REVIEW – There are quite a lot of open-world RPGs out there. You can easily name ten of them without even thinking, I’m pretty sure. However, Outward wasn’t able to show something memorable, which is why it’s only barely recommended. It’s not terrible, but it’s not outstanding either.
The story of Outward isn’t the game’s strong point either, as all you get to do after creating the character, who will be one-of-the-many, is to have 150 silver coins to be paid to your village as your ancestors had debts. You join your friend called Yzan, you get shipwrecked – and if you think co-op gameplay here, you are right -, and you’ll have five days to pay it back. It’s almost like Final Fantasy XIII-3, I mean Lightning Returns!
Aurai’s world will have four factions, and these will offer a different storyline, opening up the classic term of replayability, but if you want to start Outward for the second time, your left eyelid might twitch on purpose, because you’ll learn the hard way how the basic ideas have been ruined by terrible execution once again. I don’t mean that there is no manual saving whatsoever, which is why you cannot utilise the cheesy way of autosaving (which means you have to face the consequences of your actions and failures every single time), so if you get knocked out, which will happen at least once, you will lose everything you had in your backpack.
That’s not my problem. Instead, I feel like the developers wanted to achieve way too much – if you have a big open world, what is the point of it if it’s almost completely unutilised, and it makes you get lost a few times as well? If there are no NPCs (and no fast travel (!!!) either!), then I wouldn’t think it’s a dumb idea if you start to look into the wonders of uninstalling this game, but for those who are up for a challenge and adventure might enjoy this experience. At least they can find a few blueprints that you can put in your backpack (backpack, backpack! backpack, backpack! I don’t know the rest of the song in English, and oh wait, it’s not Dora the Explorer!), which will help you craft more items, and you can also hide your traps in the trusty backpack that could come in various sizes as well. The issue is that the magic-related blueprints (yes, you read that correctly!) can’t be bought oh-so-easily, which means you’ll have to find them (and the eight quickslots will fill up in no time). But it’s not easy in a lifeless world where you won’t even have a horse to make your traversing speed better.
Survival of the fittest (?)
To survive (which means you will have to take care of your hunger, thirst, sleep deprivation, as well as your body temperature), you should have a decent combat system as well. Even though you have the ordinary sword, bow/arrow, spear, and axe, the combat doesn’t feel right to me even with switching out the quicker attacks to the stronger ones – it felt like swinging the weapon randomly (the same goes for the enemies, too), and it’s basically like playing lottery. If you want to push magic into the mix, you may have to sacrifice your HP and stamina to gain more mana. Whose dumb idea was that, get outta here! The night combats are even more dangerous, which will make you fall on your ass a few times, losing what you had in your backpack in the process, but you might lose everything via a simple bug, too… which is why navigating menus will be a key part of the gameplay, as you’ll have to shift items around to avoid losing them thanks to bad programming. Oh, and get used to those wonderful loading screens, too!
So what’s the issue? Well, Outward feels like… hm, how should I put it… a game from fifteen years ago. It looks a little ugly, and even its audio feels a bit off as well. Seeing how the gameplay isn’t memorable either – lacking polish, perhaps? -, there’s only one thing that saves the game from a lowly score of a five out of ten: the cooperative gameplay that can be utilised via split screen or online. I’m serious, that’s the sole reason why the score as it is a few lines below this text. (And it could have been even better if the second player’s backpack wasn’t even buggier…) Okay, there’s one more good thing: your evasion/dodging speed depends on how packed your backpack is. That makes sense.
Ah, hell no.
I was thinking whether I should give Outward a six or a six-and-a-half out of ten, but seeing how it’s a Gothic or a Risen-clone (and not a better one at that, might I add), let’s find the middle ground here. It’s buggy (I noticed how the sound went mute after sleeping, lol), and outdated – unfortunately, you need more than this nowadays. If you want to play something similar, albeit with a slightly more futuristic touch, I’d recommend Piranha Bytes’ (incidentally, the devs of Gothic or Risen…) ELEX. It’s not that expensive anymore… although it’s still 50 euros on Steam, while Outward is 40. It will likely get chopped to a twenty during Easter, and that’s a good buy. For Outward, nope. Wait half a year or so – it might be updated enough by then, and it could even be worthy of a 7.5 out of 10, but now? Absolutely not.
+ Four factions, replayability
+ Cooperative gameplay
+ Adventurers might find it fun
– B. U. G. G. Y.
– Did I say that its buggy? Even in co-op, too, and the combat system might be unpolished
– Horrible audiovisuals
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Nine Dots Studio
Release date: March 26, 2019