Sometimes, I can only assume
some many games are inspired and created because someone got high.
I’m a straight gal – hardly drink, don’t smoke, never done drugs. That said, I think I would have probably enjoyed the game, Outcry, a lot more had I been high on illicit substances. A bizarre plot, unsettling imagery and a very dull and effing confusing gameplay make for the psychedelia that is Outcry.
Here is the synopsis of Outcry from the box it came in: ” Assume the role of a middle-aged writer who receives a strange invitation from his brother that he hasn’t seen in years. Accepting his invitation, you are soon confronted with his sudden disappearance and his connection to a mysterious machine which, according to your brother, (acts like a “toke-up” iron lung which releases the smoke from burning leaves of some hallucinogenic plant. Your bro gets high off the fumes and this) separates one’s consciousness from one’s body.” *
As you play, you discover that this mystery machine is nonsense B.S. because…
[SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!] (Highlight the area below with your mouse to reveal)
<ahem> As I interpret it…YOU are actually dead (you drowned when you were a child) and your bro is trying to channel you. He feels guilt about the drowning and wants to turn back time, so he creates the machine…which is a total waste of resources when all he needs to do is contact his weed dealer, put it in his pipe and light up. None of this makes any sense to what goes on in the plot especially when you (who is supposedly dead) interact with live characters in the game.
[END OF SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS]
The Good: Vivid imagery. Haunting score. Made me say “whoa” a few times.
The Bad: Everything else. Shitty plot, confusing gameplay, oddly syntaxed English.
The Good, redux: Good for getting a buzz on. Pass that pipe over here…
Outcry is a first-person adventure game. You move around the scene with a mouse click from room to room, pick up objects and solve confusing puzzles as you go along. You do not speak, and there is no internal monologue to tell you whether what you are doing and where you are going is the right thing. Your brother’s narration is front and center as he reads you every word of every journal and scrap of paper that you pick up (and there are about a dozen of them, so better get comfortable).
With all this dialogue, I would have thought I would get a clue what was going on. Alas, something continuously got lost in translation as this brother’s English tried to be esoterically formal, but frankly failed as he would change his tense on a dime and some of the wording used was just…odd English. Weirder still, the narrator was obviously English-speaking…why he wouldn’t say to the developers, “Hey, Dude with the bunny eyes: that doesn’t sound right!” is beyond me. The gameplay confused me and the narration did not help. Playing this game in tandem with a walkthrough early on was the only way I could keep playing Outcry because I was LOST in the forest without a sandwich, man!
The visuals in Outcry were psychedelic, bizarre and extremely unsettling…yet, very well done. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought I was playing a survival horror game. You play in this sepia-coloured world for the most part that has that faux “scratched film-reel” look. The game’s camera would constantly move you back and forth – you never stood still – which added to the unsettled psychedelic element. Backgrounds would also move on their own, so shit was moving all over the place in a wavy continuum which disturbed me. However, Outcry‘s gameplay itself was so…dull. Disturbed, yet dull; Interesting juxtaposition, isn’t it?
I obviously don’t recommend Outcry as a game to play for straight enjoyment. Make sure you have a little “something” to take the edge off if you find yourself a copy. Hey, as they say: if you got ’em, smoke ’em!
Developer: Phantometry / The Adventure Company
*What is in parentheses is what I wrote to simplify the plot for you.
*Originally reviewed in March 2014, reduxed 2016.