EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Amber Hall
previewed on PC
The Blackout Club is a co-op survival horror game currently in early access on Steam. You can play with friends or with strangers online, and there's even a story-driven prologue mission that acts as a fun and informative tutorial. As a lover of both co-op and horror games, this seemed like the perfect mash up for me. So let's get right into it and talk about what this early access title has in store thus far.
It's sometimes tempting to skip the prologue in video games because you know what to expect, generally speaking. For me, they tend to be a bit laborious and heavy-handed. Usually, the prologue in games is an easy skip because it has no real influence on the story or gameplay. And while skipping The Blackout Club 's tutorial prologue won't leave you too lost, I highly recommend playing through it. Because of the online co-op nature of the game, the story isn't going to really play a part in usual play. However, the prologue here is exactly the sort of thing that'll draw you into the game.
You begin as a teenager who has just finished recording a video which she hopes will expose some dark secret in her town. Her parents are away and so you find yourself alone in your dark house. Eventually, as you might expect from a survival horror game, things get weird and there are monsters to deal with. But these aren't the typical type of monsters you might expect. The first monster you encounter is simply called the "Shape." You can only see him when you close your eyes and, doing so, shows you a red-lit figure moving around the house, hunting you down.
Monsters and Items and Perks, Oh My!
Indeed, I was impressed with the monsters in The Blackout Club. Each deals with the senses and, in doing so, made me feel a sort of primal fear of them. There are Sleepers who are seemingly regular people who are sleepwalking. As a result they can't see, but you have to avoid making any sounds around them or they will capture you. Likewise, there's a monster called the Lucid who can see but cannot hear. And so, as you navigate through the tutorial, the game teaches you different ways to deal with each monster. There's a variety of items and actions the player can use to get by each monster in their own way.
Much like the monsters, I was also impressed with the type and variety of items at the player's disposal. There's "field items" which are just consumables that give you advantages such as bandages to heal and a special foam to silence your movements or lighten your fall when landed on. There are also a few "hero items" to use that grant distinct advantages and will be taken into each game. These include things like a grappling hook to let you climb anywhere and a stun gun to zap enemies with for an opportunity to escape. Couple these with class perks and minor skills that you can choose from and you have a bunch of ways to tackle any situation you come across.
The tutorial for this game was so good that I couldn't wait to jump into an online game. I assumed that the rest of the game would be kind of like Left 4 Dead but with more story, more stealth, and more mystery. In some ways it is and in some ways it isn't. It's much more stealth-focused than Left 4 Dead was, which I think is fantastic. It leaves a lot of moments hanging but in a way that builds the fear of the situation. It's a much slower experience that really expects you and your team to be communicating at all times.
The mystery is very much still there, but the story element is not nearly as strong as I had hoped it would be from the tutorial/prologue. At the start of each mission you get a bit of flavor text to explain the mission objective. Much like Left 4 Dead, you move through a map and deal with enemies and loot places for resources, completing a few objectives along the way until you reach the next safe house. At the end of the mission you gain XP which you can put toward unlocking more perks. At the end of each quest, there's a bit of a cutscene and that, along with the flavor text at the beginning of a mission, seems to be as far as it goes with story. Sadly, the gameplay in the prologue is a little misleading in this way, despite being extremely enjoyable.
Shaping Up to Be a Fantastic Game
The Blackout Club is in early access but I'm already wowed by what the game has to offer. The prologue is a lot of fun and I hope that, in the future, they consider adding a campaign mode that's played much like the tutorial. Despite the prologue and main gameplay being very different, the feeling of suspense is held well in either mode. And while I do wish the story elements of the game shined through a little more, it's only because what the prologue shows is so intriguing. The Blackout Club is a super promising game and I highly recommend you try it for yourself.
There are no guarantees - but we'd bet our own money on this one. If you're going to take a chance with yours, odds are good this one will deliver.