Outward (PC) Preview

By TJ 12.02.2019

Review for Outward on PC

Outward does a lot of things, and consequently demands a lot from the player. The main character has daily needs that must be met in order to keep their body healthy, such as maintaining proper hunger and thirst levels, sleeping adequate amounts, and even taking due care not to linger in cold or hot environments without the necessary equipment; these aspects of realism ground the experience as a story of not only adventure, but of survival against unfair odds.

There's a multitude of mechanics to bear in mind, and thankfully there is a lengthy, yet thorough, tutorial. It covers some of the more interesting mechanics, such as resting during the night, while also allocating time for guard duty and equipment repairs. Considering the thought required to simply rest at night, Outward focuses heavily on preparing for the journey ahead.

When the story begins, the player is faced with the ultimatum of: pay off your family's debt, or lose your home. Beginning with very little is important, because it means that making progress through the world means using the limited funds and resources available in efficient and conservative ways. It's incredibly easy to fall behind, in a manner of speaking.

Difficulty is something that Outward creates through both predictable, and also unforeseen ways, with the latter being quite frustrating. As expected, without proper medical supplies, food, water, a player will succumb to a slow, inevitable defeat. Something that occurs quite often is this concept of a "death loop." This is when the first death occurs, and then due to various reasons, such as whittling supplies, loss of equipment, or even being stranded in an unknown area, consecutive deaths occur, with each one more discouraging than the last.

Screenshot for Outward on PC

Furthering this phenomenon, dying in different areas of the world result in losing consciousness, and waking up someplace else. Sometimes the player will wake up in an undead prison, where ghosts and monsters stand guard. Other times the player will be lying on the floor of a generous stranger's home. These transitions are interesting, and tend to happen in organic ways. The problem with these is that location can be hard to decipher, as the map is static, and does not include the player. Unfortunately, it is jarring and does not bode well for someone who has run out of supplies and is faced with starvation or injury.

There are two main areas that feel underdeveloped: interface and environment. With all the information needed to make level-headed decisions, many of the indicators of both positive and negative statuses are vague. As is common in many RPGs, there is a buff and debuff section, but they do not provide additional information when moused over. Rather, the one must open up the statuses menu in order to understand their meaning. Map interaction is limited to placing down colored icons, but in a world so large, it feels underwhelming. Being able to take notes or draw on a map was crucial to early exploration, and would further engage you to remember important routes or locations.

In terms of the environment, there are a lot of minor things that add up to a questionable experience. Besides the fact that nighttime is exceedingly dark, townsfolk still walk around the city, going about their business, unhindered by the dark. One citizen can be found hammering nails into his house at midnight, without any light source nearby. Many of these examples are minor in detail, but end up muddling the experience on a whole, such as waking up in a cave at midnight, only to find the entrance blindingly bright as if it was midday.

Screenshot for Outward on PC

Screenshot for Outward on PC

Screenshot for Outward on PC

Final Thoughts

Outward on a whole does a lot of things, almost too many. The constant need to juggle survival, exploration, and adventure, makes for a title that could easily deliver countless hours of enjoyment. However, delivering on such a plethora of mechanics is a demanding balancing act, and one that requires a lot out of its playerbase. Having too many can lead to confusion, frustration, or even a lack of gratification. With that said, Outward is aimed towards those who are looking to deeply root themselves in a world that cares little for their comfort or safety.

Developer

Nine Dots Studio

Publisher

Deep Silver

Genre

Adventure

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date 26.03.2019   North America release date 26.03.2019   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date TBA   

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