Outward is a game where, originally, I desperately wanted so I could explore this open-world RPG with a friend, as it was a possibility that two review copies would be available for this purpose. Sadly, that didn’t happen, but after playing the game for three hours, I was well aware that this was definitely not a game they would enjoy.
At the start of Outward you get to pick your race – there are four to pick from and each have a little bit of their own back story, much in the way an Elder Scrolls game would. What you will notice straight away is that the developers really didn’t focus heavily on the graphics for this game. Even though I was playing it on the Xbox One X, I wondered whether I had actually mistakenly placed the game into my Xbox 360 and even then, they aren’t ground-breaking. Looking at the character faces, you can see a lack of recognition of anything humanlike within them.
Even when you get to explore some of the better and finer armoury, there just always seems to be something missing. Potentially, they decided that they didn’t need to focus on the graphics because the camera angles never really get close… It is more likely that they decided to put most of their focus into the depth and complexity of the game and that took more priority – similar to Ark, where due to the large and open world the graphics aren’t amazing. Saying that, Outward’s graphics are definitely worse than Ark’s. The problem with this new game is that everything just felt a little bit buggy. I mean I couldn’t count the amount of times I was walking on air. I waited for a week to see if some glitch patches and fixes were going to be released but it seemed they never were.
I wasn’t going to let the graphics be the reason for me disliking a game though. In this current gen it does seem popular for games to use simpler graphics but focus more on the gameplay. After a couple of long sessions on Outward, I realised that the gameplay was just not for me. My character had been in great debt due to his family’s mistakes and to pay off the debt he travelled across the seas. Turmoil erupted as the boat sunk and many died. Your character sees off a witch hunt because the misfortune of the boat must have been his fault – even though it wasn’t. Your life seems in danger but one of the many villagers speaks out for you and grants you an extension on repaying all the payments that you missed due to your rocky adventures. A little like a Brexit extension…
Annoyingly, it turns out that there is no possible way that you can make that sort of money pimping yourself out in our bustling city you must travel outside of the gates. I was slightly perplexed why I had to then run around talking to people about becoming prepared to sleep and live outside the gates, considering I had spent the last three months on a boat. This brought about my biggest gripe with this game: what on all earth is the map up to? So, even in the small city at the start I found it hard to work out where I was going. Then, remembering the advice on the cut-scene, I opened up the map and was still none the wiser. There was no way of you targeting an area where you would like to go and I was often baffled as to where my character actually was.
When it came to weaponry, potions, food, crafting, armoury and all those areas associated with this type of game, it was second probably only to Skyrim. Within the first 5 minutes, I had already gathered around 17 different herbs. How I was going to use, blend and cook with them, throughout my whole time playing the game was an absolute mystery, though. I could never get to grips with the system and just found it too complicated. Personally, it was far too detailed and there were too many variations of everything.
My second biggest problem was how you could end up in a deadly spiral. The first time I played it, it took me close to 50 minutes before I died. Then I woke up in some sort of prison area, managed to get outside… and died again. Then I woke up… and died again. Then I switched off the game and started again. It was one of the most infuriating and frustrating gaming experiences I have had since trying to play Anthem on release.
(DVDfeverDom: This sounds like the plot of Happy Death Day!)
I wish I could now tell you about how the sound saved the game completely but I can’t. Outward decided to use the most annoying use of speech ever in the history of games – where subtitles come up and the characters says a paraphrased version of it. This is quite common in Japanese games but I was vexed to see it in Outward. I’m not going to lie – sometimes the words that you heard didn’t seem to have much to do with what the character was actually saying. It was a real mess and was another area that they really needed to fix quickly but the fixes didn’t seem like they were coming. The rest of the time, most of the game was set in silence. It was a little eerie but because the world was so vast and open it all felt a little unsettling.
Overall, this game caused more pain and anguish than most of the games I have played in the past. No matter how long I kept on going I just found that I wasn’t having fun. The concept and idea is a great one unfortunately the delivery and execution just didn’t come off. I will, however, try this game again if some good patches are eventually released.
(DVDfeverDom: I actually like the look of this. Yes, the graphics aren’t exactly ‘modern-day’ but they’re liked polished versions of games from around the year 2000, which is an era I loved, and so it gives it a retro charm. I think I’ll have to give this a spin on PC!)
- Developer: Nine Dots Studio
- Publisher: Deep Silver
- Players: Single-player, co-op
I have been a video game player since 1993 and a music fan since I can remember. I studied Film and Journalism at university and ended up becoming a Primary School teacher. Video games changed my life and sent me on the right track and have stayed with me ever since.