Review

Out There

A Little Too Lost In Space
by Matt Miller on Mar 18, 2014 at 12:50 PM
Publisher: Mi-Clos Studio
Developer: Mi-Clos Studio
Release:
Rating: 12+
Reviewed on: iOS
Also on: Android

I love the idea of a roguelike choose-your-own-adventure, and that’s exactly what Out There is shooting for. Players control a solitary astronaut flung into the depths of outer space, struggling to maintain enough fuel to limp along to the next star system. Along the way, brief narrative interludes inject personality, while the maintenance of the ship’s systems and supplies demands careful strategy. Sadly, the best plans commonly end in a game over screen; luck plays too big a role in the unfolding drama, and the story I was excited to bring to a conclusion was cut short because of questionable procedural generation. 

Players who enjoyed Mass Effect’s planet mining should enjoy Out There. The gameplay loop involves warping to a star system and systematically extracting the fuel and minerals that can extend your trip. You make interesting decisions about how to fill your too-small cargo hold – is that new gravitational lens more valuable than a full stack of hull-repairing iron? Unfortunately, the game rarely provides the info you need to make these decisions. It’s often up to chance if you jump into a system that contains too little fuel to let you escape, and a precious technology in one runthrough could be nearly useless the next time around. 

The story choices suffer under the same dilemma. It’s exciting to meet a new alien race on a mysterious planet, but the system by which you learn alien languages resets every game, so you rarely have any idea what these lifeforms are trying to say to you, and your responses are random. Even so, many of the narrative moments in Out There are intriguing, painting a potent picture of isolation and loneliness punctuated by brief moments of action. 

Many repeated playthroughs of Out There allow for a marginally higher survival rate, but the arbitrary chance for failure on an otherwise perfect run can be infuriating. If that indiscriminate failure is part of what you enjoy in roguelikes, Out There is a fascinating attempt to combine strategy with storytelling, and a worthy distraction for science-fiction enthusiasts. 

7.5
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Game Informer's Review System
Concept Warp from one star to the next, hoping not to run out of resources before your exploration is complete
Graphics Cool hand-drawn sci-fi art with a comic book sensibility, but the visual presentation is repetitive
Sound Atmospheric music helps sell the outer space theme
Playability The tutorial offers only the basics, so expect a lot of trial and error
Entertainment A narrative twist on the roguelike, but too much progression is based on luck
Replay Moderately High