You are a Hearthian Astronaut, a humanoid Alien, and you’re about to take your first trip off planet. Your mission is to explore your solar system, and link up with your fellow astronauts. They have scattered through the system with their Outer Wilds Ventures spaceships. You’re also equiped with the all new translator, that allows you to understand ancient alien writings for the first time. But before you can get too far, something happens that sets your plans back repeatedly. So how do you proceed if you’re always taking two steps back?
This content was reviewed playing a purchased copy.
Setting & Music
In Outer Wilds you have an entire solar system to explore and so the settings are vastly different. Each place you visit brings a unique experience both in how it looks, how you interact with it, and how it changes over time. Certain paths across the environment will become inaccessible and you’ll have to figure out how to get past the blockage.
The Outer Wilds opts for a more cartoon-y art style, which I believe is to its benefit. The landscapes in the solar system really stand, and it is a game that will age very well because of this. Overall the art and design of each place is stunningly beautiful and well crafted.
Speaking of beautiful, the soundtrack by Andrew Prahlow is one of the best I’ve heard in a good while. Each location has a different piece of music that changes over time and all of them fit the mood perfectly. It will keep a permanent place on my Soundtrack playlist.
The core game of Outer Wilds can be completed in 20 minutes, so don’t expect a traditional game. Instead, Outer Wilds presents you with chances to learn about your solar system and those that came before you. Armed with your new translation tool you can translate ancient Nomai text wherever you go. And they’ve been everywhere, at every point in the solar system you’ll find their writings. Hints about their life, their culture, and ultimately, what happened to them.
The game in Outer Wilds revolves around you piecing together these nuggets of information. All you’ll be able to do is jump, fly your ship (often straight into the sun) and translate. On your ship you’ll keep a record of everything you’ve learnt about the Nomai on your journey. It’ll start as a disjointed mess of information, but it will soon build up with interconnected pathways. You may see this and think there’s no ‘game’ here to play, and not in the traditional sense. But building up this information network is a very rewarding experience.
Characters & Story
Through your journey you’ll meet a number of characters, namely the Astronauts. They’ll give you pointers on where to go on their planet, and each has their own unique personality. You don’t really interact with them all that much, but the personalities are quite genuine.
As I’ve alluded to previously the story is told through the environment and the writings you find on it. You’ll build up your knowledge of what happened as you go regardless of where you go first. This grants a great amount of freedom to explore what you want, and what looks interesting. Ultimately, I found myself truly invested in what happened. Many people may find certain things confusing, but I believe such potentially complicated concepts were dealt with very well. Such things often lead to flat endings, and, although abstract, it too was handled very well.
Outer Wilds takes a potentially complicated premise and chops it down into bite-sized chunks. Those chunks are scattered around fascinating environments for you to fit back together. I spent about 25 hours with Outer Wilds and I can’t recommend this game enough. It is a unique and fulfilling experience that I will remember for a long time. Mobius Digital have created a masterpiece.
In the mood for more Indie games? Why not check out our Celeste review?
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- Overall - 10/1010/10
+ Beautiful Environments
+ Great Soundtrack
+ Satisfying Story