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Outer wilds [2020 -- Moebius Digital]

Started by Starfox, Jun 03, 2023, 03:39 PM

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Starting Outer Wilds, you may have the feeling to go into a little game worth a few hours of fun but not much more than that. Little do you know, you rapidly embark on a journey that will make you explore an entire solar system, in and out, discovering various interesting locales and more than a few ways to screw yourself up and die doing so. Exploration is one of the major fun factors in this game, solving puzzles and locating clues to unveil a big mystery being the other. A third thing would be dying but it all depends on how you feel about dying; if it's fun to you then rejoice, you'll be doing that a lot.

Why am I rewinding?

The story goes like this: you're the newest (and youngest, one would assume) space ship pilot of Outer Wilds Ventures, some very amateurish looking (most of their technology is based on wood and duct tape, you really can't go more amateurish than that) space program dedicated to explore the solar system you're living in and blow up quite a few things along the way, accidentally, and some times not so accidentally, one of those things being, occasionally, your own ship.

So there you go, prepared (mostly) for your first trip into space. You go smell roses (or the closest equivalent) around your village on the planet Timber Hearth (by the way, you're a "Hearthian"), say goodbye to some people, partake in a last couples of training sessions if you wish (not mandatory but skip them at your own risk if it's your first time) and grab some launch codes. On the way a weird looking statue -- from a species that is thought to have inhabited the solar system before your own, the Nomai -- grabs your attention in a very weird way and seems to trigger something in you. But you're too excited by your future adventures to really care, right? So off you go, you run to your space ship and take-off.

About 20 minutes later, your sun goes supernova. The kicker is though, you don't die, you just seem to travel back in time and find yourself at the beginning of the story, just before launching. You also appear to be the only one knowing that a supernova occurred, or that everybody died, for that matter.

Yes, I know what you already think: "time loop", and you'd be absolutely correct. I, generally, don't like games featuring time loops because most of the time it's badly done and tends to get boring. Time loop is a feature that may works great in movies and books but in general translates poorly in a gameplay setting. However, there are always exceptions to a rule and I discovered no less than two of them in the past year, which is quite amazing to me. Outer Wilds is one (the other, we'll discuss at a later date).

I must admit, I had my own doubts first going into this game because I already knew it featured a time loop and, as I said, I don't really like those. But once engaged in the story and the exploration it seems to seamlessly integrates into the gameplay to become something familiar, up to the point that you might actually welcome the next supernova coming your way. In fact in some cases you'll be praying for it to occur sooner than usual.

Featured Let's Play for Outer WIlds

For those of you who already played the game and would like to bask in past glory reliving it vicariously through another pair of fresh eyes, or for those who don't know the game but would just like to see how it is played in fun and style (beware of spoilers though), I recommend you have a peek at Liera Plays Youtube Channel, and Liera's current blind let's play of Outer Wilds. Below is the first video from her Outer Wilds playlist to wet your appetite.

Click the "Watch on Youtube" button or the "Youtube" logo while watching the video and browse Liera's channel for more!

The Right Stuff

But do you have what it takes to unveil the mystery of the supernova and its time loop? Because that is what you'll be doing for the next few dozens of hours after starting the game. Sure, you can grab a loop-off from time to time to relax, smell the fumes of your rocket engine and sip whatever weird brew Hearthians drink on their off-time, why the heck not? After the next proper sun tan (and I really don't know how that works on a blue skin, so don't ask -- yep Hearthians are blue, like Smurfs, didn't I mention that?), you'll be back anyway.

Mostly though, you'll be scouring the planets from time loop to time loop in search for clues. Most of those planets are not especially friendly or welcoming to lifeforms, and some are even downright deadly if you don't pay attention, but dying is always a risk with extreme sports, so what can you do? At one point though, you'll find yourself with enough clues, connections and ideas to solve the whole thing. And about that, clues you discovered are transferred with you from time loop to time loop so you'll never lose them, which is a blessing; I can't even begin to think of the mess if this game wasn't designed that way.

Outer Wilds is also a freestyle kind of game. Don't expect it to hold your hand or tell you where to go, or what to do (there's barely a tutorial in there and you're already lucky that your ship works as intended), it's up to you to build your travel plan and stick to it... or not. The whole solar system is yours to explore and there is no right or wrong way in which you can go about it (well, maybe just try to not hit the sun with your ship). If you find yourself in a place where you die rather more frequently than usual, then you'll probably figure out soon enough by yourself that it's possibly because you're doing something wrong -- which is likely -- or you're missing some clue from somewhere else -- which is equally likely. But even without the necessary knowledge, you may end up achieving what you want either by accident, or because you are "that" awesome.

So explore the unknown freely, do whatever you want and gather the clues in any order you want (don't be afraid, they're not numbered and they rarely bite  -- although always checking your fingers after grabbing one might be a good idea).

The primary goal of the whole endeavor (and that's the only bit that is absolutely mandatory): have fun while doing it.

Echoing thoughts

Once you're done with the base game, there is also a DLC (that you can start before finishing the game, but it's all a matter of taste) titled Echoes of the Eye. I won't be reviewing that one now, because I'm still in the process of playing it, but that will come soon enough.

But back to Outer Wilds, this game, unassuming at first glance, is a real diamond in the rough. You'll have to dig a little to appreciate it, maybe apply some polish around the edges, let it get under your skin so to speak, but once you're in love, it's difficult to look back. If you like puzzles, mysteries, exploration, being surprised, have a lot of unexpected fun and of course, let's not forget, dying a lot from supernova exposure and various other factors, some times comically, you can't go wrong with Outer Wilds.

So go grab your ship, buckle up, and fly unsafe... very unsafe ;D 

Guess what it means!


Bumped up by admin. Reason: published time consistency.

Guess what it means!