Published on May 25th, 2014 | by Kristian Ivanov2
Out There Review
A while ago I reviewed a game here on SGD called Star Command. In that review, I compared it to the PC game FTL: Faster Than Light and I mentioned how it wasn’t really focused on exploration and random events, but much more on combat and ship customization. Well, imagine taking that missing part and making a whole game out of it – Out There. Unlike Star Command, Out There has no combat and focuses entirely on exploration and randomize events.
The game starts with you, a guy in space. You were traveling to one of Jupiter’s moons, but you ship went in a black hole on the way there and since you were cryogenically frozen, you couldn’t avoid it. After you wake up, you notice a space station, which gives you coordinates on your star-map, with which your journey begins. Mechanics-wise, it’s similar to FTL, in a sense that you pick a location, you go to it, and then you pick a planet and explore / harvest its resources. Since there is no actual fighting, this sounds easy enough right? Well, you’re wrong. This game is really hard unless you put some strategy into it. Traveling between stars and planets takes a good amount of fuel, some planets have atmospheres dangerous to your ship’s hull, oxygen is often hard to come by, your equipment can break…it’s no walk in the park.
While there are many resources in the game, only three are vital to your survival: oxygen – for obvious reasons, fuel – so you can actually travel, and iron – for repairs. All other resources are used for manufacturing other helpful equipment and repairing it. Here is where it gets tricky – certain planets have only certain types of resources and random amounts of it, so just finding a planet is sometimes not enough to keep you stocked up. There are ship systems you can manufacture that tell you what to expect when drilling a planet but you’ll have to be lucky to find the schematics for them. Some planets also have alien life on them and give you the option to communicate. The tricky bit is that you don’t understand the language so first few times will be lucky guesses what you’re doing. After an encounter, you’re guaranteed to learn a word of their language, which will help you in future encounters, and if you’re lucky with your choices, they will even share schematics with you or give you rare resources to help you out. The luckier and patient players can also come across abandoned ships to replace the one you start with. Usually it’s a pretty good idea since they tend to have more space for systems/cargo, which will make your life a lot easier. This is pretty much the core of the game.
Story wise, it actually resembles a chose your own adventure. At the start you’re given a goal to reach a certain location, but while on your journey, assuming you live long enough, you can uncover two other ways to end your story, each of them with its own difficulties. While traveling in space, you’ll get random events that often require you to make a choice, for example, there’s a big explosion, you can either hide behind a moon or try to outrun it. The choices have their consequences, which can be anything between gain/lose a resource, gain/lose a schematic, get transported to a random location or even nothing at all. You’ll sometimes also get simple journey logs written by the astronaut himself, which I think adds a lot to the feel of the game. The music is also great, but the downside is that there’s not a lot of it so eventually it’ll get repetitive.
There is no doubt about it, Out There is a rock solid space adventure game. Its mechanics are well thought out and while the difficulty is really high, it’s just high enough to keep you wanting to try one more time until your battery runs dry, and if that’s not enough for you, the story is also there to keep you entertained for a few playthroughs.
Summary: Out There is a fantastic mix between space exploration and chose your own adventure.