01/12/2020

๐ŸงŸ‍♂️ Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles | Review | Nintendo Switch | "claustrophobic, early survival horror tropes return" ๐ŸงŸ‍♂️ @deaddropstudios #GameDev #IndieGames

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Game Title: Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles

Developer: Dead Drop Studios LLC

Platform Reviewed: Switch 

Rating: 6/10

Having recently played the preceding titles in Dead Drop Studios LLC’s Outbreak series, I was keen to see how the third entry would play out. As it turns out, this is more akin to the first in the series – Outbreak: The New Nightmare – in that the fixed camera angles and more claustrophobic, early survival horror tropes return. 

This is a good thing, though, as the studio has improved on a lot of irritations from that early game, although some issues do remain.

Following the overarching narrative that flows through the series, you now play as Lydia. Separated from her fellow survivors, she seeks sanctuary in a huge mansion that is surrounded by the undead; 

will she make it out alive? 

Will she run out of ammo and have to punch zombies on the tits? 

Will she run out of floppy disks? 

Will Britt ever get bored of blasting a zombie at point-blank range with a shotgun?*

The game loses the split-screen capabilities that were present in the previous entries and this is clearly for the better as it makes it a much more focused game with smoother animation (aside from some outdoor segments which tank the frame-rate). 

Whereas The New Nightmare was set in sprawling labyrinthine areas – with awful, awful camera placement – The Nightmare Chronicles is far more compact and all the stronger for it. 

Lydia feels frail and lost and ammunition is to be cherished, as are the floppy disks that are required for game-saving, meaning that inventory space and weapon/health management is paramount to your survival. 

Another improved aspect of the game is the puzzles. Whilst there are still various keys to collect in order to progress, I enjoyed the sections where codes are required and can be found scattered in notebooks or hidden in the environment, it’s nothing new but they are very well implemented into the game and they don’t feel jarring or take focus away from the survival horror aspect. 

Camera angles are also mostly well-chosen here. The confined corridors; cold, underground walkways and ruined areas of the mansion are actually pretty atmospheric, with the off-screen sounds and tight camera placement work (mostly) in building up tension for what lies in the next room or lurks around the corner. 

That said there is still an irritation in combat when you are trying to get some space on an enemy and the camera continually flips, twisting your aiming so that the camera becomes a bigger enemy than the mutant zombie horde.

For all the tweaks and improvements, this remains a niche interest genre.

I like the number of options at your disposal, the great in-camera dust effect and how you can have old-school tank controls but the difficulty in the game sometimes comes from awkward design as opposed to the enemies themselves. 

This is clearly the strongest entry in the series and I’m looking forward to what comes next as the games appear to be getting incrementally better. 

If you have an interest in Dead Drop Studios’ output, I’d highly recommend using this game as your starting point as it is the most cohesive so far, although it’s not an entirely smooth ride.

*no, no he won’t.

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