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R18: contains violence and content that may disturb

Spoiler alert

This page outlines how the classification criteria were applied. We do our best to discuss the content while avoiding spoilers, but please avoid reading this information if you do not want to learn anything about the content of this game.

Outlast poster

Date registered: 17/01/2014

About the game

Outlast is a survival horror video game for the PlayStation 4 and computers. It uses a continuous first person perspective and body awareness such as terrified breathing or a hand touching a wall when peeking to immerse the player in its world.

The game follows journalist Miles Upshur as he follows a tip on illegal experiments occurring at Mount Massive Asylum. The player explores these dark, bloodied environments with the help of a night-vision enabled video camera. As a civilian, Miles cannot attack and must run and hide from the asylum's psychotic inhabitants. Recording incidents advances the back story while the necessity of finding new batteries encourages the player to venture into the dark unknown.

Gameplay - blood-spattered room in the asylum

Classification criteria: Horror

Outlast primarily deals with matters of horror. The player explores a dark and decrepit asylum filled with the criminally insane. Rooms are smeared with blood and corpses while crazed inmates stalk the halls. The game regularly uses horror tropes such as dark lighting, discordant music and jump scares. It also deals with the body horror of medical experimentation.

Some inmates are seen with fleshy, vestigial stumps for hands while others have stitched flesh and missing eyes. Many are emaciated, huddling in fear or remain bound in straitjackets or chains. Cells are filled with the scrawling of madmen and walls hold phrases written in blood. In later parts of the game a spectral creature adds a supernatural element. A great deal of the horrific tone is set through depictions of cruelty and violence.

Gameplay - giant scissor-weilding emaciated maniac

Decision summary

Outlast is an intense horror game with graphic depictions of cruelty and bloody violence which would be severely disturbing to younger audiences. The asylum setting allows for a focus on horror and the constant threat of violence adds a pervasive sense of fear and dread. A brief scene of necrophilia, while used to disgust and horrify, would prove particularly shocking to younger audiences.

As a result, the unrestricted availability of the publication would be injurious to the public good. In addition, the use of highly offensive language further supports the need for restriction. The graphic content presented clearly suggests the game is intended for an adult audience.

Considering the right to freedom of expression as set out in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, a restriction on the availability of the publication to adults would be the lowest reasonable restriction which could be applied in order to prevent injury to the public good.

Therefore Outlast is classified as objectionable unless the availability of the publication is restricted to persons who have attained the age of 18 years.

Contact the Information Unit if you require further information on a classification decision.

R18 label
R18: contains violence and content that may disturb