation to visit his brother, who is a professor of some sorts. Upon arriving at his residence you find that your brother is missing and a giant chamber device in his living room.
Outcry is an adventure title presented in first person perspective like so many other titles in this genre. In it you get to explore several locations most of which are located in the surreal world created from the thoughts of your eccentric brotherís mind.
The interface of Outcry is a fairly simple one. All item and environmental interaction is done with the left mouse button. Right clicking allows access to the items you pick up along the way as well as the copies of the slew of documents that you will encounter on this haunting and surreal trip.
Unlike most adventure titles, where your view is limited to whatís right in front of you in static screens, Outcry features a 360-degree viewing from every position. While this is an awesome feature it has one major drawback, which was occasionally frustrating, clues that are overhead or below can often be overlooked. Not that it happened often as I tend to look everywhere in these types of titles after years of playing them.
Besides the overlooking items drawback Outcry does do something that I actually liked. Outcry features a shutter effect to emulate an actual person walking to a destination. It just adds a bit of realism to the already creepy experience. This effect can be turned off for those who don't like the effect but that kills part of the fun.
Outcry features an interesting story that is compelling yet lost here and there. You are constantly learning of your brotherís progress on his inventions and research. Later on you learn more about the relationship between you and your brother via notes and imagery scattered throughout reality and beyond.
The puzzles in Outcry range from the simple item combinations to finding clues hidden with in the volumes of notes and documents and figuring out various puzzles and finally a sound puzzle (remember MYST) to round out the puzzles. There are even instances where time travel is possible to skip back in time to fix problems in the current time.
All of the puzzles in Outcry are well planned save one that even had me scratching my forehead for a while. The reason that that one particular puzzle and a few others took me a while is that they seem to make no logical sense at all or the clues needed to figure out a puzzle is buried under a mountain of papers. The circuit puzzle in the desert is the one puzzle that makes no sense once completed. Youíre supposed to create a circuit of sorts but that you end up with is far from one.
The one thing that you realize very quickly is that Outcry is a very atmospheric title. In the earlier stages of this adventure, the players view is treated to a look that reminded me a lot of Silent Hill 4: The Room. The overall rust covered paint peeling residence of your brothers is simply creepy.
To add to the surreal and often creepy feel of Outcry, the developers added a bunch of visual tricks along the way. While in the professorís abode I was treated to sepia toned visuals complete with an old film grainy look that even skips a bit just like an old film. The lighting in the old house also looks awesome as it shines and ebbs through boarded up and dusty windows.
Each location has its own color scheme including black and white which is seen in the time travel moments. Each location also has a visual effect that hovers on the out side of the players view. This serves to constrict the players viewing angle and to mimic the area in which you are. For example if you are in the Shimmering World the edges of the screen glow a whitish blue and the edges of the desert world waver like the heat of the Sahara.
The Harp Tower is perhaps my favorite location in the whole adventure. Compared to the rest of the rest of the adventure, The Harp Tower is the most beautiful piece of machinery in the surreal world. The tower its self is all metallic but yet has this plant like motif to it.
Outcry has an excellent score that is both haunting and sophisticated. The mix of piano and violin music is simply dreadful, in a good way though. This title also adds a bit of what sounds like Russian music pours out of a gramophone later on in the adventure.
The sound effects are also a high point of Outcry. The sounds of the main character walking across various terrains are all unique to their location and the sounds of phones and even the Harp are well done indeed. The only thing that really ruins this perfectly good title in the sound department is the voice actor who speaks the dialogue written in the professorís journals and notes. This title is a Russian creation so it would also stand to reason why there is also a bit of translation issues to be had as well.
Outcry took me nearly 7 or so hours to complete which is not bad despite the frustrating puzzle or too. This title has no real replay value other than its pure haunting tale. The puzzles are logical but they get progressively troublesome as you get further into the adventure. However Outcry is well worth the try with its $20 dollar price tag.
All in all, I rather enjoyed Outcry. I am a fan of these types of titles and Outcry is one of the best adventure titles that Iíve ever played in recent history. Sure I enjoy it more for its graphical and sound qualities, but itís still an amazing title. I recommend this title to any gamer seeking to see something a little different and at $20 dollars itís still worth a try.