The Blackout Club snuck up on me (pardon the pun). It was a game that I knew little about it until it was announced as leaving Early Access. I watched its annoucement trailer and instantly I thought ‘how have I not heard about this game?’. Soon enough I was in the town of Redacre and couldn’t wait to discover the secret of this strange town.
So, what exactly is The Blackout Club? Is it like the epic Brad Pitt film Fight Club? Not quite… The Blackout Club is an indie, stealth-based, first-person cooperative (1-4 players) multiplayer horror game developed by Question LLC. The Blackout Club was first released to Early Access in October 2018 and revolves around a group of teens that form the Blackout Club who are trying to discover the strange mysteries that are taking over their town. By day everything is normal, but at night the adults turn into possessed sleepwalkers that have no recollection of their actions and play it off like nothing even happened. Basically, think of it like Stranger Things, but in a video game!
You begin The Blackout Club with a prologue to the game and it’s AMAZING. I couldn’t help but constantly think to myself ‘Why haven’t I heard about this game?’. The prologue lays the foundation that most AAA games can’t replicate- a deep and intriguing story, intense action and the best elements from RPG and scavenging games, but sadly The Blackout Club fails to live up to it’s own prologue…
Here’s where the game begins to disappoint- As soon as you complete the prologue, you’re instantly thrown into randomly generated missions that do little to enhance the story. Soon many hours pass of nothing more than sneaking, looting and grinding missions away for little reward. I see no sight of an end, just more meaningless missions and objectives that encourage you to explore Redacre. This becomes quite tedious and I’ll say it, disappointing. You grind to find pickups and tranq darts then lose them when the mission ends only to have to go find them again in the next mission. Sure, you gain experience upon completing missions that unlock new skills, but the majority of these skills feel useless and fail to enhance gameplay.
As sneaking and stealth are key elements of the game, I expected a vast array of enemies with unique strengths and weaknesses that I would have to learn to exploit. Instead, I was met with three different enemies that were rather disappointing (expect for the Shape who I’ll talk about later). Sleepers are… well, sleepers- They’re blind sleepwalkers who can only hear your movements. Lucids are slightly more challenging as they can hear and more importantly, see you. This encourages you to stick to the shadows and remain silent. Finally, there’s the Shape, who I previously mentioned. The Shape takes advantage of your mistakes and appears once you’ve been spotted, made noise or any other means of making yourself known. Here’s where things get interesting, the Shape can only be seen when players close their eyes, meaning you will have to get to safety before closing your eyes to reveal Shape’s location. It’s a clever mechanic that encourages players to play the game as it should be- with patience. Once the Shape has arrived there’s no way to kill or avoid the Shape until he catches you and possesses your mind… or you complete the mission, either way it stops you (or your team mate) from trying to rush through the level.
Both Jimmy and myself struggled to enjoy The Blackout Club with our solo playthroughs, but together we actually enjoyed the game. Together we found the receptiveness and grind of the game tolerable, but it wasn’t until we joined a few random games and began experiencing the real attraction of The Blackout Club- playing as a Stalker. Stalkers are
overpowered human players that join your game with the sole purpose to sabotage your mission, exposing you quicker so the Shape arrives before your mission is complete. Stalkers find themselves stealing your supplies, taking pictures of players and essentially, causing chaos and it’s quite fun. Here’s one of many problems though, to be able to play as a Stalker you need to earn Stalker Credits. How do you earn this premium currency you ask? Well you must catch a Stalker in one of your missions. See the problem? If no Stalkers join your games then it’s impossible to earn these credits… Such a shame as there’s nothing more rewarding than joining a random game, ruining their experience and then leaving!
I quite enjoyed how The Blackout Club looks, it reminds me of a dark and intense version of Hello Neighbor mixed with Dead By Daylight. Similar games, yes, but the dark nature of The Blackout Club combined with some excellent lighting effects really. Character models and animations are decent, but then again, most enemies are sleepwalking so it’s probably not the most complex design process. Sound effects and ambient noise also get a thumbs up, while these aspects of The Blackout Club aren’t amazing, I never once thought that this game was ever let down by its appearance or sound quality.
I can sum up The Blackout Club with one word- potential. I love the concept, I love the prologue, I love some of the ideas but I can’t help but feel the game is incomplete. Another year of crowd funding and development in Early Access could have allowed for a much deeper and rewarding experience and deliver a complete game that reflects the opening prologue of the game.
- GAMEPLAY - 65%65%
- GRAPHICS - 75%75%
- AUDIO - 70%70%
The Blackout Club provides a unique co-op horror experience that has the potential to compete with great co-op games such as Left 4 Dead. Unfortunately the lack of depth ultimately hurts a game that relies heavily on its replayability.
For more on The Blackout Club, check out our previous coverage.