Title: Outer Wilds
Developer: Mobius Digital
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Genre: Action & adventure, Racing & flying, Simulation, Strategy
Platform: Xbox One
Audience: PEGI 7
Release Date: 5/29/2019
Price: £20.99 – The reviewer played this title using his Xbox Games Pass.
“Strap on your hiking boots, check your oxygen levels, and get ready to venture into space. Use the Little Scout space probe to illuminate dark caves, take photos, or test for hazards in your environment. Track down mysterious audio with your Signal Scope or use your Translator to decipher an ancient Nomai riddle. Navigate the darkness of space with your jetpack and ship.“http://www.mobiusdigitalgames.com/outer-wilds.html
The Outer Wilds is a game of mystery and exploration in a tiny hand-crafted solar system. Mobius’ epic first outing blends a hard sci-fi narrative, physics-based space flight, and a beautiful world. Does it combine these elements into a true masterpiece? Or does this title’s ambition outstrip its needs? Find out in this Rapid Review!
The Outer Wilds is the product of over half a decade of work by a small team. In light of this, the visuals are both stunning from an art design perspective and ultimately limited in scope. To some, the limited animation and simple geometry of the opening moments in the game could be off-putting. While this is understandable, as you explore the Outer Wilds’ world, you’ll find it bursting with charm. From haunting vistas to gorgeous panoramic views, this clockwork solar system features remarkable art design that more than makes up for the mild technical limitations. There is imagery present in the game that will stick with me forever, and this impact is far from occasional.
The audio in the Outer Wilds could be considered minimalist by some. The score is relatively short, but the music that’s there is used to great effect. From a subtle banjo tune accompanying a planet hop to more ominous tones and tunes, the music often made my heart swell. Just thinking about some specific, common musical cues evokes strong feelings. I don’t see those feelings fading anytime soon. Aside from music, there’s little audio in the game. What limited dialogue exists is delivered via text. Sound effects are serviceable and convey a strong sense of place. Overall, the sound design and score only enhance the excitement of this adventure.
This is where this review gets tricky. This is a game that should not be spoiled. There is a core concept to the way that the Outer Wilds unfurls that I cannot comment on here. Know that it’s safe to keep reading because while there are elements I am choosing to avoid, avoid them, I will.
As noted before, the Outer Wilds is, at its core, an adventure game. What makes it fascinating and unique is that it is not a game with an inventory or stats. This isn’t a game where you’ll find a jewel and hunt for where to slot it into some ancient statue. This is a game about discovery, and it works because its world is so incredibly rich.
Every world in the Outer Wilds is a puzzle. Each one is full of secrets, but how you access them is often unique and satisfying. It’s hard to illustrate this because of how unique each of these puzzles (and their solutions) are. Suffice it to say that fans of classic adventure games will adore the way the Outer Wilds hides its secrets. On the other hand, those in search of a narrative experience will be just as satisfied.
To travel between the worlds on which these puzzles lay, you have your trusty spaceship. This charming vessel of wood, glass, and metal serves as your home in space, a source of oxygen, and your journal. Piloting your craft feels responsive and fun, and mastering the controls will put a grin on even the most hardcore space simmer’s face. The ship is also forgiving enough that it shouldn’t be off-putting to those less interested in the flight part of the experience. When outside of your ship, you do have to manage your oxygen, but it’s rarely prohibitive. A survival game this is not.
The story of the Outer Wilds is primarily conveyed through visual discoveries and text logs. These logs take the form of alien writing found in the environment. The most surprising element of this game for me was how good the writing is. Again, I absolutely don’t want to spoil a thing about it, but the writing is funny, touching, terrifying, and propulsive, sometimes all at once.
As you encounter the story in the world, your ship’s computer will populate a “rumour map.” This map connects themes, objects, and places to help you figure out the mysteries of the world. This is a simply brilliant way to track your progress, and it’s hugely satisfying to fill in the blanks. For those looking for a less guided experience, you can completely disable the rumour map as well.
In the end, the Outer Wilds’ narrative moved me to tears. It shifts and twists, going to and away from places you’d least expect. This is a story that needs to be experienced to be understood. I implore you to experience it.
The Outer Wilds is a most stunning debut from a studio that I have ever seen. It is also easily the finest adventure game I have ever played. This game has even lodged itself firmly in my list of favourite games of all time. Unless you absolutely must have a trigger to pull or a sword to swing, I imagine it will grab you as well.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Outer Wilds from the Microsoft Store on the following link, https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/p/outer-wilds/c596fkdkmqn7?activetab=pivot:overviewtab. It is also available as part of Xbox Games Pass, https://www.xbox.com/en-GB/xbox-game-pass
Or, you can purchase it from the Epic Games Store on the following link, https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/product/outerwilds/home
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.