As a big fan of the “Fatal Frame” series, I was really anxious to get my hands on “DreadOut”. I mean, c’mon…fighting ghosts with nothing but a camera? It may sound silly to the uninitiated, but those who have played “Fatal Frame” know better. “DreadOut” is a more modern-day version of “Fatal Frame” where the player takes on the role of Linda, a high school student trapped in an old abandoned town. Equipped only with a smart phone, she’ll (you’ll) be tasked with solving puzzles all the while fending off some really terrifying “creatures”. Before we get started, I’d like to thank Rachmad Imron from Digital Happiness for providing me with a free press copy.
“DreadOut” is both a first and third-person experience, allowing the user to switch off at will. In third-person view, you’ll have a bit more freedom to look and move around. I was impressed with the way I could pan the camera around my character in this view and I didn’t feel limited in any way. In first-person view, you’ll be able to dispatch ghosts and take pictures with your smart phone. Any pictures you take are saved to your gallery, should you enjoy amassing a collection of this sort. The camera auto-zooms a bit whenever you enter first-person mode, making aiming a bit awkward. Knowing when and how to switch between these two modes can mean life or death, figuratively speaking. There was a point in the story where I was simply running along in third-person view, totally ignoring the cues that something bad was going to happen. Had I stopped to look around in first-person, I would have seen the evil spirit (who was invisible in third-person view) floating there, waiting to do horrible things to me.
Along those lines, “DreadOut” is not a game to rush through. Depending on your comfort level with scary games, you’ll either be creeping along at a snail’s pace making sure there’s nothing waiting for you around the next bend, or you’ll shut the game off altogether for being too scared to play. Don’t poke fun at the latter crowd for there are PLENTY of people who can’t play “Slender” games because their nerves/bladder can’t handle it. For those of you considering this game as your next purchase, you should probably know that this game is possibly just as scary as “Outlast”. There aren’t as many intense, run-for-your-life moments as there are in “Outlast”, but they’re there. If you can’t “man up” and push on during those horrible moments, then “Dread Out” is not the experience for you. Parents should also note that there are mature themes, making its contents inappropriate for kids.
The ambience was pretty, but expect to spend a lot of time wandering about as you attempt to figure out what to do next. It reminded me of my “Resident Evil” days a bit…poor Leon must have explored every nook and cranny of that police station. Some sort of objective marker option that you could enable or disable would have been nice, though I can understand why most folks would probably leave that sort of thing off. Horror games like this are centered around exploration all the while scaring the pants off you in the process, so having an objective marker would probably add a degree of separation from that feeling. This act didn’t contain any dialogue choices and as such, it’s mostly an “A” to “B” to “C” game cloaked around an eerie atmosphere and challenging puzzles.
Since horror games are best watches or played as opposed to read about, I’ll opt to end the review here. Buying the game for fifteen bucks (the retail price as of 5/6/14) will grant you access to the first act, with DLC on the second act and a free roam mode to follow. My biggest gripe is that Act One is only about one and a half to two hours long, once you know what you’re doing. There’s only a handful of ghosts to boot. Just as I was getting into the first act, it was over…I didn’t have this problem with “Outlast”, which took between five to ten hours to complete. I was able to confirm with the developer that the second act will be free, though the free roam DLC will have a price tag. I was also able to confirm with the developer that the second act will contain more content than the first, so that helped to alleviate some of my concerns somewhat with regard to the price.
Besides the “buy Act One now and hope Act Two is more meaty” feeling, I did run into a bug or two. The game can also glitch out on occasion, forcing you to hard-quit and replay areas already beaten. One of my save files got corrupted and I had to erase it altogether. Still, “Dread Out” is an incredible and horrifying experience. There is a demo available via the links below should you wish to try before you buy. If you can’t get through the first minute of a “Slender” game without screaming like a little girl, then you may want to before dropping the dough.
Final Verdict: 7/10
You can learn more about and purchase “DreadOut” by visiting the following websites: