Content Warning: Outlast is graphic, as are some of the images of it I’m using in this article.
So, as some of you may know, I’m plagued with a sizable backlog of unfinished video games. Red Barrels’ Outlast was stricken from that list fairly recently, and I wanted to discuss a member of its unkempt cast in commemoration of that.
But let’s first thank everyone who braved its dangerous facility with me:
- Wolfman for, as always, helping with edits and offering valuable commentary.
Set in the dilapidated, dimly-lit Mount Massive Asylum, Outlast tells a grim, bleak story. You’re informed from the get-go that its protagonist, Miles Upshur, is a journalist, not a fighter, leaving him only three options to deal with his aggressors: “run, hide, or die.” And of all of Outlast’s violent inmates, one stands above the rest in his resolve to end Miles’ life.
Chris Walker’s History
Chris Walker is Mount Massive Asylum’s grotesque patrolman, a self-appointed position he takes zealously. His mission is to prevent the Walrider – the seemingly omnipresent presence the building is haunted by – from escaping, and his strategy to ensure that happens is by killing anyone he sees with fervor. Walker isn’t the architect behind the sinister events that inspired the construction of the asylum, but he’s nevertheless the most recurring antagonist in Outlast, making him Miles’ personal nemesis. Among all of the disfigured inmates – callously labeled “Variants” by Murkoff personnel – inhabiting the building, Walker is the undisputed strongest. He even repurposed the library into his personal trophy room, storing the decapitated heads of his victims along its shelving.
Interestingly, Walker’s appearance changed significantly throughout Outlast’s development; Walker could be seen hunting Miles throughout its first trailer, bearing a figure more in line with the standard Variants than the tank we grew acquainted with. Once Marc-Antoine Senecal, Outlast’s principal character modeler, joined the project, he underwent the intricate procedure of redesigning Walker. Initially, Outlast’s mascot bore disfigurements born out of harlequin baby disease and fibro dysplasia, evolving afterwards to emphasise his tenure as a soldier before gaining his potbelly. Chains were also added per the request of Red Barrels’ audio team, as players would need something to quickly alert them if Walker was nearby.
We meet Walker early in the game, when the colossus startles Miles as he’s trying to squeeze between a tight passageway. Subsequently, Walker grabs and tosses Miles – “little pig,” he dubs him – down several floors, seemingly killing the misfortunate reporter. It doesn’t, however, and when Walker learns of this, he takes it upon himself to locate the intruder. As Miles wandered throughout establishment, Walker was always (somehow) lurking just around the corner, confronting Miles on multiple occasions. Walker’s final scare occurred near Outlast’s climax, in the facility’s underground lab. Walker grabs a preoccupied Miles, threateningly telling the journalist that there is no escape, until the Walrider – the entity Miles was attempting to flee – effortlessly dispatches the ogre. Miles, in spite of everything he’s endured, is sympathetic to Walker in his death.
While much of Walker’s history isn’t directly communicated in-game, Outlast’s collectables do flesh him out, discussing the Afghanistan veteran’s anxiety-provoked self-mutilation and “manic exaggeration of military security protocol.” Set concurrently with and expanding upon the base game’s events, Walker also appears briefly in the Outlast: Whistleblower DLC campaign, briefly antagonizing its protagonist, Waylon Park. Moreover, Walker’s backstory, including his fixation on pigs and the onset of his homicidal tendencies, is further explored in the six-issue Outlast: The Murkoff Account comic book series.
So, what’re my thoughts on Walker?
It’s not uncommon for horror-themed games to posit their protagonists against hulking colossuses, with Resident Evil’s Nemesis perhaps the most emblematic example. Works in other mediums likewise harbor their own sizable antagonists, such as Halloween’s Michael Myers, whose intimidating aura Senecal was hoping to channel through Walker. And, thankfully, Red Barrels did succeed in creating a menacing foe.
Walker is not a heroic figure; his methods fall short of adhering to any elementary facsimile of decency, nor does he exert any charismatic or admirable qualities. Yet, underneath his violent, uncouth protocol and thinning sanity, he had a legitimate concern, a genuine motivation fuelling his actions; Walker attempted – and failed – to prevent the Walrider from escaping. In his own demented perspective, Walker presumably thought he was performing a commendable public service as he went about doing his deeds.
Outlast, by design, is intended to instill anxiety by making Miles physically helpless and without access to any weapons, so anything and everything poses a threat. While Outlast’s shtick – and, by extension, Walker’s – did grow tiring as the game continued, I do believe its most visible character was an effective fixture within its framework. Walker’s presence dutifully instilled unease, and players likely suffered many deaths at his hands. Consequently, helplessly witnessing the Walrider dispatch Walker with as much ease as Walker had when he decapitated us effectively set the stage for Outlast’s final act.
While Outlast itself certainly has a future, Walker likely does not. As the series hasn’t outright dealt with the supernatural, it’s unlikely Walker will ever be revived in any fashion. However, he will live on through spiritual successors, as Outlast 2 has an analogous terror who functions similarly to him. Conversely, a prequel that delved into the character’s backstory would be superfluous and unneeded.
Chris Walker is gone, but he left behind a bold legacy, guaranteeing he will be remembered by all who’ve braved Mount Massive Asylum.
Congratulations, Chris! I did not mourn your death.
Outlast’s world is certainly an interesting one, and we’ll tackle one of its surviving ghouls another time. However, while I am rather intrigued with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, I’m not quite ready to revisit Smash’s universe just yet either. We’ll instead take a journey to a wonderland next time, a domain that’s far more colorful and cheerful than Mount Massive Asylum. Until then, goodnight, friends!
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