The Outlast Trials

More info »

The Outlast Trials review
Dan Lenois


A moderately-enjoyable thrill ride, held back by rampant bugs and a repetitive formula

Outlast as a franchise is no stranger to tonal and genre shifts in between entries. The original Outlast strongly relied on excessive body horror to cover up what was otherwise a fairly tedious and vanilla escape room simulator. Outlast 2 spiced things up slightly by introducing a more cohesive story, improving enemy AI, and fleshing out the mechanics so as to be more responsive. The Outlast Trials takes things one step farther by stepping away from the previously singleplayer-only format in favour of a cooperative multiplayer formula. However, such a transition comes with it a certain degree of growing pains, the likes of which Early Access has not entirely managed to address.

Rinse and Repeat...

There's no way around it. The Outlast Trials's biggest flaw by far is its inexcusably poor amount of playable content. To present The Outlast Trials as a full 1.0 release of an early access game is a vulgar insult to that vast multitude of other early access games, all of which took the long, hard, and oftentimes even unrewarding road of self-improvement.

In the span of nearly a year in sustained early access, The Outlast Trials have added two new maps, bringing the total from three maps to five, with one map releasing in October 2023, and the newest being added as part of the 1.0 launch.

Other than this, the developers' idea of early access content consisted of adding a few social minigames in the lobby, making a few balance changes, and producing new cosmetics. The Outlast Trials at its early access launch was little more than a high-quality paid game demo. However, as with all early access game, final judgement has been mostly reserved for its full version.

Diehard fans have pointed to the optional challenge missions one may undertake after initially completing each map, arguing that you haven't really beaten the game unless you also repeatedly grind these side missions X number of times. However, by that logic, no one can ever truly say they've finished the main campaign of The Witcher 3 or any other RPG unless they've 100% completed every trivial side mission and activity in the world.

Another argument voiced has been that if you play through The Outlast Trial's maps half a dozen or so times over, you get a playthrough length approximately 6 or so hours in length, that of the first two Outlast games. However likewise if you take that logic and just play through either of the first two games half a dozen times, you get an experience that's almost 40 hours, so either way, the math isn't mathing here.

Gameplay meets Art...

The Outlast Trials' biggest saving grace is hands-down its art direction. Each and every map feels completely unique from the rest. Probably one of the main reasons I am admittedly so irritated with Red Barrel's insistence on skimping by with only providing the bare minimum number of maps needed to distinguish The Outlast Trials from a free Steam Next Fest demo is because the maps that are currently in the game are so unbelievably spectacular.

There is so much love and passion poured into every facet of the layouts, the models, the lighting, the physics, the mission objectives, and so many other factors that work together in mostly-relative harmony. There are moments where you will almost certainly stop to drink in the sights, the sounds, and the...well, maybe not the smells, because nothing good will come of that in those locales.

Customization is key...for some reason...

Of all the hills to die on, I'm not sure why customizing one's bedroom was the feature that needed so high an emphasis in what is otherwise supposed to be a survival-horror game. The Outlast Trials tonally never really finds its footing, unlike prior games.

Almost all its aspects, its level design, its antagonists, its social features, its overpowering focus on cosmetic unlocks, it all really tries to be upbeat and silly, in contrast to the brutal violence both explicit and implicit all around you.

The problem is if you're supposed to be laughing at everything during missions, and also treating it like an innocent RP simulator while in a lobby, you don't find yourself scared. And what's the point of labelling yourself a horror game when most of your early access has been spent whipping up room textures and assets so unreasonably bright and colourful that they look like misplaced assets from Warner Bros' Barbie film?

Some additional polish required...

To list off all the individually-minor but collectively-irritating flaws that comprise The Outlast Trials. Communication tools like indication pings aren't contextual. You need to manually scroll through a number of basic and oftentimes irrelevant options in order to mark items or places for your teammates.

Compare this with say Overwatch 2, where, for all its flaws, you can press a single button to indicate something, and depending on where exactly the marker is placed, the game will know you're marking an enemy, an item, etc., and will even provide related voice lines. Here, you basically have to fill out the equivalent of a Google Forms sheet in order to explain in inaccurate detail what you're trying to point to.


I was fairly positive when I first previewed The Outlast Trials back in 2023, believing it to have some potential, despite its entirely-unreasonable and unjustified $30 price point. That potential, sadly, has not yet been fully realized by its developers, many of whom are nevertheless clearly passionate about the game and its community. I had the pleasure of interacting with a few developers (yes, looking at you, Hugo Richard, who stared at me menacingly from under the stairs in the lobby as I went AFK to check Discord, giving me a hilarious mild jumpscare upon re-opening the game window,) which backs up the studio's position that they are not just developers, but players themselves.

As is the case with most other players, I genuinely want to see The Outlast Trials improve with time, something I am sure the developers agree with in principle as well. Where they and I must differ is in our priority for said changes.

They appear to prefer focusing on cosmetics, new optional challenges, and implementing new social activities, whereas I prefer more core maps and a darker tone, truer of what Outlast has, up until now, been defined by. Whatever the future may hold for The Outlast Trials, one can only hope that they strive to find a more definitive balance between these two disparate directions.

As always, follow us on Instagram for news updates, reviews, competitions and more.


fun score


Stunningly-detailed maps with unique art styles, compelling mission objectives, challenging enemies


Wildly inconsistent thematic tones, limited content offering, lackluster communication tools, etc.