The Outlast Trials Review – Bloody great fun

Reviewed March 8, 2024 on PS5


Xbox One, PS4, PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S


March 5, 2024


Red Barrels


Red Barrels

The Outlast Trials takes that first-person horror experience we’ve come to know from the franchise and transforms it. Players become part of the game in a way they’ve never been able to before. The Outlast games have always been known to push the barrier with players enduring visceral experiences as they delve into terrifying conspiracies. We were lucky enough to check this one out in early access last year, so has the game progressed now it’s fully released and available on console? With beloved games already released under the Outlast name, there are a lot of expectations at play for this new spin on the series. So how does The Outlast Trials continue such a formidable legacy? Easily, apparently.

The game starts out much like other entries in the series as it teases the player with the horrors that await, but this entry is hiding something deeper. Players start out having to relinquish their past, destroying records of their own existence. Suddenly the game is more than as it first seems as it opens up into a lobby that will act as a hub area for the majority of the trial.

The Outlast Trials repackages the horror game experience that the franchise is known for, favouring an episodic challenge-based multiplayer experience. In the lobby area, players have total control over what trial they play or replay as well as other unlockable character modifications and gadget-like abilities. It’s quite common to see other players in this staging area before trials. This area also features an individual cell for players to customise if they wish. Completing more trials allows you to purchase more items and other cosmetics for the cell. You can also view other players’ customised cells too. The whole experience in this lobby area reminded me of the vaults from the Fallout series, and considering the simulated nature of the trials, it’s an interesting comparison. The last things of note in this lobby area are the chess and arm wrestling tables that players can partake in if they’re waiting for a group. These offer a clever little competitive entrée before the murderous trials begin.

“The Outlast Trials repackages the horror game experience that the franchise is known for…”

The aim of the game is to complete all the individual trials and be reborn anew. The concept is clear yet vague, and considering what the trials entail, it’s a dubious goal. In reality, Murkoff wishes to create the perfect sleeper agent through this gauntlet of ‘therapy’. Players familiar with the Outlast series might pick up on how this game sees players at the mercy of Murkoff, the infamous organisation we’ve come across before. Under the direction of a doctor, communicating to the player like it’s a 2020 Zoom meeting, his expectations and goals of the player in this trial are outlined. Players then realise their character has essentially signed up for the medical trial of hell. 

When players begin a trial, they’ll witness how realistic this game intends to make the experience. Being transported around the facility in a shuttle system, complete with hallucinogenic gas, really prepares the player for the tone of these trials as you seemingly play through staged real-life events. Objectives vary from killing the snitch to feeding the children. Players are dropped into these staged locations that feel like a mix of theatre sets and brutalizing arenas. The only thing between players and their objectives is the game’s roster of horrifying murderous fiends who stalk through the trails. The end goal is to complete the trial as instructed, survive, and exit via the shuttle you came in on.

As a player who’s seen their fair share of horror games, the concept of The Outlast Trials is one I approach with caution and for obvious reason. Horror games have to work harder to keep players immersed, so how does a multiplayer game immerse multiple players at once? The answer is quite simple. The Outlast Trials build the player(s) into the experience, removing the singular character and encouraging players to approach the character system in any way they see fit. They seal the player into the horror by allowing them to take ownership of their character. Not only do players create their own character but they are then able to customise the room they live in, what abilities they have, and what augments they focus on. Furthermore, this character is solely the player’s, with other players looking entirely different. This then becomes the vehicle that carries you through the horrors as you enter the trials. Players are never freed from this character and so already the game grafts you into the terror that awaits. Even as a cooperative experience, players remain sole entities in this experience.

Considering The Outlast Trials is marketed as a multiplayer experience, players are still able to play solo, though it’s inadvisable. Much of my time with the game was solo and this left me alone, at the mercy of the trials in the game. Trial tasks don’t scale, so having to navigate around the arena to 5 machines when avoiding the game’s heinous criminals sure brings a lonely challenge. The game’s AI is a tricky brute too, with some trials seemingly impossible as they lurk and appear in your area with little warning. In one instance, I would sneak into an area only to get cornered by Mother Gooseberry, then I’d race away leading them out of the area. On return, it wasn’t uncommon to either be cornered by her again or another enemy in the same area. While this was horrifying, it’s evident how the game plays better with a group in the trial instead of running it solo.

The game also features a group finder, allowing players to find games instantly or groups for specific trials. It feels like this was when the game became its best self. Playing with randoms is as chaotic as it is exciting. Lobbies come alive as you watch players being chased across arenas while you try your best to avoid the carnage or maybe even save them before it’s too late.

Nothing can beat playing the game with friends, though. The Outlast Trials wants you to bring the crew into the trials and from there, it’s a brutal bonanza of bestie butchery. While working together is much easier, the horrors I witnessed happening to my friends made it so much more fun and terrifying. While paying with others can allow you to help each other, the tomfoolery in these arena matches while killers lurk made it much more dire for your adrenaline. In one instance, I was tasked with decoding a signal machine and I was asked if I was still there – moments later my fellow trial participant rushed by me followed by a huge killer who instantly came after me instead. This alone made the trials feel more exciting as you never know what your teammates might be up to, though hopefully, it doesn’t result in your own demise.

“With new areas and special weekly challenges, it’s exciting that this game will continue past the content already in the game.”

The developers have begun to tease what’s coming for the game now that it’s left early access. With new areas and special weekly challenges, it’s exciting that this game will continue past the content already in the game. My one concern was seeing that the game does offer a cosmetic that is rather bloated and seems hard to justify at least for myself. Players can spend almost $30 (AUD) for a Reagent Starter Pack that features 4 legendary skins, and other in-game cosmetics that are purely aesthetic. It seems like a very brazen choice to bundle all of this content together. There is no in-game store, at least as of now, but even so, it’s a steep price to pay just to make your cell or player character look cooler. I think this will be overhauled at some point, depending on the future lifespan of The Outlast Trials. I’d be excited for this provided cosmetics earned in-game are still interesting and rewarding to players who can’t afford premium additional content.

Through multiple completions of the trials, players gain access to more difficult objectives in levels. The aptly named “Advanced Therapy” and “Extreme Therapy” are unlockable modes for players who have completed a therapy program multiple times. The game rewards players who are brave enough to return with a steeply increased challenge that gives more rewards for completion against the harder odds. Collecting new cosmetics after terrifying bloody trials is nice but having surivied with your fellow reagents is reward enough!

Players will find The Outlast Trials chaotic and yet intriguing, especially when played with a group of friends. The trials demand teamwork and yet reward frantic motions as it’s often in these moments where players are truly tested. I’m excited to stick with this one and hopefully as more content comes out I’ll have more luck getting my friends to enter the Trials with me.




  • Playing in a group is a heart-stopping good time
  • Narrative feels instantly immersive
  • Just as scary as the other games in the Outlast series
  • New weekly content challenges and trial areas keep things exciting.


  • Solo play is more tedious than terrifying
  • Enemy AI feels overbearing at times to mixed results
  • Game's cosmetic DLC is overpriced and unnecessary

The Outlast Trials is a brutally fresh twist of the knife for the franchise. Cooperative play meshes seamlessly with the horror experience, allowing players to squad up and take on brutal trials that are as horrifying as they are fun to survive together. Solo play is more trouble for the same reward, so it’s a good thing the game includes a matchmaking system. With more content on the way, it’s clear Murkoff has struck gold with this new take on a loved IP!