Arts video game review

Beware of the Shape

‘The Blackout Club’ is an interesting addition to the horror genre

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'The Blackout Club' features a variety of items to help you complete missions.
Courtesy of Question

The Blackout Club
Developed by Question
Published by Question
Available on PS4, Xbox One, and Windows

To instill a sense of foreboding eeriness, The Blackout Club begins with a tutorial mission that quickly introduces you to the game’s mechanics and lore. You initially play as Bells, a teenage girl seeking evidence to explain the mysterious blackouts afflicting her small town home of Redacre which cause the adults to sleepwalk at night and children to disappear. Located within the National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ), the town is essentially isolated from the world so the children of the town must band together to solve this mystery once Bells also disappears. This group dubs itself the Blackout Club.

The Blackout Club adds a co-op spin to the realm of horror gaming, much like Gun Media’s Friday the 13th: The Game. After the prologue mission, the gameplay relies heavily on players banding together to carry out missions issued by the Blackout Club. Players are matched together online and have the option to communicate through a chat room or via microphone. The use of a microphone also enables additional gameplay features, known as the Enhanced Horror System in-game. 

The missions involved vary wildly and allow players to explore the different sections of the map, from sneaking into people’s houses to creeping through the underground tunnels winding deep below. The missions lead players on adventures to discover more about the mysterious force dictating the adults’ cult-like antics, save fellow children who were previously kidnapped, or sabotage the technology of the sleepwalking adults. 

The more you play the game, the more lore you are exposed to. When players level up, they discover new areas and pick up journal entries from lost kids as they progress through the game. This mechanic often provides an incentive to keep playing the game so that you can discover more about the story of the game. 

As with any stealth-based game, one downside of The Blackout Club is how much more difficult the game gets once you’ve been discovered. There is a helpful mechanic in place that lets players know if nearby enemies are aware of their presence or if they’re visible to the Lucid mobs — the only enemies in-game that can see — but a small trigger such as getting chased or grappled is a really easy way to turn a mission on its head. To make matters worse, these triggers can exponentially compound the “sins” players collect by breaking the rules, which can lead to the Shape coming forth and knocking them out of the game. Once the Shape sets its sights on taking you out, it’s hard to outrun it and you can’t defend yourself against it. In cases like this, the enemies in The Blackout Club can seem really overpowered. Luckily, other players can bring you back once the Shape has knocked you out of the game.

Overall, The Blackout Club is a fun game. The nature of the missions and co-op can seem repetitive, but getting into the lore of the game can really help to keep players engaged.