DreadOut's potential is never realized in its messy first act
Digital happiness push all the right buttons with a game that will make you think and possibly even be a little scared.
After the first 15 or 20 minutes, Dreadout begins to overstay its welcome. It isn't effective as a fun game to play or as a scary game to experience. It quickly becomes one giant, tedious fetch quest, with very few legitimate scares throughout. With horror games, it is difficult to achieve balance between scares and gameplay, but in the case of Dreadout, neither element is effective, and the game truly feels unfinished as a result, even with the promise of future installments.
Without either a compelling cast or plot, there's little to draw the player into the mundane gameplay.
On the one hand I have to commend DreadOut for trying to be more than the no-depth scare factories that so many other indie horror games aspire to. It's a callback to the third-person horror games of the PS1/PS2-era and I appreciate that. On the other hand, every attempt to inject that much-needed depth is met with frustrating design decisions. I wanted it to be over well before the end of its brief, two-hour playtime.
"Winners don't do drugs," the game tells me as it cycles through its scroll of finite messages for the third time as I inch my way toward the light, the way out of limbo. I can hear Linda growing tired, her breathing laborious. Soon I'll have to slow her to a walk so she doesn't deplete her stamina, the length of which I can only guess at. Mine's just about gone.
With just the first level having a fair bit of life in it, despite it's few faults, the game is looking quite good so far. Maybe DreadOut is the game we've been looking for to help the Horror genre along in its path to success.