An enemy that you can only see when your eyes are closed. That sounds like an interesting mechanic, one that could potentially lead to some good gameplay. Given that, what could go wrong? Well, let’s just say that The Blackout Club may have left Early Access a bit too early.
Unique horror mechanics. What originally sold me on the game was its concept: You (and however many friends you’re playing with) must complete missions while avoiding an enemy that is only visible when your eyes are closed. The game accomplishes this by highlighting this enemy when your eyes are closed, which of course makes everything else not visible. It is a trade-off, but it makes for a pretty cool mechanic. Outside of that enemy, there are additional human enemies scattered about, some of which are blind and can only track you via sound and others that can only see you when you step into the light. The game throws a combination of these at you whenever you take up a mission, sometimes forcing you to approach an objective differently.
Great movement. One thing that The Blackout Club does really well is its movement. Given that the characters are all a bunch of kids, you’re able to move around with ease. This include scaling houses, jumping between them, hopping through windows, and just doing parkour in general. The environment is designed to be taken advantage of like this, with objects placed in such a way as to encourage creative movement. In fact, in several areas you’re able to sneak past enemies by sticking to the lights, rafters, or ledges above them. The movement may not be entirely realistic (especially given that you can turn around midair CS:GO style), but it’s definitely fun to play around with.
Extremely repetitive gameplay. The main problem with The Blackout Club is just how repetitive it is. I half-expected this given that the missions are generated by the game, but I did not expect it to be this bad. It only took three missions for my friend and I to get a repeat and from that point on, the game just shuffled through the same four or five missions over and over with little variation. However, even then, most of the missions boil down to very simplistic formulas, including finding something and interacting with it, placing objects at specified points around the map, or following some drone around. In fact, of the last five or so missions we completed, the majority of them were a “follow the drone” mission. The game is sorely lacking in variety and it completely kills the experience if you want to play it beyond maybe an hour or two, as that is pretty much all the time you need to see everything the game has to offer.
Tacked-on new areas. Given that the gameplay is so repetitive, I had at least looked forward to unlocking the next area to see if that would offer up some additional variety. However, the game let me down yet again, as this new area ended up being a simple extension of the previous. And to make it even worse, the missions I took on in this new area required me to go back to the original area every single time. At that point, I question why the game even offers new areas if they weren’t going to be taken advantage of. All it does is make the game feel even more repetitive, as you’ll be going through the same area mission after mission, regardless of what area you select to start in at the beginning.
Unnecessarily long grind. And unfortunately, the game doesn’t stop there. In order to even unlock the new areas, you have to reach a specific level, which of course requires you to grind out the repetitive missions for experience. The first area can be unlocked in maybe a couple hours, but the second requires you to reach level 12. To put that in perspective: by the time I reached three hours, I was only level 5. Considering that the amount of experience you need to reach a new level scales with your level, it would take a considerable amount of time to get this new area. And given that the new areas are simple extensions of the first, there really isn’t much of a reward for leveling outside of upgrading your abilities. I should also mention that the experience gained scales with the amount of players you have, so you’re going to have a much more difficult time going in as a solo player. Really, the leveling is just way too slow for what is unlocked as a result.
This is not the quality I would expect from a game coming out of Early Access. Sure, the horror mechanics and movement are fine, but the game is far too repetitive in its current state to warrant playing. A more diverse pool of mission objectives and environments could have remedied this to an extent, but given the core structure of the game, that is but a simple band-aid solution.
You can buy The Blackout Club on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.