Outward is an open world RPG from Nine Dots Studio. Located in Quebec the team began this game with just 10 developers. Still, I’ve found it far better than some games released by the bigger development studios, backed by thousands of developers. Strength, in this case, is definitely quality over quantity.
Of course, this game doesn’t have the same level of greatness as, say, Red Dead Redemption 2, which had 3000+ developers on the job. But there again, it also doesn’t have the same price. Outward will be lighter on your pockets, priced at RM122 / USD$39.99 on Steam. Most other triple-A videogames cost around RM240 / USD$60 apiece.
Outward is called “the adventurer life sim”, and it’s a pretty accurate depiction, considering the logic that turns the wheels of the game. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into adventure with Outward.
There is a lot that needs to be understood about the gameplay of Outward. First of all, this is a survival game, with good emphasis on the “survival” part of it. Normally, when you think survival, it means struggling to stay afloat while zombies or Nazis or Nazi-zombies try to eat your brains. But this isn’t like that.
Unlike protagonists of other video games, you aren’t the “chosen one” or the only person capable of “killing the mighty dragon” or some mystical magical mumbo-jumbo. Instead, you’re just a normal person living in a slightly abnormal world. You don’t come down from a long line of assassins, your father isn’t an elite super soldier, and you sure as hell aren’t the scientist who invented time travel.
You have to slowly improve your combat skills over time, and since this is a fantasy world, you can use magic once you master it. I’m not going to sugar coat it – the gameplay is hard. You’re only a puny human after all, but you get used to it after some time, and you’ll definitely enjoy it.
Additionally Outward has something I find sorely lacking in most triple-A games titles – couch co-op. Grab your friend, sit on the couch with them, and play on your TV using split-screen. I don’t know why, but new videogames thought they were too cool for this oldish method of gameplay, but I sure am glad to see it make a comeback. And of course, for those of you who don’t have any real friends, you can play co-op online with your fake ones.
I’m sure you’re all aware of the level of realism videogame graphics have reached in the current day and age. So, if you’re looking for graphics that are so realistic you think you’re looking at a movie instead of videogame, then I know just the game for you. It’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and it has some of the best graphics to ever grace the world of videogames. Leaves rustling on the left, howlers running around on the right, and every detail of every character being painted so beautifully you can’t really separate it from real life.
Now that kind of graphics is exactly what Outward will not give you. As I said small development team, small budget, small price, but the graphics are still great. I mean, sure, the graphics may be slightly outdated, but it’s also beautiful. The colors and tones used for the landscapes aren’t made to look like it does in real life but come on, this is a fantasy world, so you’ll really appreciate the art once you’ve seen it.
I think we need to specially mention and give a round of applause to all the musicians responsible for the game’s music because it is simply legendary. You’d think that some of the game music was composed by Beethoven himself because it blends in with the game setting so beautifully.
Moving on to the voice acting, there isn’t much. Your protagonist does not speak, but on the rare occasion someone does speak up, it’s pretty darn good. Once again, not Shadow of The Tomb Raider good, but definitely better than expected.
Finally, I have mixed feelings about the in-game sounds given off when you go around doing whatever it is you do. It’s not terrible, but it doesn’t really feel that natural.
Remember me saying that your character is very normal? Well, this means that you’ll have to do all the things every other Tom, Dick and Harry does. Things like sleeping, eating, drinking, etc… You could catch infections and disease depending on what you eat and how you rest, and just like in the real world if you don’t treat these illnesses, they could lead to bigger problems. As you progress through the game, your body improves and you grow resilient to the world around you, but it’s still there, and it adds to the realism of the gameplay.
To put it simply, imagine you were plucked out of your home or office or parents’ basement and placed smack in the middle of an enchanted yet brutal world. That’s the experience Nine Dots wanted to give you, and that’s the experience you will be getting. So, to sum it all up, it’s pretty much like the Lego Movie, where the main character is a nobody. Just an ordinary human facing all the ordinary human needs as you go on an adventure.
Finally, the combat mechanics are pretty awesome and very catchy. You might die a lot to start off, but you get used to it. The combat mechanics, that is… not the dying part. A variety of blocking, dodging, and attacking techniques are present and you can also set up traps and strategize a game plan because that counts too.
I love a good story, and Outwards’ storyline is pretty good. It’s challenging while also being immersive. There are multiple outcomes and three separate paths you can choose to take, each one with its own different story.
Your protagonist, similar to games such as Saints Row, can be either male or female and is customizable at the start. However, I should mention that there are very few customization options and your player may not have the most pleasant facial characteristics. But it doesn’t matter because you’ll soon be covering your whole body with armour. Lifehack: no one knows you’re ugly when you’re covered head to toe in armour.
Normally, when the games’ story ends, the game also “ends”, right? Not in this case. With Outward, the point where the story ends, the adventure begins. That’s the point where you actually have the ability, experience, and skill to start going on the adventure without getting killed every five minutes. That’s where you get the blessings from the gods of the game to start off on your journey.
This game is certainly an excellent launching pad for Nine Dots Studios, with the game attracting quite a lot of attention and getting almost 9/10 by most game reviewers. Sure, there’s room for improvement, but it gives great value for its price and size with endless hours of fun. This game is also not bogged down with micro-transactions and all the other B.S you often see plaguing most other games, and its good fun for the whole family! Who knows, maybe Nine Dots will keep building upon their success and in a decade’s time, maybe there will be a remaster of Outward… Outward Remastered!
Outward is available now on Steam for RM122 / USD$39.99. Or on the PlayStation Store for RM190 / SGD$62.60.