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The Blackout Club

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
The Blackout Club Game Poster Image
Terrifyingly fun, random co-op horror experience.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Though game is a fight for survival at its core, there are also strong themes of friendship and teamwork. To succeed, players need to work together, watch each other's backs.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While adults in game are portrayed in a sinister manner, part of a grand conspiracy, the kids come together with clever ideas, investigative skills, bonds of friendship. But there's also option to play as kid who instead works for the enemy, entering other players' games and sabotaging their efforts.

Ease of Play

Controls are intuitive, with plenty of on-screen prompts, a healthy tutorial to learn overall basics of gameplay. Difficulty comes in procedurally generated missions, which can sometimes stack the deck against players. Also, while it's difficult to go solo, it can be almost as difficult to find a cohesive team online.

Violence

Most of the time, players are attempting to avoid direct contact with creatures in game. But players can use attacks to tackle, subdue some enemies, and use weapons like stun guns and tranquilizer darts. While there's very little gore, some scenes show blood, usually smeared on walls or floor.

Sex
Language

Some profanity occasionally appears in game's dialogue, such as "damn" and "s--t." Also, in-game communication can open up players to offensive language from other players.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Blackout Club is a first-person co-op horror game available for download on Windows PCs. Players team up with up to three other players as they explore a small, suburban town, seeking out evidence of strange events while avoiding humanlike creatures hunting for them. Although players try to avoid direct conflict wherever possible, there's still violence in the game, including kids using weapons and other attacks to stun the creatures, and the creatures stalking the kids and dragging them away when captured. There's no gore, but there are some scenes and environments that feature bloody imagery. The game's dialogue also includes occasional profanity.

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What's it about?

Most teens would call it a nightmare to live in a small suburban town with no cell service, no internet, and no connection to the outside world, but for the teen members of THE BLACKOUT CLUB, that's only the start of the nightmare. Something much more sinister is going on. Some kids have vanished without a trace, while others suffer blackouts, waking up with chunks of missing time and no recollection of what's happened. As the newest recruit to the Blackout Club, it's up to you and your friends to investigate the strange events, uncover the truth behind the blackouts, and record evidence of the dark conspiracy that's lurking in the shadows. But even more frightening than the scares you uncover is the horror that lies just beyond: an invisible force of evil stalking from beyond the veil of reality that can be seen only when your eyes are closed. In a world where you can't trust your senses, you'll need to rely on your friends to survive.

Is it any good?

This horror game manages to scare up frighteningly fun gameplay with a clever premise that will keep you playing and screaming. The Blackout Club strikes a balance between in-your-face scares that make you jump out of your seat and scream and the suspense of wondering just what's lurking in the shadows. That's alongside a creepy atmosphere and a bit of old-school Scooby-Doo-style detecting to craft a genuinely frightening experience that's best played with the lights off and a few good friends for support. That last part is by design, thanks to its focus on co-op play. There's something uniquely special about working with your buddies to sneak past the sightless creatures lumbering about, only to have someone stumble into something and draw everything's attention. Or worse, watching as your teammate is hunted down by The Shape, a relentless, invisible stalker that can be "seen" only when players close their eyes. Do you try to rush in to help, becoming a new target? Or do you leave your friends to their fate to secure that last piece of crucial evidence needed to win the mission?

Admittedly, The Blackout Club is a bit of a slow burn. The Prologue mission, which is your main tutorial and the story setup, takes just shy of an hour to complete. Even then, it barely scratches the surface of some of the game's later mechanics and completely skips things like special abilities. Thankfully, on-screen prompts help newcomers figure out the nuances without becoming too complex. Although the town's main layout doesn't change, each mission (match) is procedurally generated. A door you ran through last game might be locked in this one, or an area you had a clear path through once might suddenly be packed with foes. This is great for keeping players on their toes overall. But the randomized nature can sometimes make missions feel nearly impossible to accomplish. Even so, the tension and exhilaration of the moments are sure to keep fright fans coming back for more.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about teamwork. What are some ways that games can teach players to work together, and how can that teamwork carry over to the outside world?

  • Why is it fun to be scared? What are some ways that games use fear to entertain?

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