THE BLACKOUT CLUB Review: Co-Op Horror Expanded

PC Review Code Provided by Question

PC Review Code Provided by Question

When I first had a chance to play The Blackout Club by Question, I thought the game was interesting and had me interested in a story mode experience. Little did I know that they had so much more in store for their game; they had something unique planned. It appears this could have happened during the early access, but in the few hours I put in back then I wasn’t chosen. However, during my playthrough since launch, I have experienced my first visit and it changed the way I saw this game for the better.

Story

Something strange is going on in the small, radio silent Virginia city Redacre. At night, all the adults are sleepwalking and the children are experiencing blackouts, all of which wake up everyday somewhere they don’t know and with no knowledge of what has happened. After a close friend goes missing, the kids decide it is time to find out what is happening in their small town and form The Blackout Club.

Gameplay

This game is a procedurally mission-based game that allows players to play either solo or with up to three friends. The goal is to complete the missions and then get out of town safe, but while you are there it is encouraged to explore. The secrets won’t be solved just by completing the missions and leaving constantly as it is the unexplored areas that answer the bigger questions.

There are bonus evidence items throughout the town. They are always randomly generated on their locations, but once you find the item you simply record it with your phone. It is also possible to be a note you have to find, so be sure to keep a keen eye out for these items as they give both experience and snacks.

Snacks are rewarded at the end of every mission. These are used to buy cosmetic items and gestures while in the lobby section of the game. This is where you can make your character unique and styled how you want.

Before loading up any mission, you have the choice to bring in one of three items: a stun gun for defense, a grapple for easy travel, or a crossbow with tranquilizer darts. I prefer the crossbow personally, but each item has its own use. To go along with this choice you can pick your power and add ons, which can be leveled up by the points you earn from leveling up your character. These powers are also based on gameplay preference, providing you the options such as Takedown, which will let you easily pin enemies instead of taking them down slowly, Unstoppable, which reduces the damage you take to zero and aids in stamina, along with two other options. The add ons are little options that you can unlock with the same points used on the powers which can be one of many things, such as bring in a bandage at start or lucky boxes giving double loot.

Stealth is key to this game as with every “sin” you commit, the closer you are to having The Shape come out to get you. This is the main antagonist and can only be seen when you close your eyes. Side note, closing your eyes can also help with some missions and have other uses. Sins are anything from taking down sleepwalkers and lucids (sleepwalkers that can visually see you) to breaking into homes and even simply being heard by the sleepwalkers. If the shape grabs you, you will lose control of yourself and a friend will have to bring you back. Three grabs from the shape and you are officially taken.

Another way you can get caught is from a Stalker. Stalkers are other players that invade your game to record evidence of your sins which will end up causing The Shape to get them. Their goal isn’t to get the other players caught, in fact that could ultimately hurt their score, but directly recording them will show The Shape exactly where to go. They can use the same red doors that the Shape uses to travel around the map quickly as well. Stalkers goal is to record as many sins as possible before getting caught by the players they are invading.

Now, this is part that changed this game from a unique co-op horror experience to a whole new aspect. There are these “voices” (term used loosely as there is no official name for them yet) that are also part of the game. You can think of them as deities, demons, gods, or really just voices as the community is still trying to figure these guys out. Each one represents a different personality aspect and seems to play a role in the bigger picture of the lore. These voices can invade your game, much like a stalker, but specifically to talk to you. If you agree to talk to them, they take you to a whole new location off the map that represents a moon-like surface. Here you can have a full discussion with them - and yes, they are actual people playing these roles (live DM’s)! Sometimes they will quiz you, sometimes they will answer questions, and other times you will learn something about them that wasn’t known before.

These voices changed the game completely because you never know when they will invade, but when they do the event is rare and the moment will mean something to the overall mystery of the game. The community is on Discord and trying to figure out everything still, but this is the reason they don’t have a story mode. The online mode IS the story mode! 1-4 players is the session, but the whole community will have to pull together in order to solve the mystery within Redacre thanks to this unique story-telling aspect.

Visuals

Visually speaking, the game has a unique style. They didn’t go with realism, but it isn’t cartoonish either. They found a middle ground between the two styles that works for when your eyes are open and when you close them.

Audio

The sound effects in this game really help put you on edge. You can hear little sound effects and when there are different traps around to avoid. Listening for sound queue’s is just as important as spotting your objective and they did a great job making each sound clear.

Replayability

The Blackout Club is the definition of replayable. With every mission you get close to leveling up. The more you level up the more of Redacre you have to explore and the deeper into the basement you can go. There are tons of reasons to come back and keep on playing! Even if you aren’t interested in figuring out the lore aspects of the game, the missions change up and the exploration expands the further you progress.

What It Could Have Done Better

I still wish there was a campaign set up in some way. You get to play a prologue for your tutorial and it is a very creepy experience that introduces you to the style of game it is. However, I wouldn’t mind having a few more scenes like this where we can learn some key elements on our own that could fill some gaps or even just plainly give us a longer experience that the prologue does. You can play the game solo through the missions if you want, but the prologue provides an experience of its own and I want more of it.

Other than the campaign aspect, I also don’t care for how rare the moments with the Voices are. While this is the key structure to learning the lore of the game, they are INCREDIBLY RARE. By that I mean you could play for six hours a day and run into them once a week, twice if you are lucky. This aspect of the game changes the way they tell the story and I feel it would benefit from more encounters even if they don’t provide new answers, it gives the unique experience only found in Redacre.

Verdict

The Blackout Club is one of the most unique online horror games out there! The story telling is incredibly different and I don’t know of any other games doing what they are. I love the set up, the lore, and how they making closing your eyes a key function in the game. This is certainly a game worth getting into and one I don’t see dying out anytime soon.