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Home / Technology / The Blackout Club test: chaotic, flawed, weird and absolutely captivating

The Blackout Club test: chaotic, flawed, weird and absolutely captivating



Welcome to Redacre, a sleepy little suburb in the middle of the National Radio Quiet Zone, which severely limits wireless transmission of all kinds. The city is obsessed with a cast of powerful, virtue-based supernatural voices, and with the Radio Quiet Zone ensuring there's no way to ask for help, a team of brave teens needs to find out what's happening and how it can be resolved.

This is a big challenge as the voices control the other city dwellers and try to protect the process that has begun until their alien will has finished what they intend to do.

I play a teenager who is investigating the disappearance of my best friend. I have one more puzzle to solve: the voice in my head that casually obscures me. The other teenagers in Redacre are experiencing this as well and we all agree to find out what's going on.

As a member of the Blackout Club, I start in the car hiding place of the club. From there, I prepare myself for nocturnal excursions with one of the three Hero tools. With a stun gun I can free myself from the grip of a brainwashed citizen, with a grapple hook I can easily reach higher levels, and with a crossbow, I can shoot calming arrows that I found in the field. I also earn experience points and improve both smaller and bigger benefits. Smaller perks offer bonuses for quality of life, such as starting with a castle crack; The main benefits are divided into four skills: Strength, Technology, Stamina and a companion for drones.

As soon as I am upgraded, I set off for randomly generated missions around Redacre. This may result in a confiscated phone being stolen, the evidence of a burglary being investigated, or the dead pigeons being eaten by a club member in the middle of an obsessive trance. Standard children's stuff.


  The Blackout Club players fight in a dimly lit suburban street with a faceless enemy.

Every adult in the Blackout Club must be shunned – or treated over tradition as a one-way street. A supernatural voice keeps Redacre in suspense, but there are still seven, and the children are obsessed with these voices. Each voice, sometimes called a god or a demon, can have multiple people. One voice has taken over most of Redacre in a vision of perfect caged unity. Some of the other voices I encounter are merciful, others mysterious, and thanks to the ritual responses I can dream later in the game – I'll explain it in a moment – I learn that one of them somehow got broken and weakened.

Missions in The Blackout Club is designed for one to four players and almost resembles Left 4 Dead without a fight. I can not compete with adults because they are the spirit-driven families and friends of teens, but I can sneak around them, numb them, or try to turn them off, depending on my stress.

Some of the city dwellers are at an early stage of indoctrination, wandering around on a sleepwalk. Others dream with constantly changing faces and can recognize me much better. Worst of all is the figure, an invisible and invincible enemy that arises when I have drawn enough attention to myself.

Fortunately, the figure does not want to kill me right away. Instead, it wants to throw me out of the game and turn my sleeping body into another patrolling enemy. A friend can bring me back to consciousness and give me another shot when I play with others, but the game ends when I get caught up in the act of playing solo.

The Potential for Horror

The "Enhanced Horror" elements of The Blackout Club are some of the most interesting parts of the game. This is an opt-in system that allows me to study the lore of the game and find out what's really going on.

I can prepare a "ritual" back in the base when I find a rare object and use my microphone to put any question that I want into the ether. I have not found any of these items yet, but when I complete a mission, I am asked if I want to remember a dream. When I do, the game plays a question asked by another player, and one of the votes gives an answer within the character.

While the players can ask what they want, the recorded responses will be different and will only provide some information over time. It's a neat system that turns the voices of real players into in-game content and contains the answers of the game's voice actors.

In another case, finish I am driven by my voice to a completely new trail. When I close my eyes, I usually encounter deep red eyelid clouds, but a bright red path points the way to my next mission goal.

This time, the footprints do not lead me to where I'm expecting from. Instead, I find myself in an Escher-like library where strange structures jut into the sky. An informative poster changes when I close my eyes. There is a message that can be seen in the same glowing red as the steps: WAKE UP, SEE YOURSELF !!! A look into the environment with open or closed eyes seems to betray nothing. Soon I have to flee, as the enemies turn me off and start chasing me.

It's even possible for players other than stalkers to invade your game, a treacherous member of the club that helps the bad guys. You need to sign up for stalkers to invade your games, and players must win a game in which a stalker tracks them before they can start a game in that role.

The stalker is not as powerful as the form, but if he plays his cards correctly, he can summon the form much earlier than normal, while at the same time exploiting resources from the map and giving the enemies extra sight. These unpredictable horror experiences and the traditions that bind them all together are great.

I like ARG style campaigns, but I hate it when they tend to announce a movie or game, and then fade into nothing. The Blackout Club on the other hand, is a much more ambitious project. It may possibly continue for as long as it is sustainable for the developer issue to maintain the workload for recording responses. To engage with the community of the game to exchange notes about what I find and to hypothesize what may happen is part of the fun.

The problem is that the rest of the game does not live up to these highlights. The minute-to-minute game of The Blackout Club is rough.


  The Blackout Club - The view of a player showing a dodgy drone controller in one hand. Spiral stairs lead to Beton.w

Environments change from suburbs to mysterious underground facilities.
Question LLC on Polygon

The missions are repeated, mostly turning to evading enemies. Sometimes sleepwalkers dodge their way to climb over fences and then move back and forth. It's often hard to tell what to do when an enemy is on my tail. Often I just run away and then sit down somewhere until they leave me alone.

If the figure shows up with the intention of possessing me and turning me into an AI-controlled thrall, I can only imagine running away aimlessly. I'm not sure hiding works, and the game does not give me enough feedback to figure it out. The way around Redacre is questionable. Sometimes I jump over a fence and get stuck in some trees, or I miss a certain way to the exit and hop for a while from rocks. A suggested path is also not the best . sometimes I followed a path just to climb a fence and find myself at a locked door.

At some point I made a cool shot: I used my personal drone to fly into a chokepoint and sound the alarm Sneak up behind an enemy and steal the mission target … but the enemy is spinning only in fast circles.

Bring a friend or couple with you.

The cooperative element of the game is designed to add complexity, and it can be a lot of fun to land with friends or chatty people in a group. There are also great incentives to group up: Improved horror experiences do not appear in solo games, and there is an XP multiplier for each additional player in your group. In this way you also get extra hands. All players have the same goal, and a friend can greatly facilitate intrusion into a home or distracting an enemy.

However, playing with a quiet or unpleasant group is disoriented and frustrating. I let a player participate in a game and loudly admitted that he had not played the tutorial and did not want to play. Then he shrieked and asked a lot of basic questions before he made us shapeshift. Often seasoned players will continue and achieve goals while I find my booth. There are only marginal benefits to staying with a team you do not know, and the game does not encourage you to work together too much.


  The Blackout Club - A player sees the various items available in the game either via an Hero Tool or a random selection on the card.

The depiction of objects and facts in the game is charming and well executed.
Question LLC on Polygon

The various heroic powers also do not interact well with each other. If I grab a grappling hook, I can jump to higher levels, but I never felt that I was offering my group a substantial new route that would not be accessible via Sims Hopping. With the Stun Gun, I can knock enemies off, but it's awkward to be challenged to show up with an enemy if it's not reactively triggered.

While The Blackout Club is released today, the title has just entered a phase in Steam Early Access and we can expect more updates. Just because 1.0 has been entered does not mean that the game has reached the finish line. There is more work to be done.

I still love The Blackout Club for its ambition, even though its basic design or lack of glamor fail me. It's a wonderfully strange game that wields creepy teen horror and social features and balances so many of its stumbling blocks.

The Blackout Club is now available on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. The game has been reviewed with a final PC download code from Question LLC. Further information on Polygon's Ethics Policy can be found here .


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