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    dkirschner's Outer Wilds (PC)

    [January 16, 2022 11:53:48 AM]
    I appreciate what Outer Wilds is doing, but overall did not enjoy the experience. This is a time loop game. I have played/am playing two of these recently (12 Minutes and now The Forgotten City) and therefore have few data points to compare. However, I disliked 12 Minutes considerably, whereas The Forgotten City I find extremely engaging. Outer Wilds is somewhere in between.

    Outer Wilds is, perhaps more than a time loop game, an exploration game. Yes, the sun goes supernova every 22 minutes and forces you back to your home planet, but the fun lies in exploring the unique planets and other bodies in the solar system and unraveling the mystery behind an a group of space travelers long gone. Where did they come from? What were they doing? Where did they go?

    The game is open-ended. You can travel nearly anywhere from the very beginning. It doesn't matter where you go first. You complete the introduction, then hop in your space rocket and fly somewhere, land, and explore. I went first to my planet's moon, and then to the next-closest planet, and outward from there. You will slowly discover strange writing, ruins, and the ever mysterious quantum objects, and begin seeing threads to follow.

    I said that the planets are very creative and unique. For example, the two closest to the sun are the Hourglass Twins. The Ash Twin and the Ember Twin are next to one another, connected by a constant stream of sand Ash Twin sheds onto Ember Twin. Over the 22-minute loop, Ember Twin's caverns fill up, closing or opening some areas, and Ash Twin's surface becomes visible as sand flows away. It was a cool moment when I realized that the planets actually change over the course of the loop, and that I could actually investigate Ash Twin, which I had previously assumed was always covered in sand. If you pay attention, you will see that a lot in the solar system changes over the course of the loop. Another planet has a giant black hole in the center, and as you explore the ruins beneath, you're constantly in danger of getting sucked into it. That is theoretically neat and all, but boy is it annoying when you accidentally fall and get sent through the black hole to the edge of the solar system, where you must wait for a space station to come near (the "white hole"), which will let you warp back to the planet once its orbit aligns with the station. It wastes at least 5 minutes every time.

    And that is the main issue I have with Outer Wilds. I understand that the 22-minute supernova is explained through the story. I appreciate that. But everything is intriguing enough without you being forced back to your home planet every 22 minutes! The time loop feels punishing and like it arbitrarily extends the game's length. The worst part was when I learned how the Hourglass Twins work, then solved a ton of puzzles on Ash Twin, and was ALMOST DONE, like literally running toward the end that would give me a final piece of knowledge, and the sun went supernova and back to the start I went. I had to go back to Ash Twin, wait for the sand to flow out again, and re-do all the puzzles. That kind of thing happens constantly. You're in the middle of doing something, the sun goes supernova, and you have to go back to the beginning, fly yourself back to where you were, get out of your rocket, walk back to wherever it was on the planet, if you even remember how to get there, then pick back up where you left off. I played about 6 hours and I bet at least a quarter of that time was re-treading my steps.

    How to solve this problem? Well, as stated, I understand the supernova is part of the story. So perhaps some fast travel? Better controls to make flying and jetpacking around more precise? Something to make movement more fun? Artificially extended supernova time so you can always finish if you're in the middle of something. I mean, is anyone sitting there with a 22-minute timer? (Probably...). I wouldn't know if the supernova happened at 20 or 25 or 30 minutes. I'm busy exploring, reading, thinking. I know also that the two time loop games I've recently played reset the loop when you die or when you choose some action. Having that control over when to reset taken away was frustrating. As I said, I am playing The Forgotten City now (probably getting close to done), and I enjoy it so much more for a lot of reasons that I'll reflect on when I'm done. But I know that time loop games are hot right now, I expect I'll play more of them, and I'm excited to see how else this mechanic is implemented.
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    dkirschner's Outer Wilds (PC)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Got frustrated

    GameLog started on: Thursday 13 January, 2022

    GameLog closed on: Friday 14 January, 2022

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Interesting world, but I immediately dislike the timed loops worse than the loops resulting from your actions! --------- Yeah, neat solar system to explore, but forced restarting every 22 minutes sucks.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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