It’s honestly a really rare occurrence when you come across a game that is so good and so different and unique and unlike anything you’ve ever played, but it isn’t the kinda game that the majority of people will want to invest their time in or even play entirely through to get the entire experience.
How’s it going everyone, I’m Caleb from Cubold Gaming, and here is my Buy or Pass opinion on Outer Wilds.
Now, if you are new to the series, the Buy or Pass videos are a way for me and the other Cubold Crew members to kinda express our opinion on games. So, a lot of what you hear isn’t tainted by anything, it’s exactly what we think.
It’s also a little more relaxed and basically our unique way of reviewing a game, and staying away from the other generic IGN review type videos that you’ll see countless times on youtube.
So, here’s a little bit of my opinion as well as some objective thing that this game offers to kinda help you decide on whether this game is worth buying or maybe just passing on.
What is Outer Wilds?
I want to start out by giving a little explanation of what Outer Wilds is exactly, for those who don’t know.
So, Outer Wilds sets you as a brand new astronaut that just finished training. You wake up in a small village occupied by an alien race that basically mirrors humans.
This alien race is determined to explore as much of its solar system as possible. Their entire race was influenced and is basically motivated by an extinct race called the Nomai.
This extinct technologically advanced race plays a major role in the story and really, this is kinda the main underlying lore that you slowly uncover in the game, but I’ll talk about that later.
You’re thrown into the game, waking up next to a character roasting some marshmallows. There really isn’t too much of a guide and you just kinda show up and slowly piece things together.
The entire game is essentially a 22 minute time loop before the sun basically explodes on you. Within that time you continue to piece things together and discover not only the main story but so many hidden story gems.
Every time you go through a time loop, you get pulled back to the beginning, but no matter what you say, no one else knows what you do.
You still have your memories and you still have your ship log but essentially it’s up to you in order to figure out why this is happening and what happened to the advanced extinct Nomai race.
Also, the game is set up in a way that allows you to basically beat the game in under 30 minutes if you know where to go and what to do, but normally it’ll take someone anywhere from 15 to 30 hours to beat.
How The Game Plays
Now that you have an idea of what the game is about, I really wanted to talk about how the game plays, because it’s a lot different than what you may be used to.
The game is first-person and in terms of running around and using things, it’s pretty standard, but where the game gets a little different and what really threw me off, were the flying mechanics.
I mentioned previously that the game kinda just throws you into the game without any real guidance, well, this is one aspect of the game where that statement becomes very apparent.
This isn’t a bad thing, actually, I think that’s a part of the charm of the game. It doesn’t really care but rather just adds to the entire intrigue that the game has.
But yeah, flying your spaceship is extremely odd at first and even after so many hours of playing, I still crash into things and have to fix up the ship.
Which is a cool small detail that’s in the game. If you land too hard on, let’s say, the landing gear, you’ll have to repair that part of the ship in order for you to move around successfully.
Same for other parts of the ship, like the windshield and things. Not really game-changing but I thought that was a cool little detail.
Anyway, I’m getting distracted. Yeah, so, there is a place in the village where you can train your flying with a drone, but I kinda skipped that and went straight to flying.
The flying, as I said before, at first is odd, but it’s so, I don’t know how to say it, so stripped of polish that it makes it good.
What I’m trying to say is that the flying is very basic and doesn’t really help you out with any fancy movement polish. Rather, it’s actually pretty difficult but I actually prefer that rather than the alternative.
Oh and there are also some puzzle elements to the game.
The whole spaceship thing kinda segways me into what I also think is an important aspect of the game, actually probably even more so than how the game plays, but essentially the core gameplay.
So, this game is an exploration and adventure game. Once you get in your ship and lift off, that’s basically it. That’s the beauty of the game, is that you have the entire solar system with multiple unique planets and locations to go to and it’s really all on where you decide to go.
It was only like a freeing feeling. You know, having a game that doesn’t micromanage everything you do and if you veer from it then it just won’t work. It’s not even like an open-world type style either.
I mean technically I guess you could say it’s “open-world”, but I really feel that the game is even more relaxed and unlatched than that.
I will say that sometimes that 22-minute time cap for the reset kinda put a damper on my exploring. Sometimes I’d be just ripping through the story and finding all these small mini-stories and discovering so much, and all a sudden the time loop would happen.
It wasn’t too big of an issue because that’s kinda how the game works. You just go back and pick up where you left off.
So, you have not only space exploration where you can fly freely through the solar system, and also exploring the worlds.
I wanna mention that the worlds aren’t massive, like, at all. Nothing like the size of an Astroneer planet or a No Man’s Sky planet.
