by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Visuals and Audio are superb
Visually, Outcry is a case of Jeckyll and Hyde. The visuals themselves are quite outstanding, with almost photorealistic quality. The early-game art style of a sepia cinema characteristic suits the game perfectly. The let down comes in the character motion. As the character moves from place to place, the visuals have a still motion feel about them and are certainly a let-down compared to the fine scenes. The locations could use more variation as well. Although (spoiler alert) there are scenes set in different time periods, the locations are the same for the first half of the game. And after that, the visuals begin to become dull and monotonous. Certainly this fits in nicely with the storyline, but some colour here and there could have helped.
Audio is the shining light for Outcry. As mentioned above, the music totally immerses the gamer into the game with the sinister tones used. It is the music in the most part that gives the feeling that something is sure to jump out at you at any moment. The speech (or should I say, narrations) in the game are also high quality, especially considering that this game was developed by a Russian developer. The voice acting is clear, easy to understand and makes complete sense – there is no Engrish here. Sound effects such as footsteps, doors opening and telephone rings are fairly standard but do an admirable job.
Many of the puzzles can easily be solved by reading (or in some cases, re-reading) the diary notes and journals. And many of the early puzzles are fairly simple and straightforward, requiring the gamer to search for items and use them in a specific way. But that is of course while the story makes sense. Once the locations and plotline begin to become peculiar, the puzzles seem to become more perplexing as well.
The game interface is simple enough, with the inventory being displayed on the bottom of the screen and journals and diary notes displayed at the top. Both can be hidden if you so desire. Moving around is simple enough, by clicking where you would like to go, assuming that there is the option to travel there. In this regard, the game is simplified, as you can only go where there are important items to pick up or to interact with. The mouse pointer changes when something can be interacted with.
So, in conclusion
Overall, Outcry does a great job of setting up a paranormal atmosphere, and for the most part the story is quite convincing. The music and art style initially work extremely well in doing so. But as the game progresses and the story and puzzles become somewhat contrived, the ambience set up by the music and visuals slowly fades. Indeed, the first part of the game had me captivated like a good novel, wanting to find out what happens next. But as Outcry progresses, you begin to think “What is my character doing here?” The superb music and graphics can only do so much. With a stronger storyline towards the endgame, Outcry could have performed so much better.
Audio is brilliant and combined with the artistic visuals, work extremely well in setting the tone of the story.
Storyline and puzzles become strange and contrived towards the end of the game.