The Blackout Club is a first-person horror game published and developed by Question that draws from stories like Stranger Things and IT. People have been blacking out with no recollection of what they’ve been doing at night, other than the fact that they wake up covered in dirt. Below the small town of Redacre, something sinister is happening and it’s up to you and your friends to find out what’s going on and save the day (of course). If you’ve ever wanted to start your own Loser’s Club, this game was made for you.
The game begins with a quick tutorial/prologue that has you in control of a teenager named Bells. Her parents are out and you’re stuck at home because you’re grounded. All alone, you go downstairs to watch TV, but things take a turn for the worst. I won’t spoil anything, but it sets up an interesting premise and game mechanic that in order to see the supernatural, you have to close your eyes.
Once you’ve finished the prologue, you can create your character, which has limited options for each section (shirt, pants, hair). After you’ve customized yourself, you’re introduced to your base of operations, which is an abandoned train car. This abandoned train car is where you’ll be spending the majority of your time in between missions. You can check journal entries, equip different abilities, select your Hero Item (Taser, Grappling Hook, or Crossbow) to take with you during a mission, learn about the various gadgets you’ll find while you’re out on your missions, and purchase cosmetic items such as clothes or dance emotes with candy you earn from missions because… why not.
Each mission will have you infiltrating a specific part of the town. There are houses you can sneak into on the street level, but down below in the underground, this is where the enemy base is, and you’ll have to go in there more often than you’d like to. It’s a maze of ladders, tunnels, and high-tech equipment that will have you questioning just what the hell is going on. As you level your character up, you’ll gain access to new areas to explore and powers to use and upgrade. These powers include being able to tackle and knockdown enemies or using a drone to scope out the next room to see if there are enemies, and they progressively get better as you gain experience. The areas themselves don’t really change so you’ll get a general understanding of where you need to go and what you need to do rather quickly. You’ll be scaling houses and sneaking through windows to gather info in no time. The Blackout Club is interesting and teases a greater story, but ninety percent of the time the enemies just spout gibberish and the missions themselves fall into repetition. You’re either gathering information from a house, or gathering information and finding an item, or gathering information and rescuing your friends, or gathering information and putting posters up. The Blackout Club has some real genuine tension when you start playing, but that quickly wears off after you’ve searched the same house for the 100th time to take a picture of the same thing you’ve been taking pictures of.
Some of the enemies you’ll be dealing with include drones that will spot you and call out your position, sleepwalkers who stumble around and talk to themselves (creepy cult guys and actual adults in pajamas that can only find you by hearing you) and lucids, who are these creepy one eyed cult dudes that can see you in lit areas, call you champ and try to reason with you while they hunt you down (very creepy indeed). Not only do you have to watch out for enemies in the real world, but if the eye at the bottom of your screen fills up due to too many mistakes, you’ll need to close your eyes to pinpoint and take refuge away from your unseen enemy. Avoiding the enemy is fine, but when you’re being chased by something that you can only see when you close your eyes, the tension ratchets up. At one point I had hid in a bathroom to avoid a sleepwalker and a lucid. They came in to investigate but gave up when they couldn’t find anything. The eye had filled up though and the big bad was closing in on my position. I closed my eyes (triangle button on PS4) and was trying to locate the yellow glow of the enemy. I opened my eyes and the bathroom door swung open but no one was there, and that’s when I knew I was fucked. I ran out of the adjacent bathroom door and jumped out the 2nd floor window of the house I was investigating to make my escape. It’s moments like these that make The Blackout Club such a fun game to play, and with other players to experience it with you it’s even better. Being able to distract a sleepwalker by throwing some firecrackers so your friends can get through a tight spot is cool, or being the only one in the group with the grappling hook so you can all climb up onto the roof of a house to sneak through an open window instead of kicking the front door in is not only smart, but equally as cool. The game begs each member of the group to bring something different to the table to tackle a mission. You’re a group of teenagers so everything you have at your disposal is non-lethal. You can’t just pick up a shotgun and fight your way out. You have to play smart if you want to survive.
When you launch The Blackout Club, you will be asked whether you want to opt-in to the Enhanced Horror System. This allows the game to listen to and sometimes record your vocalizations if you have a microphone active and use it to create the most immersive horror experience. I had it activated myself and didn’t experience anything out of the ordinary, but who knows, it might work for you so you may as well have it turned on. There is also a PVP mode available called “The Stalker” which is unlocked once you hit Level 5, but I couldn’t find anyone online to play with because the game hasn’t actually launched yet. I’ll update this review once I’ve given it a proper go.
The Blackout Club is a great co-op experience that could become even better with future updates. There may not be a lot of combat but it delivers a one of a kind co-op experience. If you’re not playing online or have a group of friends to play with though, you might get bored pretty quickly playing by yourself. – NVJ
The Blackout Club is available for PS4, Xbox One & PC on July 30th, 2019
PS4 review code provided by Evolve PR