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The Outlast Trials Lore and Ending Explained

A free Reagent?
Image via Red Barrels

A fight for supremacy, the Cold War began. The citizens of the United States of America would never be the same. As the streets lay waste to the hopeless, Murkoff Corporation swooped in to take those who felt like their luck had finally ran out. Having nothing really left to live for, a propaganda poster placed at the right place but the wrong time lured in folk just looking for warmth, comfort and a bit of money to get through the days. But no one could prepare them for what Murkoff Facility has in store. From human experiments to the literal torture provided within the stimuli, those who went inside never came out. But those who somehow made it out alive were not the same person that went into Murkoff to begin with. If you had to live through torture day in day out with the supposed promise that someday you could leave, would you do it? This is Vincent’s guide on the lore and ending in The Outlast Trials.

The Story of The Outlast Trials

The story begins with an short demonstration of the use of propaganda on the poor folk that had nothing left to live for. Feeling trapped and lost, they head into Murkoff Corporation, a place that would not have the infamous title it gained in the past two games. Because at this point in time of the Cold War, no one know of Murkoff’s dark plans. What we know from Outlast 1 is that it is set in the 21st century, meaning that The Outlast Trials is a directly prequel to the story of the first Outlast. We can assume that the events in The Outlast Trials is within Colarado, later erecting the Mount Massive Asylum from the first game, decades later. This means that whatever they got up to inside the Facility in some way worked to their advantage.

The luring of the innocent, poor and vulnerable worked with their propaganda claiming to be a charitable outreach. With a promise of giving their patients a purpose, those who subscribed to this idea ended up within a concrete building, no windows and doors but a promise that if you complete the Programs you can go home. With their vision compromised by a rag, those taken by Murkoff quickly learn that these experiments were more along the lines of acts of torture and that peaceful, kind and safe practices were not an option from the ‘qualified’ staff.

The Inhuman Experimentations of the Program

The Outlast Trials were human experiments that were conducted to purposely alter the patient’s mental and physical code. Forced to partake in gruesome and terrifying experiments that were a little too lifelike. They would soon learn that everything they could see and feel was very real. The strange gas that caused hallucinations and the very hostile, inhuman and insane agents that would move in to stop you from completing the trials were all too real for the participants. For those who take part, they would later learn that altering your biology was possible by the kind folk at Murkoff Corporation. This lets you learn new abilities through installing Rigs and Prescriptions. This kind of altering however would have a forever effect on anyone who used them. But this was all part of Murkoff’s plan.

Outside of the Multiplayer Game, we see the story of The Outlast Trials play out through cutscenes. The protagonist is taken off the streets, placed inside a van and put through excruciating surgeries that would alter his mind forever. As all patients around him are killed off, he stays strong enough to beg for his life, prompting the antagonist, Hendrick Joliet Easterman to manipulate him even further through pretending to be his friend in a time of need. Another surgery is performed in which the Night-Vision Camera is drilled directly into the protagonist’s temple, implying that the patient is ready to head into the experiments. With all of their information about their life collected, the best assumption you can make is that from the real world’s POV, you have vanished but no one will remember you.

The goal of The Outlast Trials is to mould the person into something completely unlike any normal human being. Through the experimentations, surgeries and torture, Murkoff will only let you leave once you have been on the ‘journey’ of rebirth. The initial experiment within the Mansion is made to make the patient forget about who they are, what makes them human, be that a good person or bad. Murkoff wants you to destroy your past self through the literal destruction of your records so that you can become something new.

Related: Can You Play The Outlast Trials Solo/ Single-Player? 

The Trials

Each trial asks the patient to perform wrong acts, punishing the good that we typically see in people. All acting as a form of brainwashing, the Programs that you go through are to shape you into a terrible person who will happily inflict pain against others just to survive for longer or to appease Easterman. The agents who chase after you and attempt to kill you in every trial are failed experiments who are used to torment new patients instead of being killed.

The first trial asks patients to eliminate the snitch who is a whistleblower against Murkoff Corporation. Your job is to punish the snitch through electrocution. The next trial has you punish children who have been portrayed to you as bad and must be punished to learn better. The final trial gets you to purify the children through teaching them new stimuli, all of which are bad but deemed ‘appropriate’ and must be used to teach them ‘obedience’.

