The Blackout Club is a multiplayer game with a great concept but questionable execution. Acting as a stealth title and boasting a unique premise, The Blackout Club blends core sneaking mechanics with a handful of stock missions that slowly reveal more about the world around you as you play. Held back by some clumsy AI, a repetitive mission loop and a distinct lack of challenge until deep in the experience, The Blackout Club is an experiment worth checking out but unlikely to be something you stick around with for the long haul when the game ironically becomes much more enjoyable.
The game itself begins with a brief prologue which I do recommend you play through first. This not only gets you accustomed to the controls, it also happens to be one of the highlights of the game. It’s here you’re thrust into the world and learn the mechanics of the game, as well as experiencing a healthy dose of horror along the way. This alone will take you about 40 minutes or so to complete before you enter the online arena and team up with 3 other players to tackle a series of missions. This will either make or break your experience.
The missions themselves are pretty repetitive, revolving around evading guards while photographing evidence or collecting gear. There are some bonus items to help flesh out the areas but given one player can actually charge through the levels and collect everything, the experience feels somewhat fragmented. As I played through the game, one particular round saw me hiding out in a house and evading a guard while two other players managed to complete the entire level without me. While this was certainly helpful for gaining experience points and leveling up (more on that later), the game itself feels designed to keep everyone together but fails to really hold onto that premise, especially since all players must arrive at the exit together to finish the level.
Admittedly, the game itself is quite good fun for the first few hours but your longevity with this will ultimately depend on how invested you are in the world and the concept. I personally really like the idea and feel The Blackout Club would seriously benefit from a separate story mode to capitalize on this. Given how experimental the online component is, and the disappointing lack of variety with the areas themselves, a stand-alone segment fleshing out the prologue may be just what this game needs. Still, the online areas do have some nice journal entries which unlock as you level up, and these do actually help to present more of this world.
There is some depth to the mechanics though, as you choose a core skill group to begin with that helps you in your quests. From being able to sneak more effectively through to taking out guards and using stun guns, there’s a good variety inherent with this that does allow for some different play-styles going through. As you progress through the levels, more skill points unlock that allow you to flesh out this area, including leveling up existing skills or taking on supporting items to aid you, including health kits and ammunition for your tranquilizer. It’s a neat little addition and aesthetically presenting this as a set of cards on a table, certainly reinforces the idea that these are kids being thrust into the world.
Aesthetically, The Blackout Club utilizes all the usual tricks you’d expect from this genre, including a flashlight for your phone and a visually pleasing neighbourhood to explore. The houses have some nice little details included in them too, while the online lobby has some nice additions, including pinned posters on the wall and stacks of bottles you can knock over before embarking on levels. All of this is backed up by a decent lighting system and a good draw distance that helps the world feel a little more alive than it otherwise would.
The enemies are designed quite well too but of course given this is an online title, for fluidity the graphical detail isn’t quite as pristine as one may expect. Personally, I have no issue with this as graphics come second to gameplay but given the mechanics feel like they need some touching up, the graphics fail to really prop up this game as much as it perhaps should.
It’s not all bad news though as the game does become more challenging the longer you play. Extra enemies, different areas and tougher challenges await those who persevere with this one but whether you’ll make it that far to get to the good stuff, remains to be seen. Games live or die by their 30 second gameplay loop and unfortunately The Blackout Club hasn’t quite nailed this to make the grind worth persevering with. With a bit of refinement in the mission structure and a more punishing set of rules, including sticking together in arenas, The Blackout Club could be a sleeper hit this year.
Given the game is constantly being updated, it’s a title I’ve held off from reviewing for a while, knowing how progressive and organic these experiences can be as they’re shaped by the fan-base and core audience. With active developers at the helm, I have no doubt the game will find its market but whether it’ll have the mass appeal it needs to sustain its lifespan remains to be seen. The price tag is a little steep if I’m honest but given the constant updates and changes being made to the title, The Blackout Club could become a neat little multiplayer title in the future. As it stands right now though, the game feels like a work in progress and pales in comparison to other multiplayer titles out there.
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