Thwacke, a group of researchers and scientists providing insights to the gaming industry, and Red Barrels, an independent game developer based in Montreal, have announced a partnership through which Thwacke is contributing real-world data on mental illness and how humans experience terror to create an authentic survival-horror experience in Outlast, set in the Mount Massive Insane Asylum.
“The survival horror genre has seen many changes over the years, but the core is always a cerebral experience that capitalizes on anxiety and startles the player,” said Dr. Maral Tajerian Ph.D., neuroscientist and pain researcher. “Due to the background of certain patients in the Outlast asylum, there are a lot of interesting behaviors that could be unsettling to a player. We believe there is tremendous space to help Red Barrels get creative beyond portraying asylum patients as thugs.”
“By providing us with research and insights on criminally-insane patients, as well as historical asylum layouts and techniques, Thwacke is helping us make Outlast’s gameplay both scary and scientifically grounded,” said Philippe Morin, Red Barrels co-founder. “The more grounded it is, the more believable the world we’re building will be.”
The traditionally oppressive atmosphere of an asylum did not typically start and end with the mentally ill; another factor was the often-questionable research carried out by asylum caretakers. In order to immerse the player in this atmosphere, the team at Red Barrels has taken full advantage of history by translating several aspects of real-world research facilities into Outlast, which will have a demo available at PAX East.
“We think with an accurate depiction of facilities, we’ll be able to explain more methods to the madness happening in Outlast,” added Kevin Neibert, pharmacologist.
“They’ve been a seemingly bottomless font of everything I need for this story: psychoses, paranoia, and violent perversion,” said J.T. Petty, Outlast scriptwriter. “With their experience in psychology and emerging technologies, Thwacke has brought the ideas we reveal frighteningly close to the realm of the possible.”
In the remote mountains of Colorado, horrors wait inside Mount Massive Asylum. A long-abandoned home for the mentally ill, recently re-opened by the “research and charity” branch of the transnational Murkoff Corporation, has been operating in strict secrecy… until now. Acting on a tip from an inside source, independent journalist Miles Upshur breaks into the facility, and what he discovers walks a terrifying line being science and religion, nature and something else entirely. Once inside, his only hope of escape lies with the terrible truth at the heart of Mount Massive.