By – Matt Camp

Out There Review He

Imagine being selected for a straightforward mission in space. One that simply requires you to visit Ganymede, one of Jupiter’s moons. Yet, when awaking from stasis, you find you are not where you should be. No longer in our solar system, but somewhere else. This is the astronaut’s fate in Out There: Omega Edition, a space exploration game with roguelike features developed by Mi-Clos Studio. While originally released on mobile devices, the PC version is not a direct port. It is presented via a new graphics engine and features new events not found in the original release, in addition to an extended soundtrack.

From the moment Out There: Omega Edition is launched, two things are apparent. The first is the comic book art style used throughout. The second is the gorgeous soundtrack which compliments the space setting with its chill-out synthesizer vibe. The sparse variety of beeps and boops used for the sound effects however can get annoying very fast. Thankfully, the few available settings do allow these to be adjusted independently of the music. Likewise, the cutscene which plays when travelling between star systems can also be toggled off here. This is useful for those who find it repetitive.

Starting a New Game treats you to an animated intro that explains the astronaut’s predicament in detail along with the option of going through a tutorial. Both of these can be skipped by starting a Quick Game instead. Regardless of how you start, the initial goal of any game is to reach the system indicated by a red marker. This may sound like an easy task, but to achieve success will need careful resource management and a lot of luck; especially in the early stages. In order to survive, there are three areas that need constant attention: fuel, oxygen, and the hull. Travelling between both systems and planets will consume fuel and oxygen. Landing on the surface and drilling for elements require fuel. While probing gas giants, the main source of fuel, will both expend fuel and cause damage to the hull.

Out There Review 1

When drilling or probing there is a choice of depth; the deeper the selection, the more fuel required. The deepest depths carry a high risk of either damaging or destroying related equipment. But it also carries the possibility of hitting an air pocket or fuel. Either of these events can completely fill that resource. Landing on a garden planet also guarantees filling up oxygen. However, with the limited space in the initial ship and the high cost of all actions, it is very likely that you’ll find yourself unable to continue.

This is further compounded by the random events that occur on entering a new system. More often than not, these will result in the loss of a resource or damage to a piece of equipment. Any of which can end in a game over if you do not have the materials to recover. Alternatively, in place of an event, there will be a log entry from the Astronaut or a mini-adventure. While initially interesting, log entries would often repeat when a game lasted long enough. The adventures however can have multiple outcomes depending on your choices or equipment you have crafted. The repetition of these never felt annoying.

Drilling on garden or rocky planets is the primary method of obtaining materials needed in the game. There is also a chance for rocky planets to feature an anomaly, which will award you with one of 20 schematics for a piece of technology. Once crafted, equipment will either enhance an existing function or provide an entirely new one. For example, the Ultraprobe allows the Probe to be used on a star, while the Geo Scanner allows you to see what elements are available on the planet currently being orbited. Some of these devices require specific placement within your ship to create a synergy with the existing parts they complement. As each of these takes up one space of your hold when installed, there is a need to manage space in addition to ensuring you have enough resources to survive.

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The majority of games I played ended in failure very early on. As with any roguelike game featuring a randomly generated map, you can often find yourself in a no-win situation. This is especially a shame in Out There: Omega Edition as there is a far more engaging push for exploration. But in order to experience this long enough to be meaningful, you must be able to negate most of the resource cost needed to stay alive with each action you take. Sometimes, this can be achieved by stumbling upon one of the abandoned ships scattered throughout the galaxy map. There are ten spacecraft in total, with each one having it’s own strengths or weaknesses. Where one ship may give you an advantage in travel costs but have a far smaller hold, another may provide a larger amount of space while no longer accepting a commonly found element for its fuel. The four basic materials used to maintain your ship are clearly indicated by markers. But replacements are not indicated in the same clear fashion.

One of the more interesting aspects of Out There: Omega Editions’ exploration is the chance to encounter alien life on garden planets. The various different alien races each speak a common tongue. But not being from around these parts, this language needs to be learned. This is done be choosing whether to approve or disapprove in response to an alien’s question. Give them the response they are expecting and they will then ask for a material. Again, there is a need to guess which they want. Manage to get this correct and the reward is the translation of several words in the alien language and possibly some technology and an Omega element.

If the alien is not happy with your gift, you only learn one new word. As vocabulary is acquired, the corresponding English will replace the alien speech. Unfortunately during such interactions the term for a selected resource is not necessarily learned. This makes it difficult to readily understand what each alien wants. It is worth noting that the Omega element is unique in that it can only be obtained through random events and interactions with aliens. While other elements are generally only used to either refuel, craft, or fix you vessel, Omega is used to activate special technologies and can act as a replacement for materials usually used for supplying air, fuel, or fixing the hull.

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In later stages, three additional quests will become available as they are discovered. As with the initial mission, the player is only informed of the star system to be reached. It is then up to the player to discover by themselves what actually needs to be done. Although there is no actual combat in Out There: Omega Edition, there is an enemy that can be encountered. Any planet currently occupied by this foe cannot be accessed by the player. This can make finding required sources of materials a further challenge.

Out There: Omega Edition is a fairly polished product, but it is not without some quirks. For example you can run out of fuel and the game will immediately end, even if you have enough materials in your hold to be used as fuel. Such an immediate end makes sense when you run out of oxygen or your ship is destroyed, but feels odd in this case. I also have some trouble with exiting the game. Most of the time the confirmation on trying to exit only registers when pressed a second time. This is only a minor annoyance.  Other than the independent volume controls for music and sound effects, there is very little in the way of settings for customising your experience. Normal and High graphic settings are provided, but I could not discern any significant difference between the two. Throughout my time playing, I had a consistent frame rate of 60FPS.

Out There: Omega Edition was originally played on mobile devices using touch-screen controls. For the new PC version, this has been transitioned to control scheme that primarily focuses on the mouse. A left click is used to interact with all icons and to confirm actions. Right clicking on a material or piece of ship equipment will open up a context menu giving access to other commands, such as for discarding items. The galaxy map can either be scrolled with the mouse using a left click and dragging operation, or by using the arrow keys. There are no options for configuring controls, which a shame as being able to set hotkeys for often-used functions, such as accessing the inventory, would have helped to streamline gameplay.

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Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

I thoroughly enjoyed Out There: Omega Edition. The idea of exploring a vast unknown galaxy in a search for home has kept me engaged. Hopping from one system to the next not knowing what will be discovered is a constant thrill. The resource management elements should appeal to those looking for a twist in the roguelike genre, although I feel they somewhat hinder the exploration aspects. The random galaxy generation and multiple endings means there is a lot of replayability making Out There: Omega Edition very good value for money.

Out There: Omega Edition – Technical Summary

Out There Review Sum

  • Time Played – 7 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1920×1080
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – Problems exiting the game
  • DRM – Steam, DRM-Free (purchase through Humble Store)
  • System Specs – 3.50 GHz i7 3770K , 8GB RAM, 4GB GeForce GTX 670
  • Control Scheme – M/KB
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Steam, Humble Store
  • Demo – No
  • Saved Game Location – AppData\Local\MiClos Studio\OutThereOmegaEdition
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