Indoor, Outdoor & Kids' Trampolines

Outer Wilds Review


– [Daemon] Discovery
is a difficult sensation to legitimately simulate in a video game. Countless worlds smother us with lore, giving us the opportunity
to understand them better. But that’s usually optional,
so it often feels superficial. Outerwilds, a space exploration sim laced with puzzles and a mystery story, sidesteps that problem by
putting the storytelling that normally litters the
background of most games front and center. By turning lore into a puzzle
and a means for progress, it makes learning about
these worlds feel vital. As an anthropologist caught
in a Majora’s Mask-style time loop, you must study an ancient race that once lived in your solar system to figure out how to move time forward. Solving your problem means
untangling an interplanetary web of alien texts and technology spread across the solar
system’s five planets and other key places. The simple premise gives way
to the interesting story, or stories, really, you
uncover in your travels. The aliens, like Metroid’s Chozo
or Mass Effect’s Protheans, seem unknowable at first glance, but become relatable as
you learn more about them. Exploration is the
centerpiece of Outer Wilds. Revealing the whole story is daunting, but once you set out on your expedition, things start to fall into place. You do not find gear, and
there are no clear-cut missions spelled out for you to perform. You simply travel to new
places, find alien ruins, and read as much as you can. Each piece of information you find gives you more information, pointing you towards another clue. (ethereal pad) This is where the time loop
mechanic really shines. By breaking things down
into 22-minute adventures before each reset, Outer Wilds forces you to explore
each world piece by piece. Not only does that make a
big task feel attainable, it gives you the freedom to
breathe and take in the sights. You do get a few pointers. For instance, important
details are highlighted and stored in a log on your ship, but it’s on you to put
the pieces together. This can make it difficult
to track your progress, as it isn’t always clear
what clues you need to reach the next key moment. The ambiguity gives way
to big rewards though. Figuring out how each world works, solving a puzzle or
discovering a secret entrance, feels like a genuine eureka moment. Each of the five planets you search serves up a unique look and feel, as well as a mechanic concept
that create natural puzzles out of getting from point A to point B. From the emerald seas of Giant’s Deep, whose sky-high whirlpools
can pull islands into orbit, to Brittle Hollow, a dying planet with a
black hole at its core, each place feels unique
and meticulously crafted. The time loop also plays an important role in traveling the world
and solving puzzles. Certain areas only become
accessible at specific moments, so visiting the same
place at different points can yield different results. Stumbling into the right
place at the right time leads to some of the best discoveries. Each planet has the capacity
to truly surprise you, even after you thought you
figured everything out. The ability to make
discoveries in any order has its drawbacks though. No one is going to tell you
if you’re missing something, which can make things
complicated and frustrating. If you find facts out of order, or approach a ruins from
the wrong direction, certain tasks may seem impossible. It’s usually easy to look
around and find what you missed, but other times, especially
in late-game locations, where entrances are obscured, it’s impossible to tell
where to even begin. It’s hard to hold the frustrations raised by those obtuse puzzles
against Outer Wilds though. Given how you have to process lore and apply it to the
world to make progress, we’ll likely see players
sharing knowledge online, as they did with games
like Fez and The Witness. There’s something really
fun about sharing stories, and in particular, hearing
tales of discoveries you haven’t made yet. Outer Wilds’s tricky
exploration and puzzle solving is definitely an acquired taste. Its specific brand of active
storytelling differs wildly from highly-guided open worlds
that many of us think of when discussing non-linear gameplay. Though it can be confounding when events don’t unfold as intended, the feeling of discovering
something new about the story, or following the facts
to something unexpected, far outweighs those hiccups. For more on Outer Wilds, introduce yourself with our
10-minute gameplay walkthrough. Plus, check out our reviews
of other space-faring games like Observation. And for everything else,
keep it right here at IGN.

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