Game Review: Out There

Jonathan Szafran delivers his verdict on extraordinary mobile space adventure Out There, out now on Android and iOS (reviewed).

Out There main

Deep space exploration, an easy to learn inventory management system, and a well written text adventure all mixed together with a score-based mechanic and social media integration, are all a part of what makes this iOs/Android space odyssey game amazing fun. If that first sentence didn’t catch your attention then Out There may not be your cup of tea, but for those looking for a mobile game with lots of substance – you can’t go wrong.

Out There’s story begins with an astronaut from Earth waking in his stasis chamber, from what he thought would be a short jump to the edge of the galaxy. But he soon realizes that his spacecraft has gone far beyond that, and he is now in unknown space. His ship comes into contact with a strange obelisk that speaks to him in English, and tasks him to make it to a star system far across the celestial map. So it is up to you to travel to distant planets and star systems, meet new aliens species, and survive all of the obstacles that are in your path.

The story is the best thing going for Out There. It is well written, full of tongue-in-cheek humor, and overflowing with nods to popular sci-fi franchises – all  the while conveying the horrors of what it’s like to be alone in deep space.

To keep your ship from going adrift you will travel from one star system to the next visiting planets that are either rich in fuel to fill your tanks, or materials needed for repairing your hull. Keeping an eye on your current fuel, air and hull integrity at all times is key because every move you make will take a portion of your precious resources. Using a simple drag from one area of the screen to another mechanic suits Out There well. There are many games like this that get too involved with their inventory management system and bury them deep within menus, but that is not the case here and Mi-Clos Studio should be applauded for designing an intuitive system for an indie, mobile game.

Deep space is not a friendly place, and Out There has plenty of dangers that will not only destroy your ship but end your game sooner than you may have hoped. Everything from the way you speak to alien beings to random encounters with asteroid fields and perhaps getting to close to either a supernova or black hole can kill you if you are not properly equipped to handle the situation. Learning new words from computer databases aboard star bases and friendly aliens you encounter will guide you during future conversations with other extraterrestrials.

As for the other dangers, you will need to either learn new technologies to make it past them or have the materials needed to repair your ship whenever needed. You may also find new starships that have been abandoned that you can take over and carry on with your journey. However, in doing so you will lose all of your resources that you currently have aboard your own ship and start fresh with whatever technology is aboard the new spacecraft. Carefully managing your cargo and mapping out your path across the stars is key to making it to your final destination in Out There.

Every time your journey ends in victory or death you a given an overall score that can then be shared amongst your followers on Twitter with a glimpse of what you ended with in your cargo hold. But as soon as your journey ends you will want to jump right back in for another adventure, and possibly take on a whole new path throughout the various galaxies to explore. Addictive gameplay and amazing storytelling mixed with a haunting soundtrack composed by Siddhartha Barnhoorn (Antichamber) make Out There truly excellent – and a true star on the indie mobile scene.

FMV Rating: *****


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