Subject: Thoth, on why you (yes you) should play *Outer Wilds*
Posted on: 2020-08-28 22:14:38 UTC
What can I say about Outer Wilds?
No, really. I'm trying to figure this out as I'm typing. This is the kind of game that is best experienced going in knowing as little as possible. So if you're willing to take my word for it... buy this game. Play it. It might be the single best thing I've played all year, which is saying something, because Doom Eternal came out this year. It won three BAFTAs, two IGF Awards, and a Golden Joystick, and to my mind it deserves every bit of praise it's gotten. But considering that this game is $25 normally and not literally everyone on earth is exactly the same as me, let me try to explain to you what Outer Wilds is and why it's so incredible. With as few spoilers as possible.
Outer Wilds is a game where you play an alien astronaut in a distant galaxy, who's just been certified and is launching into space for the very first time. But it seems you've been trapped in a time-loop: every time you die, you wake up right before the launch. More worryingly, the sun keep exploding about 22 minutes after. It seems like you should do something about that.
At heart, Outer Wilds is a game about exploration and the joy of discovery. It's about travelling to alien worlds and discovering the artifacts and reading the writings of strange, ancient civilizations. It's about finding planets that don't obey the same rules that your own did, and about slowly filling out a pin-and-string-style log of information about all the exotic places you've been as you try to unravel the mysteries of the universe. It's also one of the few games with a good marshmallow-roasting simulation embedded in it.
Because the game is on a cycle, Outer Wilds can do something not a lot of games like it can: have a world that feels truly dynamic. Even in a short 22 minutes, very little about the solar system stays the same. The game does a good job of hinting what things are changing in places, so while it can make parts of the game obtuse or slow, on the whole I found it really made the game feel far more alive.
It's also an action-adventure game in the truest sense. While the game has more puzzley elements and an emphasis solving problems by understanding the world ala Riven (you can beat the game in less than 22 minutes if you know how to do it: the only thing gating you is that you don't even know what to do or how), there are actual tests of physical skill here: if you don't like using a controller (the recommended way to play) or a keyboard to pilot a spacecraft, and don't want to have to hone your skill to make smooth landings, this might not be your game. It's by no means an intense game and you don't have to be an expert to play: I expect people who haven't really played very many games could pick this up pretty easily, and the game is for the most part extremely forgiving. But if you really don't like those sorts of challenges in any form, this might not be the game for you.
Amidst all the many things I wish I could say but don't want to for risk of spoilers, the one other thing I will say is that this game is aesthetically top-notch. All of the art looks absolutely beautiful, and the soundtrack is so good I'll actually consider purchasing it. I can't imagine how much time and care must have gone into making a game this big feel this polished.
Outer Wilds is available on Steam, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.