Game review: Outward is a survivalist RPG
We’re sure there’ll be a certain number of people who’ll be reading all this with an increasing sense of relish. But there’s an important distinction to be made here between Outward’s intentions and its achievements. Trying to persevere in such an unforgiving world is a fascinating challenge but, even with someone else along for the ride, it’s still not very much fun to play. Or at least not in the traditional sense.
The combat is absolutely dreadful: horribly imprecise and with very little sense of feedback. As you flail around impotently enemies can you cut you down in just one or two hits, and unlike Dark Souls there’s never any sense of mastering a challenge but rather cheesing your way past it. There is magic in the game but it’s extremely complex and not the sort of thing you can use in a hurry. So instead you slowly realise that the ideal tactic is to try and catch enemies out with traps you’ve crafted, take advantage of their terrible artificial intelligence, or simply try to avoid combat entirely.
In a better, fairer game the harsh punishments for death or time-consuming exploration would’ve been easier to bear but here they just end up frustrating all but the most angelically-tempered players. Dark Souls is enjoyed by so many because no matter how easily you die you always know it’s your fault. Here you end up questioning so many technical and design aspects of the game the real challenge is convincing yourself that it’s still all worth putting up with.
A more competently made version of Outward would be something very special indeed but its faults are so extreme it’s almost unbearable. Demanding a sequel or remake just days after the game’s release may seem pointless but we hope it happens anyway because we’d like to think that this is just the first step on a journey towards a truly classic open world adventure.
In Short: A deeply flawed open world role-player but also an extremely ambitious and unique one, whose approach to co-op play and survival deserves further iteration.
Pros: The concept is fascinating and despite all its flaws the co-op exploration and survival aspects are sill highly compelling.
Cons: Terrible combat and artificial intelligence. Glitchy, unconvincing visuals and dull open world. Punishing difficulty often seems unfair and unbalanced.
Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed)
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Nine Dots
Release Date: 26th March 2019
Age Rating: 12
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