Isolation is a very distinct and very rare feeling in our society today. With how busy and condensed cities and towns are across the globe, a person is rarely truly alone with nothing but their own thoughts. Out There seeks to give you a taste on what true isolation feels like and wraps it all in a small yet expansive package. If you liked No Man’s Sky or FTL: Faster than Light then you will get the harrowing difficulty of trying to manage risk and reward while also being given some beautiful scenery and storytelling through nothing more than text and pictures.
Out There is a difficult game, though not difficult in the way that games like Cuphead or Dark Souls are difficult. It doesn’t require any skill or dexterity on your part, only using the mouse to make decisions, but the decisions you do end up making will either pay off in dividends or cause you to meet an untimely death in the cold vacuum of space. The goal of Out There is to pilot your ship to a specific point in space and meet with whatever entity is attempting to guide you into the depths of space. The game has no other primary objectives other than to survive and keep moving forward, but it will throw you a whole bunch of things you can do optionally that will keep that risk/reward balance in check. For instance, after discovering interstellar travel, you gain the ability to travel from one solar system to the next in search of resources and even other alien races. You jump from system to system looking at the different planets and suns and you can decide whether or not to land on any one of them, but each time you land you will burn a huge amount of resources in doing so. Certain planets contain fuel resources, others contain elements like titanium and iron to fix your ship and to craft new subsystems that will make the journey much easier. While this may sound simple, every single excursion to a planet can wipe out your health, oxygen, or fuel reserves and leave you exploded, asphyxiated, or stranded respectively. With each risk comes the potential for either huge reward or getting eaten by a space squid, a space whale, or a black hole; and those rewards come through either landing on planets or jumping to a new system. Every step of the way in Out There you will find yourself in a predicament.
While the gameplay of Out There is extremely simple, the informal and non-linear storytelling similar to No Man’s Sky is captivating. Through your actions piloting your space-craft, trying to upgrade your capabilities, and encountering new and interesting forms of life you will start to become attached to each iteration of the astronaut that you control. With each interstellar jump you learn more about the man who is staring at oblivion and what he wants, dreams, and experiences. Further than that, you start to understand the galaxy around him, always discovering new and interesting creatures, races, planets, and star systems. Each race you discover has a common tongue and at first you will know nothing of their language; but in each play-through you will come across translations of various words allowing you to eventually form functional sentences with the different races. More often than not though you will meet an untimely demise at the hands of the universe and of those almost every death is a slow burn into a game over screen that you will see nine times out of ten before it actually arrives. In one instance, I got stuck after jumping from star system to star system because I couldn’t jump far enough to the next system, forcing me to backtrack through almost 20% of the progress I had made ultimately culminating into yet another death. At another point, I got flung through a space-time portal and ended up detached, too far away from any systems to get back into the main vein of stars that led to the ending. You will end up dying far more than you will win, in fact after multiple hours of play I still haven’t even gotten past the midway point of the map, getting extremely lucky all the way there the one time I did. Even with so many deaths and game over screens, you will love every adventure this game gives you.
Out There is a great game to recommend, it takes almost no skill to play, has a wonderful subtle soundtrack, can be played on almost any hardware, and it hits the perfect balance between melancholy and joyful exploration. No matter how many times I made a stupid mistake or had to risk everything for that last scrap of Oxygen or Iron I found myself totally engaged with what was happening on screen. Even my wife, sitting nearby on the couch not particularly paying attention, was quickly drawn in to the beautiful hand drawn scenery and rapturous storytelling. I heartily recommend anyone who enjoys space, or exploration to pick this game up and give it a try. You will quickly find yourself loving every danger and death-filled moment that Out There has to offer and will continuously come back for more.