Out There Review: Randomly Explode Your Spaceship

A fun space exploration, mining and survival roguelike which draws inspiration from classic gamebooks and the glory days of star control 2. Dying in space never felt so good.

I'd travelled through two or three star systems and visited twice as many planets. I'd even start to feel like I was getting the hang of mining, crafting and resource collecting when suddenly, without warning, my spaceship exploded and I was left drifting in space with no option but to return to hypersleep. 

As it turns out, this isn't an unusual outcome in this extremely challenging roguelike space adventure.

Classic Heritage

'Out There' is enjoyable on a number of levels and pays homage to some classic sci-fi games. A strong comic book aesthetic sets the scene and the narrative is delivered through "Choose Your Own Adventure" style gamebook story elements. The galaxy exploration feels like classic Elite whilst resource gathering and alien encounters are a little like Star Control 2. All in all it's kind of 80s and this is good thing! The game developer seems to have managed to blend all the best bits of several genres to create this hybrid space explorer. 

All in all it's kind of 80s and this is good thing!

Story wise we don't have much in the way of innovation. The protagonist has been flung into space by some sort of hypersleep malfunction and has to find their way home. Luckily they discover the secret of "Space Folding" as a first port of call and we're off! Okay, so this is basically the plot of Lost In Space but it gets us on our way so, whatever, life's a journey and all that.

A handy alien cube tought me how to space fold. Lucky that!

Survival is simple. Don't run out of fuel, oxygen or iron.

Gameplay is made up of selecting a star to visit next with your limited fuel supply and then hoping to find some useful elements there to keep you going. Fuel and oxygen are obvious and the iron is needed to patch the holes caused by space insects, asteroid altercations or just the day to day stresses of gas giant gravity and solar orbit.

Finding a big ship is really the only way to keep the game going for any length of time...

Apart from these basics, there are a number of other elements to collect and from time to time the player will learn a new recipe to craft some device which may help in the future. Space is very limited so one has to be very careful (and lucky) when choosing what to store, what to build and what to jetison into the infinite blackness of the beyond.

Choose wisely, you don't have much space.

Along the way you can find new spaceships with new modules installed and some additional storage space. Finding a big ship is really the only way to keep the game going for any length of time, however even with a large ship you'll still find yourself in almost constant peril, having to disassemble and reassemble components to get yourself out of a pickle and limp to the next source of helium or iron. The game is a roguelike so you can only really make one bad mistake and that's it, ship busted, back to the start.

The benefit of roguelikes...

This is what makes a good game great. You can't play a roguelike without investing an awful lot into the experience. It's this constant tension and sudden peril that makes the game addictive. Combine this with hundreds of story points and as many as forty endings (according to the developer's site) and this game has some really great replay value. There are a number of different strategies that can be employed to tackle the vastness of space, explore every nook and cranny or rush to avoid wasting resources. Each has it's merits but there are no guarantees with space scavenging. There are plenty of random tragedies to knock us down a peg just when we think we're doing ok. 

Graphics and sound

Visually the game is pretty simple leaving the brunt of the detail to the text based descriptions and the players imaginings. The inside of the spaceship is nothing more than a grid of elements and devices but at the same time this is more than enough for the player to become immersed in the cadence of space hopping from star to star. The game has a decent soundtrack with atmospheric music vague enough to not get stuck in your head. The interstellar travelling "whoosh" sound does get a little annoying after the 50th jump but luckily we're allowed to skip the space fold animation.

Play it again Sam

Roguelikes are replayable of necessity and Out There is no exception. The promise of success is just strong enough to get you to give it one more go and having said that, you'll need to be pretty robust as the majority of games will end in tears. On the other hand, finishing the game doesn't quite reward the effort involved but as I said earlier, life's a journey - not a destination and this doesn't really detract from the experience of actually playing the game. It is surprisingly fun, even exciting trying to find a bit of silicon before you run out of gas. My one regret is that we can't opt to carry on once you've reached the final story point but instead have to start again. There are still some components I've not managed to craft in my several playthroughs and carrying on would make this a little easier. Now, with that in mind I think it's now time to go off and randomly explode in space a few more times. 

Our Rating
7
A fun space exploration, mining and survival roguelike which draws inspiration from classic gamebooks and the glory days of star control 2. Dying in space never felt so good.
Reviewed On: Android

Contributor

Gamer since before I can remember. Pretty diverse in my tastes but if I had to choose, I'm probably an rpg enthusiast. Live in London, developer and I've worked in the games industry.

Games Out There Genres Simulation Platforms Android Tags androidroguelike
Published Dec. 16th 2014

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