When I was a young little horror fan, one of the things that occupied my time was playing online horror Flash games. Sadly, Flash has mostly been discontinued, which left a lot of the media I grew up with in the dust. One certain piece of media was The Outbreak. It was basically a movie of sorts (in this case, a short film) that has you making the tough choices your character to make to ensure their survival in an ongoing zombie apocalypse. Sounds familiar? The popular “interactive movie” game franchise The Walking Dead by Telltale comes to mind.
Not to minimize the success and creativity behind the TWD games, but this just goes back to my feelings about the death of Flash. Along with that, buried under the rubble is The Outbreak, a pretty unique experience at the time it came out. Thanks to a Flash-supporting app on my Android device, I’m able to find out if it still holds out.
What Is It?
Directed by Chris Lund, The Outbreak is an “interactive movie” game about a group of survivors trapped in a house as zombie hordes draw closer and closer. You, the player, will dictate where the story goes based on the decisions given to the main character, James.
There was clearly passion behind the making of the game as though it seemed like it was made on a low budget, money was well spent on the production value. I’m talking set design, zombie makeup and gore. Nothing too fancy but it gets the job done.
Though it’s a pretty short game if you know what you’re doing, it offers enough branching paths that extend replay value. Your choices matter and can affect the story significantly. For example, choosing to kill an infected or choosing to leave the house may lead to a different run of the plot but it may also lead you to a dead-end game over, causing you to circle back to your previous choices to see where you went wrong.
You’ll notice I mentioned production value and all that jazz earlier yet this is a game so what gives, right? This is actually a live action FMV game that, of course uses live actors on a real set. That’s another aspect that worked for me as it dodges the uncanny valley elements that come with mid-aughts video game graphics. That said, this choice does come with its own caveats.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK?
As the game does use live action elements, some might feel that the acting can be a bit, ahem, stiff but it works since it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
On the other hand, the short runtime is actually my main problem with the game. I was enjoying myself so much, I was surprised when it ended abruptly. I wanted to be able to explore more of the universe created and get in a bigger adventure. Sadly, the game did not get a follow-up up and may very well be lost in the dead world of Flash games.
WHERE CAN I FIND IT?
If you have a browser that supports Flash, don’t let it go and go to the game’s website. Alternatively, you can find the whole thing on YouTube, compiled by this channel, though I’m not sure if it’s official. The choices aren’t visible at the end of each segment but I’m sure you can easily connect the dots.
I was so happy to have been able to play the game again even on a jittery, barely-working but Flash-supporting mobile browser. It was worth it to get to experience this lost relic once again and get lost in its machinations for a good 9-20 minutes.
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Dustin is a horror fan and sometimes short story writer who hails from the Philippines. He likes a lot of the horror genre but usually goes for slashers and arthouse/slowburn stuff. Currently, he’s trying to make up for lost time in the horror literature world by digesting as many horror books as he can.