The Blackout Club is a new type of survival horror game as it has some unique features. With a focus on co-op teamwork, kids are exposed to mysterious happenings that go unnoticed by all the adults. Blind boogeymen hunt the kids and hypnotize the adults, trying to prevent the kids from exposing the terror overtaking a quiet suburban town. Definitely atmospheric, fans of co-op games and survival horror will probably get a few enjoyable hours out this. That is, if you can find a stable connection.
At launch, the Xbox One version is plagued with matchmaking issues. So much so, that it was impossible to jump into a single game which is a deal breaker since the entire premise is geared around online play. There has since been patches and updates to make the connected experience more stable.
Although the map never changes, it expands when missions are completed. There are also side objectives to complete and a whole underground cavern to explore with creative ways to navigate them like ledge grabbing and deafening the sound of falling. Players can customize the cosmetic look of their playable character, although options are very limited when first starting, as well as adjust some individual perks. It is also possible to choose from a few different starting items but it seems most players favor the taser as it can easily stun, not kill, most bad guys.
Perhaps the most unique feature of this $30 digital title doesn’t actually come from gameplay but from the players themselves. The first dialog box that appears before gameplay starts is the ability to opt-in for the game to record the player’s dialog, or more specifically, their screams so the devs can use it for PR purposes. Since the game has a focus of horror, with creepy monsters always on the hunt, the game is bound to generate a few jump scares. The creepiest part is that the player can only see certain horrors by closing their eyes. Seeing a door open for no reason, then pressing the button to close your eyes to witness a red shadow figure searching for you, is pretty unsettling.
Besides the wonky connection issues, The Blackout Club’s next let down comes from the visual style. Awkwardly caught somewhere between realistic and cartoony, there is nothing that stands out visually. Also, everything has this weird plasticy sheen, from parts of the environment to things that are interactive. The red and black eyes closed screen is pretty cool but it is difficult to navigate the breadcrumb foot prints since the closing eyes button is mapped to a face button but the player needs to use the right analog stick for directional movement. It is also a shame that the opening tutorial mission, with is rather lengthy, isn’t like the rest of the game. Instead of uncovering this huge mystery regarding creepy things happening at night, the plot is never forwarded since the player just completes the mission objectives over and over. There is also an emphasis on staying quiet, like crouch walking instead of normal walking, but then opening and closing doors don’t seem to have any effect on the creeper’s behavior.
For every one step forward, there seem to be two steps back. There are interesting moments but the overall structure, balance, and progression start to become tedious especially since unlockable perks don’t alter gameplay. There are interesting concepts here but many of them are not fully realized. Curious co-opers might want to hold off for a sale but the player base might be gone by then, just like your friend that was taken by the nightmares you are trying to avoid.
Not As Good As: L4D2
Wait For It: Borderlands 3
Also Try: Evolve