The Outbreak (Browser)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Rack your brains before they get racked for you! Hearkening back to Choose-Your-Own-Adventure gamebooks and horror FMV titles like Night Trap, The Outbreak documents a fateful evening for a group of survivors of a sudden plague of George A. Romero-style zombies with a hunger for steaming player brains.

The player controls James, a cool-headed everyman in the midst of bloody, bloody chaos, periodically presented with breaks in the action to make choices that will influence the outcome of the plot. For example, the game opens with our group taking refuge in a house and coming to terms with Dave's zombie injury; tough-guy Seth wants to finish him off, so as to prevent Dave from being a fifth column infiltrating the house, while Kelly wants to attempt to heal his wounds. With whom shall James side?

Add the loose cannon of Alex to the mix and all the ingredients are in place for the player to play through ten decision points between twenty-one scenes, six of which are literal dead-ends and two of which are winning endings of survival, one more successful than the other.

The game is entirely deterministic, but free from moralizing; doing "the right thing" is no sure ticket for survival. Different plot branches feature parallel action -- the big zombie push into the house will occur whether you rustle up wood to barricade with or just push furniture in front of the windows, but whether Dave is still around to help you fend them off or not depends on whether or not you endorsed his euthanising as your very first choice. All the same, some scenes identical to those in parallel plot forks appear to arbitrarily feature different outcomes, demanding persistence on the part of the dedicated player who wants to see all 17 minutes of footage through rigorous playthrough.


The Outbreak Browser Zombies burst in!
The Outbreak Browser A plot tree indicating explored and unexplored narrative forks... and plenty of dead ends.
The Outbreak Browser Pausing while the video queues up
The Outbreak Browser Picking one choice over others

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Relying on do-it-yourself pre- and post-production and drawing on the skills of zombie enthusiasts in the Portland, Oregon filmmaking community, all footage for this game was shot over six days (five of principal photography, one to re-shoot an end scene) for $35 000... ten thousand over their original budget (squeezed out of their savings!)

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  • Play The Outbreak (Free, legal play of the game through your Flash-equipped web browser.)
Pseudo_Intellectual (45174) added The Outbreak (Browser) on Oct 06, 2008