Outer Wilds - have you played it?

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#1 Edited by Humanity (19046 posts) -
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Outer Wilds just came out for Game Pass on Xbox and it's really intriguing and actually really damn cool. At it's heart this is an exploration..puzzle solving..narrative, detective, adventure game. Kind of! I think the actual twist which you experience unexpectedly early on is quite unique so I'll talk around it, but you are essentially an alien space explorer and you are trying to piece together a mystery by flying around a small solar system in your space ship, exploring ruins, translating texts and generally piecing together a bigger puzzle by following up on clues left by smaller ones. Everything is hand made in this cartoony, low detail aesthetic that I really enjoy and what I enjoy most is that there are very few glaring tool tips. You are generally left to your own devices to figure things out. You steer your space ship manually by engaging a variety of thrusters, and there is no protracted tutorial showing you how to do this. Instead, on your way to the ship you encounter someone that lets you try out their space drone where you sort of get the hang of how your space ship will handle. You get weird tools like a sonar type radio receiver that lets you detect faraway signals and home in on other explorers camping out on the hand full of other planets circling this systems sun. There is alien tech that you figure out how to use through trial and error. Your ship is an actual, physical ship which you board, strap in to the driver seat and pilot, but you can also get out and walk around it's modest interior while it's homing in towards your next objective on autopilot.

Everything seems really ..I dunno.. neat. I've only put a little time into it but already I bumped into several leads (that the game tracks in a helpful way) so I'm excited to keep going further.

Any of y'all try this out?

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#2 Posted by DoctorTran (1621 posts) -

Is this the one Ben was talking about on the Bombcast this week? I know he said whatever he was playing was coming to Game Pass but I missed the name and don’t feel like scrubbing through the podcast I find that segment now. ?

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#3 Posted by Fear_the_Booboo (1101 posts) -

@doctortran: Ben was talking about Void Bastards, also on gamepass.

I will only have time to play Outer Wilds tomorrow, can’t wait. It seems to be my perfect game really.

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#4 Posted by DoctorTran (1621 posts) -

@fear_the_booboo: Well thank you for the correction! I’ll definitely be checking that out, but now I’ll also have to try and check this one out on my weekend.

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#5 Posted by Jesus_Phish (3916 posts) -

@humanity: I have not - but I will even though every single time someone mentions it I think it's that game Obsidian are making and I get confused about it being out so soon.

It sounds like it's best to go in blind so that's my plan.

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#6 Posted by Relkin (1222 posts) -

I read Austin's review of it; it sounds cool. The Groundhog's Day aspect of it sounds really neat.

I'll add it to the pile that is my backlog.

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#7 Posted by selbie (2576 posts) -

As soon as I saw this being played on streams I had to pick it up. The sound design and whimsical nature of the world is really cool.

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#8 Posted by mrcraggle (3078 posts) -

@relkin: some sites have just straight up spoiled that mechanic in their headlines

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#9 Posted by gkhan (1108 posts) -

I'm a couple of hours into it, and it is really something special. This might be my favorite game so far this year. Every minute I play of it I like it more and more.

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#10 Posted by gkhan (1108 posts) -

@relkin: some sites have just straight up spoiled that mechanic in their headlines

It's not really a massive spoiler. I knew about it and it didn't lessen my enjoyment at all. There's SO MUCH to discover in this game, knowing this tiny piece in advance is not a big deal.

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#11 Posted by conmulligan (1962 posts) -

Between this and Void Bastards, Game Pass is having a banner month.

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#12 Edited by Humanity (19046 posts) -

@gkhan: if you can go in blind I do think it’s a great surprise. It’s also fun how both the new games on Game Pass are polar opposites. One is a procedurally generated, run based shooter while the other is a lovingly bespoke, adventure puzzle game.

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#13 Posted by SuperJoe (1274 posts) -

Don't have an Xbox, but it's the first game I've purchased from the Epic store (which is currently having a $10 off sale or equivalent). The tone feels like Beyond Good & Evil because it's cheerful & upbeat but with mysterious stuff going on under the surface. And the death mechanic has a "Not Like This" quality to it because it always happens at the most inopportune moment.

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#14 Posted by Humanity (19046 posts) -

I'm continuing to work away at it and man.. the clockwork mechanic here is really impressive. The one thing I do think the game is missing is a watch you can check - unless it's somewhere in the game that I haven't found? Anyway I love the mystery aspect of it although I do wish you could maybe unlock some shortcuts.

