By Ronald Gordon
It’s yet more zombie media! Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles is a series of Horror Adventure games developed and published by Dead Drop Studios. Most of the other games are locked away behind downloadable content, so I only got to play chapter one, which tells the story of a young woman named Lydia, and her friends, who are all trapped in a zombie apocalypse. Unfortunately, Lydia somehow gets separated from the group and finds herself in an abandoned asylum all by herself. With no hope of escaping, Lydia tries her best to survive, even though she knows it’s hopeless and that she’s probably going to die. Yet she soldiers on.
Outbreak is similar to Resident Evil; you’re given guns and items that can combine with other objects in your inventory. You get to pick up floppy disks which act as your save files when you come across a place where you can take a breath and save. And there are different types of zombies for you to encounter as you explore the asylum. Some are fatter and take more bullets to kill while others are poisonous and can chip away at your health even after they’re dead…again.
Outbreak isn’t the best game out there, to be honest. The movements of most of the enemies are stiff and almost mechanical, making it seem like they’re all a bunch of dawdling machines. The controls and camera were unbearable when it came to changing viewpoints in a room and even made me angry when maneuvering in places with more than one camera angle. It was so bad, sometimes it took me a good minute to pick up an item that was three feet in front of me because the camera kept turning along with the direction my character was moving. If the camera focuses on me moving left in one shot, it would later shift to another shot and instead I’d be moving right.
Also, there isn’t much inventory space, so you can’t hold a lot of things. And you know what else you can’t do? Drop items! So you either use up what you have, leave behind items you can’t pick up for later, or wait for a chest in a safe room to place your stuff in. That is, if you manage to survive until then.
There isn’t much music or indeed sounds of any kind in most of the game, just eerie noises and the same depressing violin song playing in the background on a loop. Even the zombies and guns make the same sounds after a while. You hear a more cheery tune in the safe rooms that you encounter, but those only appear every now and again.
One of the main things that upset me about this game was its story. There’s not much to it. You’re alone in a building full of zombies, and you already know you’re gonna die. It’s depressing when you play a game where the main character has no hope of avoiding what’s to come and is accepting of death or defeat. Knowing that, I was genuinely disheartened while playing. At that point, everything about the game just started feeling dull. If there was a better story to it then I would’ve been a little perkier, but sadly there wasn’t.
Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles isn’t a game I would personally recommend. The story is discouraging, the movement of the characters is inflexible and the controls are irritating because of the shortcomings of the camera movement. The music is too melancholic and unchanging in most cases, and the inventory problem is frustrating. However, if you’re looking for a game that handles like the old Resident Evil games, then you’re in luck! If not, then move on. There are other zombie games out there to engage you with fright and the love of life after the fear is over.
Ronald Gordon is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern, part of our ongoing partnership with Bronx’s DreamYard Prep School.