Developed by Nine Dots Studio, and published by Deep Silver, Outward is a unique RPG that mixes high immersive gameplay, with survival elements with a strong co-op connection! Quickly becoming a Mostly Positive reviewed game on Steam, this adventure sets out to be one of the most prestigious open-world games of 2019, and possible, to retain an even higher status with future updates!
Let’s face it, you’re a nobody that carries a blood debt! No, you haven’t killed anyone, but your ancestors did cause problems to the tribe, and you are somewhat of an outcast. That’s life in this world, where actions from your past family members still reflect on the present! Harsh, but not so harsh as the fact that your opportunity to strike some precious gold went down the ocean in a shipwreck, and you now have exactly 5 days to come up with 150 gold, to pay your 4 months late rent! Welcome, to Outward!
"Ordinary people can live Extraordinary lives", and this is one of the main mottos of the game, as it emphasizes on adventure and living with its consequences, in a large exploration foundation. Outward sets itself in a very distinct position, one that only a few brave developers dare in today’s age, mixing survival with a new setting approach for the RPG genre.
Players grab their backpack, and set foot following quests in hope to resolve their precarious situation, and it’s how one does it that has a special taste, as players can find several ways to complete quests. The world of Aurai, may look like many other places, but it’s quite unique, with diseases and dangerous beats laying around at every corner. If none of these will kill you, being unprepared, will certainly put a break in your journey.
Character development is highly important, with a fantastic crafting system that allows players to come up with food recipes, increasing armour, brewing new potions, and even extract poison to apply and increase the power of your weapon. Yes, you’ll need to eat and drink, to remain as healthy as possible, and drinking or eating the first thing you see is a terrible idea. Diseases play a big part in the world of Aurai, and it’s not even the major condition!
There is not such thing as a game over, or a save-game for that matter, and pausing does not stop in-game time! When players die, it’s always an unexpected event. Go back home with the help of a travelling NPC, end up a prisoner of the nasty folk, or just wake up almost naked, with no gold and barely surviving! Almost anything is possible, but there are plenty of elements to fight such odds!
As mentioned, the crafting system allows one to build traps for your enemies. Be proactive, stealth your away around your enemies, prepare the traps, and strike them. There are no experience points to be gained, instead, one has to rely on trainers scattered around the world, but be warned, they have a price. This whole system is somehow very reminiscent of the Gothic series, but with much more ramifications, where trainers can teach and improve your combat behavior, as well as how you use your weapons. They want gold, of course, so it’s recommended that you plan your quests by the buck!
Weapons of choice are wide and large, but don’t be surprised if it takes a long time to access one. Swords and spears are cool, but you’ll start with a simple axe, or a machete, weapons more associated with work, rather than fighting large beasts. Don’t underestimate them though, one has to eat after all. You have to hunt and fish for your food, and tools are essentials. Magic is absolutely amazing, but comes with a price, the price of patience and perseverance. To simply have mana, one has to go on a pilgrimage, and not just a spiritual one, as it will test if you’re worthy of such powerful accessory!
Danger doesn’t come exclusively from bands of bandits or wild beasts, even though finding some strange insect-like creatures may actually put you in a dangerous situation, they are no bigger threat than just a simple cold. Yes, weather has an effect on your character, and a simple cold is enough to weaken your adventurer, with a decrease in strength that is simply not enough for fighting encounters anymore. You are lucky if you can spend the time in bed to cure it, but out in the wild, it may be a death sentence, which by other means, another step back in your objective!
As mentioned above, crafting means upgrading your armour, but sometimes one has to protect from the rough environments, such as a harsh cold, or the torrid sun of the desert. The vast world of Aurai has quite distinct regions, from winter like mountains, to deserts and beautiful green pastures. They all have equality dangerous dungeons, but that’s for you to find out!
Whatever you do, you have to deal with your choices, either as a story-based or just side-questing, whatever happens, you’ll have to stick with it. This adds an incredible replayability, and at each new game, it’s only natural you’ll be more experimental. Although there’s some rough decisions, the game still delivers plenty of natural materials to upgrade your path ahead. Pausing the game is also not the best option, since it does not stop time, even though the game is paused, the in-game clock will keep running, and effects such thirst or hungry will be applied.
There’s lore of the world for each region in particular, with conflicted factions and a past story entwined with your present actions. In a world where the map does not pinpoint your position, and it’s required to use world landmark locations, NPC’s will unveil the mysteries of the land, piece by piece. Dialogues are interesting, and some are even partially voiced-over, which does not break the pursuit for answers, not even a little.
One extra gameplay feature is the local and online co-op setting! Co-op in split screen is a welcome change of tides for this current generation, with endless possibilities of cooperation, as both work together and share the loot and items. This will make your adventure much more interesting, but enemies are buffed with extra health. In co-op you can resurrect your friend, unless both are dead, in that case, who knows what might happen!
Visually, character creation leaves something to be desired, but who knows what the future holds for updates? The world is vast and delivers all sorts of color palettes. The user interface is simple, intuitive and very well organized, avoiding unnecessary over complicated menus! The world looks and feels beautiful, but we all know Unity can be demanding, especially on old hardware. But if so, reducing the resolutions will help. There's all sorts of options that one could desire, and for a Unity game, it's very well optimized when comes to user settings.
Developed by a small team, Outward is a statement to the role-playing genre, with real decisions, and an extremely immersive gameplay, that will make you dive in an adventure for hours on end. One of the most relevant games of 2019 so far, in my humble and simple opinion!