Title: The Blackout Club
Available on: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Developer: Question LLC
Publisher: Question LLC
Genre: First-Person Co-op Horror
Version Tested: PS4
Official Site: The Blackout Club
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Something’s Rotten In Redacre
It takes something really special to make a horror game work. When The Blackout Club starts, it has promise as one of the creepiest games released in the last few years. Unfortunately, once a player gets past the prologue, the co-op features don’t offer enough up to follow through on its massive premise.
There’s something wrong in the city of Redacre. The adults don’t seem to notice that people are going missing, giving the title a Silent Hill kinda vibe. The ones that go missing tend to be kids. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out where everyone is going.
In order to set the mood for what follows, the opening scenes are all single player. You take the helm as a young girl, home alone on a night when your parents are out to dinner. Slowly but surely, weirdness ensues just as darkness begins to settle in. Soon enough, you realize that there is truly something ominous going on in your home town.
The prologue is there to do two things. The first is to set the mood. Considering developers from the BioShock series, as well as Dishonored, have created The Blackout Club, the mood is set quite effectively. The second purpose of the single-player prologue is to show you the mechanics of the game, which includes closing your eyes.
This is a neat little touch that adds to the creep factor in a number of ways. When the character closes their eyes, previously unseen items and messages will appear. There’s also the anticipation of what will be nearby when you open your eyes again. Unfortunately, the creep factor almost disappears once you are wandering the rest of the world.
Meeting The Blackout Club
After finishing the prologue, players are inserted into a kind of clubhouse where other users can now join in the fun. This is also where the game starts to signal it’s not going to really follow through on its initial promise. The protagonists are a group of kids, all trying to unravel the mystery inside The Blackout Club. The problem is it’s never quite spelled out where the kids came from, how they know each other or why they’re suddenly working together.
There isn’t a long story or cutscene that explains this. You’re simply inserted into the group (if you’re playing online with others) or talk to them remotely through a walkie-talkie if you’re playing alone. The devs did a good job of giving the whole thing a Stranger Things vibe but in the end, it’s not quite enough to make the game as good as it could be. Once out in the world, you’ll have small missions to carry out.
These missions include going into homes and finding clues. All the while you’re going to want to dodge the “sleepwalkers” as well as drones that hover over Redacre. As you dodge and weave across the maps, you’re racking up “sin”. Gather enough sin, usually by getting spotted by walkers (not The Walking Dead type walkers, thankfully), and something quite a bit worse will come to get you. This is when closing your eyes will help. It’s the only time you can see the big bad coming and hopefully escape.
Sleepwalking Through The Story
The mechanics and gameplay in The Blackout Club are fun enough. Dodging the walkers, or sometimes fighting them with an array of weapons is fun on its own. It’s the kind of game players can jump into, play a quick round and jump out.
The story and setup are original enough that it’s enticing to want to continue on. Continuing on just isn’t going to have the payoff one would hope from what was hinted at in the prologue. The stealth components leave something to be desired as well. At times, it can be unclear just why someone has seen or heard you coming. Other times it feels like you rang the dinner bell and yet you’re undetected. Having uneven stealth elements is nothing new. Video games have been having a hard time perfecting them for years. However, their imperfections are more noticeable when they’re such a big part of the game.
Because The Blackout Club‘s emphasis is on the multiplayer component, the story is metered out at a disjointed pace. And knowing that, it’s hard to be creeped out once the multiplayer action starts out.
Fun To Be Had
The Blackout Club has its problems. However, there are aspects of the game that make it quite entertaining. Run around the game’s maps long enough and you find yourself taking on the role of a troublemaking kid. Taking down the rather creepy establishment is always fun. It just seems the game could have been so much more.
It feels as though developers had two different ideas for the game. In the end, they had a hard time merging those ideas. If The Blackout Club had stuck to a single player story about a creepy town, it’s possible it would be one of the best games of 2019. The opening scenes are that creepy.
If the game centered exclusively on running around town and collecting items, it would work as well. Being unable to decide what The Blackout Club is, holds the game back.
Verdict: The Blackout Club appears to be two games in one and neither one on its own is good enough to get a great grade. There’s so much promise packed in somewhere. It just never stands up to be counted.
- The prologue is one of the best horror games out there
- Mechanics feel good
- Original story
- The story leaves a lot to be desired after the prologue
- Repetitive tasks