I’ve always wondered what it would be like getting lost in space. Would it be as terrifying as I imagine, or more of a peaceful solitude? If Out There by Mi-Clos Studio is any indication, it would be a little bit of both. This iOS/Android space adventure will teach you a thing or two about proper decision making and learning from your mistakes.
While it’s hard to cram it into any one genre, I would call this an adventure/survival game, with a heavy dosage of discovery. At first glance you’ll surely think of FTL, but the two actually have very little in common. Out There has no space combat at all, and that’s okay. As I mentioned, this game is about discovery; and depending on how quickly you nail down a good strategy, it will probably take you a whole bunch of runs to see it all.
It’s the 22nd century, man is running out of resources and has never explored past the solar system. The farthest we’ve made it at this point is to Ganymede, a moon orbiting Jupiter. During a routine trip to this moon, you wake up in the cryotube, but not anywhere near the destination. In fact, you’ve made it outside the solar system. Waaaay out there.
Luckily, your ship is equipped with an interplanetary reactor, allowing you to jump between solar systems. Your goal is to make it back home, which is quite a trip from where you’ve awoken in space. Gameplay consists of jumping between solar systems, managing resources, and making decisions on randomly occurring events. You’ll meet alien races and discover their technologies, while also learning their language along the way.
Survival is difficult in Out There, especially at first. There’s a randomly generated roguelike system at play, so each star map is different, and it’s all over when you die. But you’ll start to learn which planets yield which resources and decisions will start to shift as you become more familiar with everything. It’s the perfect example of a game that has you learning something each time you fail. I was consistently making it farther each run, and I started to see the overarching narrative at play. Once I realized there was so much to learn about why I found myself lost in the middle of nowhere, I was hooked.
There is quite a bit of luck at play, which may turn some people off. This did bother me at first, but I learned that better decision making seemed to outweigh my frequent bad luck. Sometimes moving on to the next solar system is going to be better than using resources drilling a planet that won’t yield a beneficial return. The best thing to stumble upon is another ship, from which you can steal cargo, or hop in and take off. The other ships will have varying tech, but they’re usually an upgrade either way.
Out There has a nice looking comic book art style; all the ships, stars, and alien races are colorful and unique. The audio is fairly minimal, but suits the game well. Music was composed by Siddartha Barnhoom, you may know his work from The Stanley Parable or Antichamer. The eerie and almost somber tone fits right in with being completely lost in space.
Some of the writing is a little messy, but it’s not something that bothered me too much, as the overall story kept me hooked and wanting to play one more round. There’s a whole alien language that you can learn that will help clue you in on certain decisions to make. I found myself wanting to discover the next word of the language or to find another alien race I hadn’t seen before. But more than anything, I wanted to make it home. Once you start to learn the meaning of it all, you’ll really want to make it to the end. But it won’t be easy, this game is seriously tough.
It’s not the most exciting in terms of gameplay, and after I had played a few times, I was skipping all the warp speed scenes and just tapping away as quickly as possible to keep things moving. But again, Out There is more about the overall experience, the feeling of being alone and trying to get home. You’ll quickly learn that there’s a bigger story at play, and you’ll want to find out what it’s all about. The only way to do that is to keep dying and learning.
Simply put, I would highly recommend Out There to anyone that enjoys a mysterious adventure game. I never felt like I had played this game before, and that’s a rare feeling these days. There’s something to say for a unique little adventure like this. And I learned that being lost in space can indeed be both terrifying and peaceful; but it’s also fun and exciting. You can snag it on the App Store or Google Play for $3.99.
[+Beautiful space adventure][+Mysterious narrative pulls you in][+Lots to explore and discover][-Luck factor can be frustrating][-Minor editing errors in the writing]