I enjoy almost nothing more than a spooky video game. Add in some co-op and you have the perfect Friday night scare filled evening with friends. The Blackout Club, a co-op mission based survival game developed and published by Question, does a terrific job of bringing both together. Mix in a bit of mystery and some terrific lore with evil and possibly more evil gods and you have the making of one of my new favorite games.
Welcome to the town of Redacre, smack right in the middle of a no network zone. Things are going a bit crazy for the town’s teens, including waking up in the middle of the woods covered in dirt days after they remember being awake. Turns out some pretty spooky things are happening underneath the town. The prologue for the game introduces players to one of the teens named Bells, and a bit of the lore and game mechanics. This is one of my favorite parts of the game and thankfully you can go back and play it whenever you want.
The Blackout Club has many of the same mechanics as other co-op survival games including running, jumping, crouching, parkour abilities, and the use of pick-ups. However, what sets this apart from the rest is a few key mechanics needed in gameplay. The first and one of the major mechanics is the need to close your eyes in order to see certain things in game, including the main antagonist The Shape. By hitting the Z key players are treated to a very similar view as if they closed their eyes on their own. This is useful in kiting The Shape, who goes after anyone who has built up too much sin.
A basic match plays out something like this: port into the map in a random location based on zone choice, complete one or multiple quests given to you via text message from the club, try and stay as quiet as possible and in the shadows as to not alert others and safely make it out in the end. Sounds simple enough but add in countless NPCS (non playable characters) who are on the hunt for you and things get a bit complicated. Now the game recently released so the mission list is a bit short. This means that you will be replaying a lot of the same missions. However, everything is randomized so you will still have to search out for everything.
The Blackout Club has a few major mechanics outside of gameplay that helps to set it apart. First is your major and minor powers. As you level up (from one to twenty) you receive power points. This can be used to upgrade your major power or purchase minor powers. Gameplay doesn’t stop once a player hits twenty though. They have the ability to sacrifice themselves which adds points to the leader board and start back at level one. This way they can try out different perks and see what works best for them. If the co-op part is starting to bore you, try playing a stalker! These are teens who are working with the mysterious group. They are sent out on unsuspecting players to record evidence of their misdoings. You can opt out of having stalkers in your game if you never play one but once you do, you can’t turn it off. So think wisely before heading through that door.
My favorite part of this game is the way we receive it’s lore. Nothing is fed directly to you while playing the game. Instead, you have to find it for yourself. During gameplay you can listen to what the sleepers are mumbling and afterwards you have the ability to remember your dreams. The dreams are questions that are asked by other players to one of the multiple in-game Gods. Some might seem a bit silly, but lore based ones are always answered with equally puzzling facts that make you second guess what is really going on in Redacre.
To access the ability to perform a ritual and ask one of the gods a question, players must opt into the Enhanced Horror System. The system itself allows players to have interactions during gameplay and even afterwards. Some players have experienced weird instances where they call out a god during gameplay and when they close their eyes they have responses written in red. This level of in-game integration really blows my mind. Learning lore this way is fun and really helps to bring players together. Just check out one of the many The Blackout Club wikis or Discord and you will find people coming together to help piece together the story.
One of the only downsides I can see with the game going forward doesn’t really deal with gameplay mechanics at all. It really has to deal with how they set up their lobbies. When you want to play, you can head over to the mission board and either set up your own lobby or join another group. You can have up to four teammates in a match, however there is no minimum number. On slower days, I have run several missions on my own, which at lower levels can be easy but the higher ones are almost impossible sometimes. I think The Blackout Club would benefit from a single player queue that allows players to just drop into a lobby whenever they want to play instead of having to find one or start their own.
The Blackout Club has a lot going for it, and I am ready to play this game into the ground. Question has already said that this is just the beginning and we will be getting more missions and zones to explore. They also hinted at the introduction of a god more evil than the rest of them. If you haven’t gotten a chance to try or see the game in action, I highly recommend it. Nothing is better than teaming up with your friends, solving a mystery and running from a disembodied Shape man bent on turning you to the dark side.