This game had been a long awaited game for some of us. It was mysterious and somewhat haunting at the same time. You can play with friends and try to figure out what is happening to the people around you. How about a Shape that will come and find you in the dark? Does this excite you? It all did and as a group my friends and I were thrilled when we got a chance to finally play the game. The Blackout Club by Indie developer Question promised to be something unique in the horror genre. Could it live up to the hype? I would like to talk about some of the game mechanics but more importantly what the game meant to this group of four friends.
The Blackout club opens with you playing as a young girl who has been curious about the happenings in her town. This plays out like a tutorial and is quite lengthy for an introduction into the game. At the end of it the young girl is taken and this sets the core game in motion. Once completed you and your friends can join together in hidden train cars and form your club of investigators. This is basically what the game is centered on, investigating the town and finding evidence of not only what is going on but also what happened to your friend.
In the train car is where you will gear up for your night out of investigating. Each member can choose from three different items such as a stun gun, a grapping hook and a crossbow. While I used all three items my preferred item was the stun gun which allowed you to break free from the possessed town’s people. The grapping hook is for hard to reach places and the crossbow allows you to shoot tranquilizer darts. Admittedly we didn’t use the other two often as the stun gun comes in handy. You can also upgrade in the train car with minor or major powers. This will be things such as better takedowns, more stamina, or even being able to equip a drone that is used for distraction. There are plenty of powers to work on and the more you play the more you will gain experience points to round out your character.
The train car holds other things as well such as a place to customize your character bulletin boards and the town map where you choose your next mission location. There is a train car where you can take ritual items and have your own séance of sorts. I received one item and as I spoke my ritual nothing happened so good luck with those. Once you choose your mission all players must exit the train car in order for the mission to start. The name of the game might be The Blackout Club but in reality it’s all about stealth. You want to sneak around town gathering evidence all while leaving as little evidence yourself. The more “Sins” you leave around town the more attention you will draw. Kicking in doors or being spotted by someone is absolutely the things you want to avoid.
The missions can be anything from taking a few photos to putting up posters all over the place. It can be repetitive and while the underground tunnel system helps break up the monotony it doesn’t change the overall experience of doing the same thing. While the main town people cannot see and act on sound there are those that can see you. Avoid them at all costs. You can break free from them but get hit enough times and they will start to drag you away. You can still get loose by picking up an object nearby but this is last resort. Where are they taking you? To see the Shape of course. Once the Shape is hot on your trail things get a little dicey. The Shape will chase you one at a time and it will let you know who it is coming after. This is definitely where the game shines as it creates for some tense moments. If the Shape catches you then your character becomes one of them but that doesn’t mean it is game over. Your friends can locate you and wake you up. That is of course if the Shape doesn’t get them first. If all of you are caught then it is game over. Running out of sheer terror has never been so funny. Well…
An added wrinkle to the game is the Stalkers that can join your session. That is correct, other players can sneak into your game and try to spot you and if they do it enough the whole damn town will come after you. Okay maybe not the entire town but it certainly feels that way. Don’t fret though as you can capture the Stalker and send him packing. I only got a few chances to play as the Stalker as you need to earn dossiers and I had a hard time earning them. It is a fun mode and it was always exciting when one entered our session. Of course you need to be playing with multiple friends in order for this to happen which isn’t a bad idea and I’ll tell you why in a moment.
While playing The Blackout Club it will ask you to turn on “Enhanced horror” which is essentially your voice being recorded. This allows the developers to use a very unique function of the game and that is to actually have people speak to you. Of course they are in character and it’s usually shrouded in mystery as to what is actually going on. That is of course only what I have heard because I have never experienced one of these happenings. In the game you can close your eyes and see footprints as where to go next or see the Shape as it chases you but one thing that is even scarier is you will see messages at times. I don’t know if this is the “Enhanced Horror” or if it is just part of the game but it is incredibly creepy. I’ve seen messages such as “Say goodbye to Hale” which is one of my friends or something like “Do you really think you are a legend? We think not” How freaking creepy is that?
There are many of facets to the game but the one thing I need to talk about, nay something I must talk about is the heart and soul of The Blackout Club. This is the friend factor of the game. Playing this game solo just doesn’t cut it in my opinion. When I said it was a good idea to have multiple friends in order for the Stalker to be able to join your sessions, this is why. Alone you will rarely succeed and when you do it doesn’t feel as satisfying. Quoting Tony my brother, “The Blackout club is an interesting concept game that is thankfully co-op because the jump scares need to be heard by others for the comedic effect.” This rings so true in the game. At the core, the horror aspect is fantastic. It causes suspense, terror but it also gives you hilarious moments with your friends as someone runs screaming from the Shape.
A great moment in the game was when my buddy Andrew and I thought we had the perfect plan. We found a way to get above everything underground and avoid all the people below. We also thought the Shape couldn’t follow us. As our plan began to work we could do nothing but brag about how smart of an idea we had come up with. Unfortunately for us the Shape didn’t find this tactic amusing and found a way to get to us. Unbeknownst to us he had made his way behind us and that is when hilarity ensued. We could do nothing but scream and run as we fell off to the ground to our demise.
Andrew had this to say, “All in all The Blackout Club was a great game with the right amount of suspense. It was fun to play with friends but impossible by yourself. F**k the Shape!” If that doesn’t sum it up then I don’t know what else could.
This is the awesome thing about the game. If you and your friends enjoy playing together then this is perfect. It brings out so much of that aspect of multiplayer gaming but with a slight twist. Another friend of mine Hale had this to say, “The Blackout Club is fun to play and having the Shape chase you around is part of the fun. There are different things you can use to escape the Shape but if you play by yourself it is damn near impossible (see the theme here). That is where you and your buddy comes into play as they can snap you out of your sleep walk. The mechanics of the game are done well and if the shape isn’t enough there are speed traps that will set off an alarm. You can disarm them by creeping up to them or you can throw foam on them. There are drones to worry about as well but you can avoid them with good timing. Time it wrong though and you’ll wish you hadn’t. Get caught by the sleep walkers and they will alert the Shape and that is if the Stalker invading your game doesn’t do it first. If the Shape is alerted good luck with completing the objectives, you can but you better be fast.”
You can’t ask for much more enthusiasm. If you enjoy suspense and laughs at the same time then talk your friends into picking up the game. Beware…I don’t recommend going it alone.
The Blackout Club is a mysterious horror game that I hope Question continues to improve upon. The character models and town are done well and even a few minor bugs doesn’t distract you from the core gameplay. Intense moments that leads to hilarious moments is what keeps the game fresh in every play through. Without this the game would unfortunately get stale and boring. Having to play with friends is rewarding but also frustrating at times. If you could play as the Stalker more often perhaps this would help but it feels like a grind to obtain. There is a ton of aspects that will keep people playing this game and the “Enhanced horror” is something unique. With friends the game is great, without, not so much. I would recommend playing this game if you intend on playing it with a group.
Rating: 8.5/10 (Great)
A copy of the game was provided for the PS4.