The Outer Wilds

DEVELOPER: Mobius Digitial
PLATFORM (AVAILABLE ON): XBOX ONE (PC)

The Outer Wilds allows you to stumble across the deepest and darkest corners of a solar system. You play as an unnamed astronaut who awakes at the bottom of his launch pad, who is tasked to explore the solar system until the Sun suddenly implodes.

The view you get after waking from your slumber

Each “play-through” is only 22 minutes long until the the sun goes Super Nova, but mysteriously you wake up at the foot of your camp fire by the launch pad that you started the game at. The player-character remembers the events of the previous play-through and records them in their ships log, so every play-through is a step closer to uncovering the mysteries left by the Nomai race. Which is a lot to take in for 22 minutes. However, dying is another way to end these time loops as you find yourself asking Slate why he’s woke up back here and each way of dying provides another question to be asked.

The way I see it, it’s another opportunity to go and explore another part of the quirky and wonderful system of planets. Each planet comes with a range of hazards, threats, landscapes and mysteries. Once you have your launch codes, you’re off on your way and you can do whatever you like. You are giving two clues about which planets can help discover the mystery of the hallucinogenic statue that has been moved to Timber’s Hearth’s observatory.

The view of the Ember Twin, twinned with the Ash Twin, possibly two of my favourite planets

You are basically chucked in the deep end with the Outer Wilds, there is only a brief tutorial where you have to fix a satellite for one of your fellow village people. You have to make of that what you will, the controls aren’t too complicated but flying around in space is. Even about 10 hours into the game, I still find myself discovering new gadgets and controls that could have reduced the amount of time loops I go through. And on top of this, you are fighting physics, learning how to fly and land your ship is one thing. Then you leave the safety of your spacecraft only to find out one jump and you can find yourself floating endlessly in space.

Map of the solar system

This isn’t a negative though, it makes the game fun and exciting, giving the player free reign of their own experience. Whilst the time loops give you digestible chunks of the game, however, can get quite annoying when you’re in the middle of somewhere that took 20 minutes to get to and 2 minutes later you have to start the game again. No grudge. My number one tip for this game is pay attention and speak to everyone you come across. Oh and get a stop watch.

With the use of your signalscope you find strange signals across the solar system, that lead to your fellow astronauts, you can speak to them to discover new things about the planet they’re inhabiting. Alongside this, you have the use of a number of different tools that are available from the start, no levelling up or earning new equipment. You have a scout launcher that can take photo, light up areas and inform you of any hazards. A nice little translator tool that can well translate ancient languages and receive radio transmitters. As well as a cool space suit equipped with a jet pack.

The Space Suit HUD and signal scope.

But be careful, each planet has different forces so keep an eye on your space suit HUD. Although these can be used to your advantage, they do take some getting used to, especially landing your ship on a planet that has very little gravitational pull. The amount of times I landed my ship, only to exit and find my shift flying off into the depths of space.

The Outer Wilds is a great game simply because it allows the player’s curiosity to guide their gaming experience. I love these types of games. There’s no guest markers, only riddles and clues to guide you on your way. The new experience every planet gives keep you enthralled for hours on end and your always finding something new to explore. Although the time loops can become frustrating, they’re worth the replay as you’re in for a quality and fun experience.

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