I think this was a smart move though. Yeah, I wouldn’t have minded a larger planet size with some of the planets having a little more terrain depth and foliage, but instead of that, it’s packed full of secrets and story.
Something else you’ll encounter when exploring the different worlds is some pretty crazy environments. These varying environments are also on somewhat of a timed schedule, so that’s something you would have to learn from the experience of being on them.
There are also a whole bunch of hidden areas where you’ll uncover bits and pieces of, usually, small side-type stories of characters who have long since died but you discover some of their backstories. Honestly, the exploration in the game is super immersive and it can get you hooked for a good stretch of time.
The story in this game is the largest factor for why it’s so good, of course, in my opinion. The story is completely told through text, which is something I’ll talk about later.
The story is basically as fleshed out and discovered as your effort in exploration makes it to be. So, the more you explore and spend time searching for things and tying up pieces of the story, the more of the experience you’ll reap from.
I talked about it a little before but you basically wake up as an unnamed space pilot that just finished training and it’s your first day out to fly.
No one but you knows about the time loop and you work through each time loop to continue to piece it all together.
The way you kinda work through the entire thing is actually on your ship. You get to see all the story elements that you’ve come upon and where they tie in.
It also helps to check this a lot because it’ll show you if there’s more to be looked into for each story part.
It can get extremely complicated but what’s really surprising to me was that I was able to remember key characters in the game, that you never actually see.
I saw character arks and relationship building between characters that I never saw or even need to talk to in the game.
Instead, I’m an observer who is collecting all the data I can to connect the dots and build these characters.
I think the reason these characters stuck with me is that there’s a gap in the way it’s told that allows the player to imagine. The gap is the lack of dialogue voice acting and seeing the character.
It’s not your typical way of storytelling for this kind of game and it most definitely won’t be for everyone, but I like when developers know when to let certain things up to the player.
I never had a voice or a face to put together with the character, so in a way, they are how I interpret them to be.
I’m probably digging a little too deep into this but that’s just kinda how I see the story being like.
Basically what I’m saying is the story is extremely complex, intriguing, and some of the best character and story building I’ve played, ever.
As a musician and a person who composes and writes music, I just needed to mention the music in this game.
So, the way I see it, there are some soundtracks that are just straight-up impressive in how they were structured and written. I really enjoy those.
In some other cases, there are songs that really aren’t all that elaborate, but have so much charm that when you hear them, it just makes you happy.
That is exactly how I feel with Outer Wilds. When playing through this game, I took a break from it for a good while, but when I got back onto it for the purpose of this video, and I heard the main theme, it made me legitimately happy to hear it.
Again, not anything crazy impressive, but the spirit is there and I think the soundtrack for the game really speaks for itself.
Before my Buy or Pass conclusion, I want to address what I mentioned at the start of this video. The thought that I have for this game is that I actually feel the majority of players will quit the game before experiencing what makes it so great.
Now, why do I say that? Well, the game is entirely in text format. You have to decode all of the hidden messages and stories.
If you don’t like reading in games and you really like dialogue then this is a huge issue. I’m a person who doesn’t mind it as long as it has substance, but even I took a couple of months break from the game.
I think that most people would start it out and eventually leave the game before beating it, and the story and overall atmosphere and wholesome aspects that this game has to offer are better off not played at all than left to never be touched.
It gets tedious sometimes. You have to read every message and if you decide to skip through the dialogue, then you’ll miss the hidden story gems in the game.
Not only that but there is the time loop too. That can be a huge issue for some people, and even more so for some people who don’t like to read the story.
This is the issue with the game, I mean not really with the game or me, but just the issue that the game is set up this way.
It’s meant to be a slow-paced exploration and story-driven game, but with what games people are into now, I feel it doesn’t fit the desires of most of the gaming community.
Buy or Pass?
So, what’s my conclusion? Do I think you should buy Outer Wilds?
In all honesty, for the majority of you out there, no.
Outer Wilds has literally earned a spot as one of my all-time favorite games of all time. It’s so different from any other game I’ve played and it’s just so packed full of story and exploration.
My reasoning for saying no is what I mentioned before. I feel the people will buy the game, play it for a few hours, and leave it.
At that point, I would rather someone not play it at all.
On the other hand, if you feel like a complete text-driven story won’t bother you, and you like slow meticulous exploration.
Then you need to buy Outer Wilds. It’s just one of those indie games that will stick with you because it certainly has for me.
The game, in my opinion, is a masterpiece and it deserves so much more attention than it has. So, for the majority, it’s probably not something you’ll play through. And for the others who think the game would be something you are interested in experiences, you really, really need to play Outer Wilds.