Outer Wilds Reviews

  • WhyattThrashWhyattThrash357,744
    12 Jun 2019 17 Mar 2020
    24 3 4
    An open world, exploration puzzle action-adventure. In space. And a really good one, at that
    This game is tough to review. Not because it’s a bad game, quite the opposite. But because the less you know about it, the better your experience will be. It’s also quite hard to categorize, but if I would try to describe it it'd be an “open world, exploration puzzle action-adventure in space”.

    You wake up on a world, and soon learn that you’re an astronaut about to leave for space. You receive little guidance or information up front, and from that point it’s entirely up to you to unearth the worlds’ mechanics and story. How? Simply by exploring the universe and worlds in it.

    Is it worth your time?
    If you like exploring worlds, solving puzzles and mysteries, and the concept of being alone and helpless in an infinite void doesn’t fill you with unspeakable dread, then yes. Definitely.

    If that’s enough to convince you, stop reading here. From this point, mechanics will be explored that are more fun to figure out yourself.

    Stop reading yet? No? Ok, fair enough.

    External image
    Space isn't just emptiness and death, there's also marshmallows

    The hook
    As you progress through the game, you’ll learn that your universe is stuck in a roughly 20 minute long time loop. You can then attempt to figure out what has happened in the universe up to that point, and what actually happens when those minutes are up.

    The loop initially feels somewhat annoying and restricting, as you feel like you'll continually be restarting what you were doing. This annoyance is thankfully mitigated in a few ways.

    For example, any discovery that you made in a previous loop remains unlocked. There is also so many things to explore, that you often simply by chance and circumstance end up having a completely different approach than last time. And as you become more proficient at navigating the world, the time loop often ends up being far more time than you'll actually need.

    External image
    One of the many interesting and breathtaking environments you'll find yourself in

    The world
    While the breadth of the universe can feel overwhelming at first, you’ll figure out that it actually is pretty dense with information. This density of both information and events leads to sometimes stumbling over discoveries simply by accident, and showcases just how clever the developers were in constructing their world and story.

    The story and mysteries are explained partly by progressing through the world, and partly through a translation tool that can translate alien texts. These contribute to filling up your ship’s log, which as it fills start giving you the pieces to solve the puzzle of the events, as well as giving you hints as to what's left to explore.

    You’ll also soon learn that while the universe is colourful and rendered in crisp, cute graphics, it is also unforgiving and highly lethal. The time loop will often feel like a godsend when you find yourself in an impossible situation. Like casually drifting through space towards nothingness without a ship, just to name one terrifying example.

    External image
    The translation tool helps figure out what's been happening on the worlds you explore

    The experience
    You control your space farer from a first person perspective, both in and outside your ship. You’ll need to become fairly proficient with both controlling your spaceship as well as the platforming (aided by a jet pack) to navigate the world, but far from becoming an expert to solve the puzzles. The only navigation that I'd call really difficult is to unlock one single achievement.

    Sound and music are also beautifully crafted, and sparsely used just to enhance the experience.

    Achievements
    Achievements are a bit of a wasted opportunity. With all of the cool things one can do in this world, it’s a shame more things weren’t picked that one would actually try. Like for example:

    *** Spoiler - click to reveal ***

    Save for one or two, they’re not hard to do though. Some are a bit annoying, but not enough that it brings down the overall experience.

    Verdict
    This game, hard enough it is to describe, is a solid 5/5. After playing through it, I find nothing not to like about the gameplay as such. It’s a stellar game that deserves much more attention than it’s gotten.

    That said, the game isn't for everyone. There's basically no hand-holding, you are completely on your own to figure our what to do and why. If that type of exploration and solving mysteries is not your thing at all, then you'll probably hate it.

    Pros
    + Beautiful, engrossing world
    + Interesting mechanics
    + Puzzles that are “just right” in difficulty
    + Interesting story that can surprise you with “aha” moments

    Cons
    - The looping feels restricting at first, but that feeling wears off with time.
    - Achievements are hit or miss. Some are a wasted opportunity, one is unnecessarily difficult, and others are unnecessarily time consuming.

    If you liked this, you might also enjoy:
    ...can’t think of much, really. Haven’t played anything quite like it. The Witness is a tiny bit similar, I guess.

    EDIT: Added images, now that the game has started allowing sharing of screenshots and videos
    5.0
    Showing all 4 comments.
    Nick S AdminNice review. Totally agree with your aproach to the achievements. Should have been more both in quality and quantity. Some have weird gamescore too. I hope a dlc/title update will update the content more.
    Posted by Nick S Admin on 13 Jun 19 at 21:50
    x Mataeus xGood review; great game!
    Posted by x Mataeus x on 16 Jun 19 at 21:18
    LxVaiNThe review is just right. And i feel you. This game is so unique that it becomes very hard to describe it properly. The thing is it‘s all about the feelings you have while playing this game. The sensation, the fear, the curiosity...it became one of my favorite games of all time!
    Posted by LxVaiN on 29 Dec 19 at 09:36
    Boots OrionExcellent review. I haven't played the game, but you make it sound like I should. In a weird way, the hook seems similar to Minit - but I'm assuming the experience is much different. haha
    Posted by Boots Orion on 08 Mar at 03:05