Bravo to the team behind it though because this is a brilliant idea and really impressive execution - something that we don't see all that often in the big budget releases these days.

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#15 Posted by Fear_the_Booboo (1101 posts) -

Love exploring (though I keep crashing in stuff, landing can be hard and finicky). I kinda feel like I don't know what I'm looking for though, which feels weird but maybe games tends to be too hand-holdy so this is good. The game has some incredible sights. I'll certainly play more.

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#16 Posted by Ben_H (4209 posts) -

@mrcraggle: It's even mentioned implicitly in the game's description on the Xbox store. I've never seen anything about this game other than the description and screenshots in the Xbox store and even I knew about it.

I downloaded this game using GamePass. I'm excited to give it a go, especially after Void Bastards didn't grab me like I hoped it would.

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#17 Posted by druv (247 posts) -

This game is so good! Got it on Gamepass, and it's everything I hoped it would be. It has a compelling mystery, a good method of tracking that mystery, and sets up the world at the beginning in such a way as to make you care.

This might just be my anxieties talking, but they also make space a compelling and horrible place. I hate the feeling when I get unmoored from a gravity well (planet, moon, whatever), I hate everything about the black holes, and running out of oxygen. However, all of those just create hazards to deal with, not something that turns me off playing at all.

Still haven't played Void Bastards, because this has had all of my attention.

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#18 Posted by jamesyfx (162 posts) -

I'm enjoying the game., it's quite snappy. The controls seem a bit weird though.

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#19 Posted by glots (4425 posts) -

Wonder if the East office manages to take a look at this during the week. Feel like it might be left without coverage here otherwise. People seem to be finding it still though, so that's good.

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#20 Posted by Mikemcn (8603 posts) -

15 Bucks for this on the Epic store is a steal.

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#21 Posted by Original_Hank (267 posts) -
@glots said:

Wonder if the East office manages to take a look at this during the week. Feel like it might be left without coverage here otherwise. People seem to be finding it still though, so that's good.

I would love it if Vinny played it. You can get some pretty chaotic things to happen.

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#22 Edited by Humanity (19046 posts) -

Vinny seems like the perfect person for this because he loves lore and reading in-game flavor text and this game is all about piecing together what happened from left behind messages. Gotta say that several hours in I have started dipping a bit into walkthroughs as I wasn’t sure about certain solutions and didn’t want to keep wasting time attempting them when they weren’t actually a thing. At one point I was convinced you had to ferry an item from one planet to another through an intricate series of events which turns out isn't the case - so yah better to look that stuff up than waste a few hours attempting the impossible.

The one mechanic this game could REALLY use is a watch on your hand that you could check, and an ability to have time pass by faster. Certain solutions become accessible only at the end of a cycle and waiting it out stops being cinematic after several attempts.

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#23 Edited by gerrid (719 posts) -

I've played a few hours and started to get more into it. I love the inventive design of the worlds, it is like a curated NMS which I appreciate, and I find the aesthetic really charming. The way the game opens up to you through the story is really fantastic though, as the things you're seeing start to take on more meaning and you uncover more of what's going on. A couple of "woah!" revelation moments for me so far and I'm expecting more as I go.

I think the way the game controls is pretty fiddly, especially how easy it is to get stuck on geometry or get futzed about trying to land the ship. It adds a bit of charm but can get annoying. A watch would be nice but you can generally tell from looking at the sun how long you have, if you can see it.

I agree that we should get a series of Vinny playing through it, but not livestreamed since it would be spoiled with chat.

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#24 Edited by Humanity (19046 posts) -

I finally finished this game and must say that my earlier feelings of slight frustration only intensified by the end.

Some of the final segments require you to simultaneously sit around killing time until you can engage specific mechanics and then hurry before your time runs out in a pseudo final-stretch stealth/maze sequence. Having to re-do that part and wait about 9 minutes each time doing nothing was something that could have REALLY by fixed by letting you fast forward time.

Also while the story starts really interesting and mysterious I do feel that by the end it stays a little too ethereal in certain aspects. I love the hard sciency parts which are mostly explained and which I mostly understood. I do feel that despite the open nature of Outer Wilds, you are really meant to tackle these planets in a specific order and if you don't follow that order you might get seriously stuck. Certain solutions are a bit broad and given the nature of the game trial-and-error can be time consuming, especially if your hypothesis is absolutely wrong and you're just wasting your time one loop at a time.

