The horror genre is a very sensitive one, since even the smallest design mistakes can ruin the entire atmosphere and cause the game to fail. On the other hand, it is also possible to obtain a truly terrifying game with very simple elements, because, as long as they are used in a clever way, it doesn't take too much to scare the players.
An Asian story about a haunted town
DreadOut is a survival-horror developed by an indie studio, with the sole purpose of giving you nightmares and making you feel uneasy in dark places. As is the case with this type of games, a huge emphasis has been put on simple, yet effective mechanics to obtain the desired result, without the need to include an expensive graphics engine or impressive character animations, but rather on small gimmicks that make a huge different during the gameplay.
To start off with, the story takes place somewhere in East Asia, where a bunch of students stumble upon a haunted town and decide it would be a good idea to explore it. Naturally, all hell breaks loose and the apparitions that reside in town have their way with the young and reckless teenagers in the most gruesome ways imaginable. Throughout the game, you play as a girl by the name of Linda, who must find her way back to her friends and defeat a few ghosts on the way there.
Inspired level design, sprinkled with jump scares
As far as the actual atmosphere and the level design is concerned, the environment has received a lot of attention, although it is a bit linear and way too narrow, mostly due to the invisible walls that restrict your movements. However, this also makes for some pretty intense jump scares, especially since they happen at random intervals and the ghosts are designed quite well. In addition, you have to use a cellphone in order to light your way ahead, as well as employ the camera to get a better look at your surroundings, or gather clues about the town.
However, the game suffers from some pretty annoying mistakes as well, as well as many bugs that hurt the experience along the way. In addition, each time your character dies, you are transported somewhere between the two words and you have to run toward the light in order to return to the living world and continue playing. The annoying thing is that you have to run longer and longer the more you die, which means that you'll be running for quite some time toward the end of the game.
An almost good horror experience
In the end, DreadOut has its fair share of good elements, but they don't always work as they should and you are often bored, rather than scared. In addition, the graphics could have used a bit more work, since they are vital in maintaining the atmosphere, especially when it comes to lighting and textures.