Have you ever wanted to play as one of those meddling kids who foil the town evildoer? How about doing so with some of your friends? If you love sneaking around backyards and climbing out windows late at night, I think you might just be the sort of person The Blackout Club is looking to recruit.
You live in the small town of Redacre, Virginia, a (fake) community in the (very real) National Radio Quiet Zone. You and your friends have noticed that even though you climb into your nice, comfy beds every night, you somehow wake up covered in mud and definitely not inside your home. The adults brush off your concerns; you’re just sleepwalking, or sneaking out at night and passing out. Then come the curfews, coyotes they say. But you know better.
Redacre runs on a local cell network (thanks to living in the NRQZ) run by the private company CHORUS, meaning you can’t access things like the Internet or Google, so there’s no real hope for any outside assistance. That means the only people you can trust to investigate these strange occurrences are the members of The Blackout Club.
Things That Go Bump in the Night
Before you jump into the thick of things, you’ll get to play through TBC member Bells’ story. This tutorial level gives you a bit of background on the happenings in Hoadly as well as getting you accustomed to the control scheme. It’s a solo operation, so be sure to play this before jumping straight into a coop adventure. Pretty much everything you need to know about the gameplay is covered here, from climbing ledges to ways for escaping capture.
The most useful bit of information to glean from the tutorial (at least for me) were lessons on the major enemies you will encounter during the game. First up are your Sleepers, adults who appear to be sleepwalking, their arms outstretched and eyes closed while listening for bad children up to no good. Moving around as quietly as possible in crouch mode or on carpeted floors is your best way to avoid these common enemies. Next up are your Lucids; these ones pose more of a threat as they can see you if you are in their direct path or lit up at all. Run into either of these groups too often and they will send The Shape your way.
And once The Shape gets you, you’ll become another sleepwalker ready to tattle on your friends.
In the Cards
There are three Hero items you can choose from when starting a mission: the stun gun, a grappling hook, or a crossbow. I personally have been running a stun gun as my main weapon since it seems to be the item most immediately useful. Since the crossbow requires you to locate darts and the grappling hook is only super handy for reaching new heights, it may be helpful for other members of your group to sport one of these, but only if you have three or four players in your group. That could just be my experience so far; you may find other methods work for your particular team.
Aside from your main weaponry, there are other items you can find scattered around Redacre and what lies beneath that will aid you in your missions. Bandages, lockpicks, and tranquilizer darts are just of few of the additional tools at your disposal. These can be obtained from supply crates or locating vending kiosks and trading in some of your hard-earned snacks. You don’t have to use these, and you can only carry so many of them at a time, so choose wisely. Your health is getting low? Maybe you should invest or look for a bandage. However, a teammate may be carrying one and can patch you up a lot sooner. What’s that saying? “Teamwork makes the dream work.”
Leveling up nets you points you can use to unlock special abilities. There are Major and Minor perks you can invest in. Major perks let you hack phones, use surveillance drones, reduce damage, or help you better subdue the enemy, whereas the minor perks allow you to start off a mission carrying certain items or grant other small bonuses that can help you remain undetected.
Rule #29 – The Buddy System
So just how are you going to figure out what is going on with the townsfolk? With secret nightly excursions into town! You can either join or host a session, private or public, whichever you are comfortable with. Up to four players can work together to complete the randomly generated missions in the neighborhood of your choosing. Right now there are three locations available: Hoadly West, Hoadly East, and Old Growth for players level 12+. These maps are fixed, but the whereabouts of supply crates and mission objectives are randomly generated. It’s a good idea to become accustomed to the street maps, but don’t count on a mission object spawning in the same spot every time.
Most missions have at least three parts to them; an example: locate/collect object, place object, head back to base. The pattern is typically to locate something in Redacre, then travel down into the horrific maze below the town to complete the next step, followed by making your way back to the surface and getting to safety. I’ve been able to solo a few of these based on the degree of difficulty. One mission had me repair a drone and collect papers that had been scattered across rooftops, and another disabling speed traps before returning to the train car. Both of these had me firmly above ground the entire time. So when another disable traps mission popped I thought I was golden. I was wrong. This time all of the traps were in The Maze. And I was alone. Needless to say, that mission did not bode well for me. After playing both solo and coop, I firmly believe any time you need to head into The Maze you should have at least one, if not two, friends with you.
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Once you hit level 5, The Blackout Club throws another wrench into things. You can choose to play as a character known as The Stalker. This kid has been working against you for SPEAK-AS-ONE, the voice that seems to be behind whatever is going on in town. I haven’t had too much experience running into these sorts of games yet as it’s only been out for a week on PS4 now and players still seem to be focusing on learning the base gameplay first. I can tell you that The Stalker has his own creepy van tucked away and he will gather evidence and try to impede your missions should you be in a game session that allows for someone to take on that role. The Stalker can only invade some mission types and you can choose to join or create a session that does not allow this role to be active.
If you’re playing The Blackout Club for the horror, boy oh boy! I’ve mentioned SPEAK-AS-ONE, the voice that seems to have all the people in town under its spell at nighttime. Well, that’s not the only voice you will encounter. Other Voices have been known to speak to you while you’re out on a mission, and can be paid tribute at alter back at base. Sometimes these rituals are rewarded with responses from the Voice you’ve chosen to give an offering to. You can hear these prayers and answers after successfully completing a mission and waking up back at the train car.
There are two that I’ve enjoyed interacting with: DANCE-FOR-US and LAUGH-LAST. I think the reason that I’ve heard more dreams with their voices is because I haven’t committed a lot of sins during my missions; I tend to be the “good” player in my group, and when I have been a sinner it tends to be solo missions that I fail, meaning no dreams to visit. DANCE-FOR-US likes music, and LAUGH-LAST wants to hear your jokes.
So far I’ve only run into one game breaking issue. I was playing a solo mission and was too injured to fight off the Sleeper that had caught me. While it was dragging me along, it glitched into one of those circular red booths inside The Maze. In doing so, it didn’t take me past any trash piles so I couldn’t loot for any items I could use to escape with. I waited a few minutes to see if it would get back on its predetermined path but it didn’t so I was forced to quit the session.
There’s a lot going on in The Blackout Club, and while I haven’t seen what the endgame is yet, I am looking forward to playing more of this with my friends. I’m not sold on sacrificing my character to a Voice and starting over just to see my name on the Leaderboards, though. I think I’ll stick to offering small tributes when I find myself in possession of them. If you’re an avid of Dead by Daylight or Friday the 13th player looking for a new challenge, you might want to spend the $30 and take this game for a spin yourself.
The Blackout Club review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.