Overall I still think this is a beautifully crafted game, but the back end starts to lose focus and in certain areas feels rushed. This is one game where I would have really appreciated a very idiot proof info dump by the end. In a lot of ways it kept reminding me of the game Below that similarly started to become very obscure with it's puzzle solving towards the end. A lot of it seems very logicial in retrospect, but while hindsight is 20/20, my vision in the here and now was considerably less clear.

I tried finding some discussions of the ending online but the best I could get was a really terrible 4chan thread. I read through so many comments that were just the worst the internet has to offer in order to get at some factual bits of info.

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#25 Posted by Gundato (369 posts) -

@humanity: Thanks for saving me time

I really loved the first hour. But after I got the low hanging fruit nodes and started to realize some were time specific my interest waned a lot. And it sounds like my concerns were well founded.

Ah well. Totally worth whatever I paid for it on Epic (and then the +10 equivalent the devs got). I've long since past the point where I need to finish games and I definitely got at least 20 bucks of entertainment out of this before I put it down.

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#26 Posted by SethMode (2104 posts) -

After putting about 8 or so hours into it, without a walkthrough, and no end in sight as far as I can tell, I can confidently say this is one of my favorite games that makes me so fucking crazy that I want to scream, that I have maybe ever played.

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#27 Posted by BaneFireLord (3572 posts) -

I'd been really enjoying it, but now it's starting to feel a little too long (~10 hours in). Last night I completed something that felt like it should have been a conclusion, or at least a big step toward the conclusion, but wound up only resulting in a minor info dump. Pretty deflating. I also feel like I've pieced together the whole story in my head at this point and every new revelation or discovery just reaffirms my suspicions.

Also (spoilers) the Dark Bramble's Lost Woods-ass bullshit coupled with the fiddly flight controls is massive pain and I hate having to go there.

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#28 Posted by Humanity (19046 posts) -

@banefirelord: Well I hope you enjoy going back to that place on a pretty tight time limit.

Love the game and I think it should be used as an example for bigger studios of just how important bespoke content really is. What the team behind it have achieved is spectacular. There were so many moments where I was just gaping at the screen because of how cool something was or how amazing something looked.

That said after an amazing start it doesn't nail the landing quite as I had imagined it would, and some of the endgame stuff can get tedious.

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#29 Posted by BaneFireLord (3572 posts) -

@humanity: Ugh...well, thanks for the heads up. I feel compelled to finish it for the reasons you stated about the bespoke content and how cool so much of it is, but I think I'll crack open a walkthrough to minimize frustration with endgame stuff.

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#30 Posted by doombot13 (355 posts) -

I just bought a game pass hoping to play it only to discover it's not for PC game pass dangit.

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#31 Posted by InStInCt666 (36 posts) -

i bought it and played a bunch yesterday,
i'm just here to say : I FUCKING Love this game !
i bought the game only knowing three Things:

-Puzzle Adventure Game
-Cool Mystery to Discover

i am not disappointed ! definitely recommend going in there blind.

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#32 Edited by DukeMcFrenzy (130 posts) -

Im loving this game. I havent had a game get me up in my seat like this one has in awhile. Ive almost explored everything and am near the end (i think). My only complaint is sometimes the systems are frustrating in a not very fun way.

My examples are kinda spoilers so... On Brittle Hollow, the first time you fall through that black hole and find out what happens is one of those super cool moments that is only cool that first time. The 40th time i missed that jump and now im on the other side of the solar system having to EVA my way over to the station and wait. Its a waste of time in a game where time kinda matters (even more on that particular planet). So many times, my answer to a black hole trip was to high speed crash into whatever so i would just die and start over. Im sure there are other examples where a "Song of Reverse Time" equivalent would be helpful.

Its a fun game and has some great discovery moments that blew my mind more than once. I wouldnt feel guilty looking something up on the net because sometimes the games logic is a little hard to follow and it would be sad to miss some of the cooler parts of this game.

So far my favorite part is the Southern Observatory and the projector. They even line up the buttons for the different planets perfectly so you get to the Eye last and it does that crazy pull out and then the rings start emerging. I came across it late at night after an exausting trek (see example above) and it was one of those moments this game does so well that really blows your mind.

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#33 Posted by Humanity (19046 posts) -

@dukemcfrenzy: They really manage to do some amazing stuff with the limited graphic style they chose. Somehow these kinda low poly, plain geometrics are so much more evocative than plenty of high end games with beautifully rendered, yet utterly boring hallways and stuff.

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