This is the Outer Wilds, a game that captures the explorer’s spirit. You don’t have just an open world, you have an open (admittedly tiny) solar system to explore! You are the newest member of the Hearthian space program, and you alone hope on a little one person spaceship and go out to find discoveries on the other planets of the solar system. Will you answer the call and figure out the mysteries of the ancient alien ruins?
I have not played a game quite like this one where freedom and mystery and some confusion drives you.
Find it on Steam.
A game hasn’t given me a sense of dread quite like this game. It is a different kind of feeling from being scared, but it is also terrifying as you face down the worlds of your solar system, the vastness of space and more. If you have a fear of large emptiness, this game might worry you.
Also, this game truly does make you feel like an explorer seeking out ancient ruins. There only instruction you have is go out and explore. Everything else is on you. You must be motivated to go out, see what’s out there and mess up. There is nothing the game will tell you to do. So you must self-motivate to see more.
You do get several tools to help you get around. The most important of which is the ships logs, which is kind of like a summary of information you learned. You also have a scout that is like a camera you can launch out and use to look around. All of the tools you have are really useful and cool fits the charming presentation of the game well. Like, you don’t have a scanner, you have a signalscope, which detects audio frequencies.
The style of the game is great. The music fits the mood well. The planets are all really different and full of wonder. The characters you meet are all a bit different. I don’t think there is a reused Hearthian model around. The charming wooden structure of your spaceship is great, as well as all of the little details inside.
Getting around the solar system isn’t quite so complicated that you need to know orbital physics, but know that gravity is always acting on you. Don’t get pulled into some place you don’t want and crash. And there is an autopilot that takes you to each planet, but know that it goes in a straight line, so don’t have the sun anywhere near your path. Getting around is pretty fun, though. So it’s great. And the ship isn’t that weak, so feel free to land with a bit of speed.
I don’t want to talk too much about what you’ll find. Most people can only experience things for the first thing once. And knowing what’s out there will lessen the impact of it. This is a game without upgrades. The only thing you get is more information to go further and deeper. So go forth and explore!
Find it on Steam!
The following images will be a bit more spoiler-y, but I do have more thoughts that require giving you a bit more information about the game. Not too much, though.
Alright, so the main mechanic of the game, which you’ll discover in about an hour or so of play time, is that you’re in a time loop. This is both cool and annoying at the same time. It’s cool since you’ll likely lose your ship or die horribly at some point in the game. All that happens is your restart the loop.
For me, at least, the loop pushes me for a one more time kind of thing. I learned something the previous loop and I’m excited to put it to use in this new loop. It can also be annoying since I might be in the middle of something but the loop is coming to an end. And I’m like, “No! Come on!”
Still, the game is designed such that once you know where to go, you can reach any location relatively fast. Anything that is more difficult to reach you won’t really need to get to more than a few times, assuming you find everything the first time you get there.
Outer Wilds gives me feelings that few other games can. It gives you the freedom to explore an entire solar system and is willing to terrify you with what you find.