Imagine waking up to find your friend has gone missing, the adults in the town have all turned to mindless zombies at night, and an evil corporation is trying to cover its tracks for whatever the hell is going on. Sounds like something from a Goosebumps book or a short story from CreepyPasta right? Well, that’s essentially what’s going down when you join The Blackout Club.
Each morning you awaken from your slumber with mud trodden into your carpets, scratches on your arms and the odd piece of broken furniture in your room. Problem is you have no recollection of what went on. You blacked out. Sometimes just for the night, sometimes it is even longer. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. The Blackout Club is formed with a group of teenage friends who are having similar experiences. The aim of your group in this first-person co-op horror game is to investigate the strange goings-on of your small town. During your investigations you will stumble across a network of tunnels below the town’s surface, but where do they lead and what is down there? What’s causing all this chaos? There’s only one way to find out. Team up, explore and collect evidence to expose what is going on to the wider world.
When booting up the game for the first time, you’ll have two options. To jump straight into the thick of it and go out to face the unknown, or play through the prologue. We definitely recommend the latter option as not only does the prologue set the scene for the game, it introduces you in how to play the game as well. And it’s no crappy quick 5-minute tutorial, the prologue can take a good 20-30 minutes to complete, and it genuinely just feels like a real mission which gives you some context to what is going on.
Once you’ve finished the prologue, or if you decide to skip it, you’ll set your character up. Don’t worry though, it’s not like when you play a complex RPG and spend hours crafting how you will look, it’s a pretty basic selection. Too basic almost, in that you only get one or two choices for things such as body type (male and female from what we can guess), facial style (both look quite feminine) and voice (again, male and female). You are spoilt for choice with hair though because you get three styles instead of two, but like the facial style, they all do appear quite feminine. Once set up, you will have the opportunity to customise clothes which can be bought at the clubhouse using candy you earn for completing missions.
The clubhouse isn’t just where you can change your appearance though, it’s where you can explore everything you need to know about the game. From what equipment is available and how it is used, to important rules of how to survive missions found in The Blackout Club handbook. You’ll also be able to assign points earned through gaining Exp to give your character a major power and some minor powers. The majors are pretty much designed around different styles of play with four to choose from, we won’t spoil what they all are before you get to play but our favourite was the drone, allowing you to fly up and scout the area before entering, allowing you to plan the best route to take. Although if you don’t mind just keeping an ear out to hear what is lurking about, a different power may suit you better. As for minor powers, they tend to work more along the lines of allowing you to start with specific items like lock picks and energy bars.
There is one last hero item you can equip before going out to collect evidence; a taser, a grappling hook and a crossbow. Each has their own use, but I must say the taser is great, especially if you have one of the brainwashed adults coming towards you. Quick zap and they’re out for the count for 10 seconds, allowing you to escape or hide.
Once you’re ready, just select whether to host or join a game, and go out into the town. The top right of your screen will show your mission for that particular session, it could be collecting evidence from a property, trying to locate a certain item or even pickpocketing someone for some evidence you need to steal back. Be careful though, this game is all about stealth and if you get caught, the adults can cause damage to you. Fortunately, they can’t see you, but they can hear you, so being quiet is important. There are however drones out on the lookout for you as well as enemies who can see if you’re in the light. Activate these and you’ll soon regret it as The Shape will be after you.
Doesn’t sound scary right? The Shape. Pffft. But you can’t see it. Unless you close your eyes and enter the blackout world. And even then all you can see is the outline of a red-figure coming closer and closer until it catches up with you. I won’t spoil what happens next but put it this way, you don’t want to get caught. It’s not just the shape you see by closing your eyes though, you’ll be able to see footprints guiding you to where you need to go, as well as messages that will offer advice, or just instil fear into your soul if you’re not one for being creeped out.
So yeah, stealth is important. The best way to stay hidden is to crouch everywhere. It may take you longer but you’ll be less likely to get caught. If you want to run around, feel free, but beware you will run out of stamina and end up slowing down anyway. This can be fixed with an energy bar, which you can find by scouting through houses and searching for items. The most successful places I’ve found stuff is in closets and garages, which also happen to be the places you’ll find access to the underground tunnels. If you do get caught though, try not to panic too much as you watch your body being dragged off. Keep an eye out for litter or other objects that you can pick up and throw at your captor, allowing you to wriggle free and run off to safety.
Don’t be afraid to explore too much though, as it can be very worthwhile. As mentioned above you can find items that will help you out and also bonus evidence to share with The Blackout Club, resulting in some extra Exp. Once you’ve explored the area and completed your tasks, you’ll have to make it back to the exit point to get back to HQ. From there you’ll be able to spend your earned candy on new outfits and upgrade your powers as you level up, ready to take on the next mission and solve the mysteries of what’s going on.
It doesn’t sound like I’ve found much wrong with the game so far, but there were actually a couple of things that bugged me, although they were only small and nothing detrimental. Firstly, there was using blackout vision. Whilst helpful showing you where you need to go, if you’re running, it doesn’t actually populate quick enough so you have to stop or slow down to see what the best way to go is, however, when you’re being chased this isn’t ideal. Luckily you do have an objective marker but sometimes you have to figure out how to get to it as it isn’t as simple as just running straight to it.
The second issue was to do with gameplay mechanics, in particular with jumping/climbing up obstacles. It was fine for me really, being able to climb over a garden fence, or on top of it as you have to drop down yourself, but on several occasions, I saw random adults just waling on the top of hedges. Not sure if this was meant to be the case, but it did seem like a bug to me as it just didn’t look right. Besides that, I couldn’t fault it much else.
One awesome feature that really is worth mentioning before we finish our review, which I think would be ideal for streamers to create some entertaining content, is that if you have a mic connected you can essentially activate an enhanced horror version of the game. This records your voice during the game and replays what you say back to you, essentially trying to drive you insane as you play the game. Nothing weirder than hearing your own voice speaking back to you. It really does enhance the gameplay experience.
So what is the overall verdict for The Blackout Club? Honestly, it really is a great multiplayer horror experience. It can be played solo too, but the game is so much more enjoyable with friends, in fact, it’s almost like what I imagine a Stranger Things game to be like, or would hope it to be like. If you’re clever as well you will all equip different skills to help you through the game. Although it only works if you stick together and you don’t have someone running off LEEROY JENKINS style. Besides the gameplay, the rest of the game is pretty great too, whilst not overly detailed the graphics look good and the sound effects really help create an awry atmosphere. Yes, there are a couple of bugs but what game doesn’t have them. The Blackout Club is well worthy of its high score, and we highly recommend checking the title out if you’re into your horrors.
The Blackout Club is developed and published by Question, and is out now, available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. For more information on the game, visit the official site by clicking HERE. For more FULLSYNC reviews, just click right HERE.