The Outlast Trials – A Disturbing Psychological Survival Horror

The Outlast Trials - Key Art

“Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against fundamental laws of nature such as self-preservation?” – CIA Document, Project ARTICHOKE


The Outlast Trials is a co-operative (or single-player) survival horror set within the Murkoff Facility in which players must undertake a series of gruesome trials.

Developer: Red Barrels
Released: 5th March 2024
Price: £30.99 – £33.50

Platforms: Windows, Xbox One/ Series X|S, PS4/5
Available on: Steam, Epic, Microsoft, PlayStation
Engine: Unreal Engine 5

NOTE: This game includes regular depictions of violence, religious imagery, scenes with sexual connotations and offensive language.

The Outlast Trials Screenshot - Objectives


The Outlast Trials is set in the Cold War era and sees “volunteers” forcibly recruited to assist the Murkoff Corporation aiming to test advanced methods of brainwashing and mind control. Recruits are put through a series of horrific and psychologically damaging trials and challenges, branded as therapy, to earn their release. The narrative is told largely through the gameplay itself but there is a short introduction and reports and evidence can be found throughout the trials to illuminate the situation further.


Gameplay in The Outlast Trials is adrenaline-fueled and gripping, offering a moderate amount of variety. The main activities are the trials and MK challenges which can be completed either solo or as a co-op group of up to four people. There are some advantages to working as a team in that objectives can be divided and completed quicker, enemies can be distracted allowing another to make progress, and tasks can be multitasked instead of a lone player having to approach them one at a time. As a solo player, trials can take upwards of one hour to complete, requiring a lot of stealth and hiding to avoid detection and subsequent attacks.

The Outlast Trials Screenshot - Graded Trial

Trials and challenges will take place within a closed setting. Objectives such as finding keys or executing a snitch must be completed whilst avoiding a plethora of gruesome enemies that can find the player using sight and sound, although most will not spot the player if they are crouched in the dark. At first, there is no real way to attack or defend against most enemies but as more trials and challenges are successfully completed, tickets are earned, and rigs and RX items become available to purchase from the engineer and pharmacy. There are four rigs available, allowing the player to stun or blind the enemy, x-ray to detect enemies and heal themselves. These can also be upgraded with tickets. RX items include regeneration, slide, and instant use of found items, amongst others, and once purchased are permanently active.

There are plenty of helpful items to find within each location, such as medicine, batteries to power night vision, antidotes to cure psychosis, lockpicks, and adrenaline, as well as throwable items such as bricks and bottles. These are lost upon death but can be retrieved from the location at which the player was killed. Each trial only permits a certain number of deaths before it is considered failed meaning it is important to avoid enemies as much as possible. Fortunately, there are plenty of lockers, bins and other places in which to effectively hide. It is also important to be wary of booby-trapped doors and locked items as these can inflict psychosis or cause damage. As a solo player, the enemies can feel overly relentless, requiring a lot of running and hiding, detracting from the task at hand. This potentially feels more balanced if playing co-operatively.

The Outlast Trials Screenshot - Cell Customisation

Each trial or MK challenge offers a variety of rewards including money which can be spent on character and cell customisations. This adds an element of personalisation to the lobby area in which players can also challenge each other to a game of chess or an arm wrestle. There are a variety of trails available – core, advanced and extreme, as well as weekly challenges, meaning there is plenty of content. Each trial is also graded, adding some replayability for those who wish to improve upon their previous performance.


The Outlast Trials utilises a realistic 3D art style in muted colours with occasional pops of vibrancy and extremely atmospheric and ominous lighting. The gory and sometimes psychedelic imagery can be quite shocking with its visceral portrayal of blood, entrails, and deformed and horrific enemies. The music is very minimal and often diegetic, used in a simple way to add to the creepy nature of the game. Sound effects are implemented well, with disturbing squelching carnage, monstrous cries and calls, and fear-inducing footsteps. The overall aesthetic is distinctly unsettling, portraying nightmarish scenes and events without restraint.

The Outlast Trials Screenshot - Trial


The Outlast Trials is a great example of an immersive survival horror experience. It has a lot to offer including its realistic and gruesome visuals, unsettling sound design, disturbing narrative, and exciting gameplay. It is original in its concept and its portrayal, with a variety of terrifying enemies, unethical and gory tasks, and distinctly unnerving atmosphere. The experience is undoubtedly emotive, evoking anxiety and fear in a creative and fun way. The game’s cost is very reasonable considering there is plenty of content and some level of replayability. Overall, this is a fantastically horrific experience, and I would highly recommend it to fans of all things scary!

If you enjoy horror games, you might also like these reviews:
Oxide Room 104 – Survival horror in a spooky ‘abandoned’ motel!Martha is Dead – Disturbing New Psychological HorrorThe Backrooms 1998 – Found Footage Survival Horror Game

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