Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 3
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Getting stranded in the middle of uncharted space seems like a nightmare. And it’s a nightmare players will be reliving again and again in Out There as they attempt to find their way home; hopping between numerous star systems while desperately trying not to run out of resources. It’s usually a fun and satisfying brand of desperation, but the plethora of random factors can sometimes be a problem.
Out There puts players in the role of one very unfortunate castaway. They’ll need to brave the vastness of space in a desperate bid to find their way home, but with fuel and oxygen in such limited supplies they’ll have to be extra careful. It plays a lot like reading a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book with randomized events, resource management, and tech trees. Players will have to carefully balance everything by stopping at planets in order to mine for metals (to repair the hull or build new technologies), scrounge for fuel and oxygen (to keep their ship moving and not suffocate, respectively), and make snap decisions during special events that could help, hinder, or vaporize them.
The random elements go a long way to making Out There worth replaying several times over, and the slick sci-fi comic book visuals are a visual treat. Managing resources and deciding what to do also carries an awful lot of weight; making every decision feel significant. Being low on fuel is scary, but maybe it’s better to spend a little of what’s left to harvest metals and repair the hull before orbiting a gas giant with a volatile atmosphere? Of course there’s no guarantee that mining will yield enough of the required metals.
Unfortunately those same random elements might put some players off. No amount of planning and strategizing will make a difference if players manage to somehow stumble upon several systems in a row without planets they can harvest fuel from. It can also be irritating to make it pretty far only to succumb to a random event. It’s the nature of such games, of course, but here it feels like there’s a bit too much reliance on the roll of the metaphorical dice. A less subjective problem I’ve encountered is that it takes a bit too long to start a new game after a failure. I’m totally fine with losing, but having to wade through various slow-moving (excruciatingly so after several attempts) transitions to get back to a fresh run feels unnecessarily restrictive.
I’ve definitely enjoyed my time spent drifting around Out There, but the fairly severe Roguelike elements and the reliance on randomness definitely aren’t for everyone. I also really, really wish it were possible to jump back into a new game without having to go back to the main menu, skip the intro, wait for the title to drift by, choose New Game, then finally start playing again. Still, it can be quite the space-faring adventure once players are in the thick of it.