#3: Outer Wilds
Played on Xbox One X | Released 29th May | Developed by Mobius Digital
Outer Wilds is the kind of game that you need to go into blind. In the lead up to me actually starting this game, I heard so many people singing its praises, but none of them actually going into any detail about what the game actually was. Saying nothing more than it being a game about camping in space.
In reality, that description gives no real indication as to what kind of game Outer Wilds is, rather it simply describes the style and feeling of the game’s first few hours before you really get into how deep and far reaching the implications of both what this game is and what it’s trying to say.
I’m going to break the rule that people seemed determined to press onto me before I playing this game and give a description what what’s going on in the loosest possible terms.
You’re a new astronaut on a quaint little planet of aliens, going out to see the micro solar system for yourself. However, at the beginning of your journey, you find yourself scanned by some kind of ancient alien relic. 22 minutes later (if you manage to survive that long) you see the sun go supernova. Jerking awake, you find yourself back at the beginning of the game.
Thus you continuously relive this 22 minute loop, trying to discover exactly what happened to the aliens that left these artifacts behind, what’s causing this sun to prematurely die, and what you can do to free yourself from this loop.
The genius of Outer Wilds is that there is no real state of progression within the game. The only thing that drive you further towards the end is your own knowledge, so the only thing that persists from run to run are the lore entries you uncover long the way. If you knew exactly what to do, you could finish this game easily within your first 22 minute cycle. Hence why so many people don’t want to talk about the game whatsoever.
Thus the game does not hold your hand at all. Which really created a lot of my frustrations with the early parts of the game where I really had no idea what was happening. It wasn’t until I started to really understand the loop that I found myself truly appreciating the game.
Once I stopped making assumptions borne from years of playing games and started taking on board the Outer Wild’s unique mechanics that the game was trying to teach me, I started to realise why this game was so special. The sense of wonder, discovery, frustration, terror and awe that this game managed to inspire in me really made it stick out at something really special and unique amongst all of the games that came out this year.
I just wish I’d been smart enough to finish the final parts of the game before giving up and looking up a guide. As well made and revelatory as this game was, it is by no means easy to play, in terms of its mobility and the puzzles towards the end of the game.
Either way though, I’m glad I did though, because the ending to this game is a fantastic moment of clarity and *revelation?* that caps off a fantastic experience throughout. In a world with so much iteration in video games, Outer Wilds is something truly unique in design and scope that really needs to be appreciated by as many people as possible.