All of the trials are used to brainwash the patient into committing horrendous acts to spread their ideology. The Outlast series is known for mixing religion in with the horror, where antagonists follow their beliefs to the point of body mutilation, murdering and committing heinous sexual crimes. Those who stand in your way in the experiments were failed subjects who perhaps did not reach the grades they were meant to, or outwardly appeared too unstable to go back into normal society and blend in until the time was right to do Murkoff’s bidding.

The Reagents and Failed Experiments

Mother Gooseberry and Leland Coyle are two key failed subjects that roam the Police Station, Mansion and Fun Park, acting as the leading antagonists of the trials. These however show their own stories through their behavior. Gooseberry, who would have previously been a kind, caring and maternal figure for children is transformed into a monstrous killer who takes pleasure in punishing ‘naughty kids’ by brutally killing them. She is forced to roam the Fun Park in which she protects her animatronic children, acting as a permanent torturous setting for Gooseberry to live on as she forever witnesses her children being killed by new patients.

Leland Coyle is a former police officer who would have taken pride in his work on the force. The experiments turned Coyle into a sadistic man who loves the thrill of chasing ‘suspects’ to then use his stun baton to inflict ‘criminal punishment’ to those who get in his way. The trials had brainwashed and used the Reagents biggest fears against them to transform them into cold killers that would stop at nothing to just get some peace. The Skinner Man who appears through the breathing in of hallucinogenic gas likely represents Easterman as the mastermind behind it all, controlling his patients and pushing them past their limit.

The Ending: A Person Reborn

The Outlast Trials ends once the protagonist (you) earn enough Release Tokens to enter the Rebirth Portal through the Facility’s main exit. Once inside, you get transported to a place filled with water. Acting similar to that of the birthing period of babies inside the womb, filled with liquid. You emerge from the water and stand on it, appearing like another religious symbol in the game. As you run towards the light, the rebirthing process is finally complete. You awake from your bed, reborn into something new. Something we can only assume is hiding its true intention behind the curtain, much like the beginning of The Outlast Trials. The question is, when will the curtain open to reveal your darkest intentions brainwashed into you through Murkoff?

Murkoff promised you freedom and you got it but at what cost? Yes you are not trapped to live the rest of your days in the Facility like Gooseberry and Coyle but are you really much different to those who are still trapped inside? We know that Murkoff will later open an Asylum with dark intentions to keep those inside mentally and physically destroyed beyond repair. Whilst a lot of the imagery inside the trials appears as a hallucination, the ending of the first Outlast game demonstrates a very supernatural and powerful entity that requires a host to survive. Does this mean that Murkoff had mastered the technology of Nanites to be used inside those that followed the same ideologies of the Corporation?

It appears that although you are now free from the experiments, the grasp that Murkoff has on you has not loosened one bit. The reality of the situation is that you have experienced so much brainwashing, abuse and absorbed hallucinogenic substances that through repeated use would leave a person unaware of what was real or fake, that there is no returning to normal life. You may walk down the same streets you did before, you may even try going back to work again, but the lost feeling you felt at the beginning is nothing compared to what you feel now. The question you really should be asking is that you might be the first of the Reborn, but how many followed you in your footsteps? How many Reagents are out there in the world, placed back into civilization, waiting for that switch in their head to go off?

Remember that your records at the beginning of the game were destroyed so really, who even are you now?

That was our full explanation of the lore and ending in The Outlast Trials. We hope you enjoyed this read, thank you for looking at this article. For other Outlast Trials guides, feel free to see our related articles here at Gamer Journalist.

About the author

Hadley Vincent

Hadley is a Freelance Writer for Gamer Journalist. They have been with the company since October 2022. With a BSc Honors in Psychology, Hadley focuses their creativity and passion for Video Games by primarily covering Horror, FPS, and anything with a great narrative. You will often find Hadley covering the latest indie horror games or deploying into Call of Duty's DMZ. They love a good story and one that can keep them up at night, be that for its scares or its lore.

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