OutWard: The good and the not so good of the deeds of magic and swords!
How many RPGs did you start being chosen? The descendant of a powerful lineage of heroes, one who is called to reduce the forces of evil or that exiled prince who is exposed to all kinds of adventures. In OutWard we must make use of magic and the sword, yes, but we will not be that someone touched gently by the finger of fate: in the open world of Nine Dots Studio we can fall in battle, but also succumb to starvation or fatigue. And that makes it more interesting.
We have become accustomed to Dark Souls, Final Fantasy and Skyrim are the three rods to measure the RPGs when entering into epic fantasy universes. Excessively high battens, especially for OutWard, whose proposal explores several of its nuances and others that seemed to have been extinguished. The key question now is: to what extent does that play in your favor?
The new roleplay proposal of the creators of GoD Factory: Wingmen defines itself as an adventurer’s life simulator and is designed to fit very well among those who have gotten through the main saga of The Elder Scrolls. And although at first sight it seems to be wrong to be between the generic and the outdated, you should not judge a book by its cover.
In fact, labeling OutWard is the simplest thing. We will soon see similarities with Skyrim or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild during the first bars of our game, and when we have to explore grottos and more closed environments we will see a combat system with too many elements borrowed from the SoulsBorneseries.
But we’re not going to go around the bush. Like the previous references -and those that we left in the inkwell- the real experience is to discover its true immensity beyond the mapping, something that requires a more detailed observation work. Of course, because its constant self-preservation system means that, if we make a mistake, there is no turning back. A price that no player can be willing to pay. Because OutWard is the most human part of the fantasy that has captivated us for decades.
Your OutWard character is not someone who has the favor of the gods and, unlike most contemporary games, Nine Dots Studio will not take you by the hand during the first bars of the game. Yes, there is a tutorial, but in the end it is nothing more than a huge and labyrinthine training dungeon where you can get the basic controls.
Once you have chosen the appearance of our hero (although there is not much choice either) you will realize that we start with all possible counters in red: we have miraculously escaped a shipwreck and the blood debt we inherited, which was the why we boarded, was not paid. Right now we have one hand in front, another hand behind and five days to pay your creditors.
With nothing to lose and a context not much greater, the only possible way out of that situation is to arm ourselves with what we have, try to put some provisions in our backpack and travel with more uncertainty than motivation the vast world of Aurai without really knowing where direct us or what kind of creatures and bandits await us along the way.
Fortunately for the player – and unfortunately for our character – OutWard is not a simulator of walks, but the life of the adventurer. What does that mean? Starting, going through the tutorial is highly recommended as we will leave without knowledge of magic and alchemy, solving our first encounters and difficulties through the use of force and-hopefully-the sword. And beware, the use of magic will also require some sacrifice on our part.
In the open world of Aurai, a strong emphasis has been put on the survival element.
In essence we can hit or cut, cover, attack with force and dodge; and as a general rule, all of the above will cost us strength and resistance. The weight that we carry on will also affect our mobility, although with a simple gesture we can throw our backpack to the ground to be able to maneuver better, although the movements of our character will not be precisely delicate.
In OutWard there is no turning back. You cannot die, as you always end up awakening under some roof as a prisoner or as a guest, but if luck does not accompany you, you will see that your inventory has become something of food, some sad rags and maybe you have the shower to find a sharp object. In fact, it rules out returning to an earlier point in the game as in Skyrim.
We will be exposed to the bacteria in our clothing or contaminated water. If we drink sea water we will get more thirsty and we will be exposed to the same weaknesses as any human being. There is a marked emphasis within the survival element.
Do not worry, the difficulty is not that of Dark Souls nor will you start surrounded by criminals. But we will also value our progress and achievements in another way, since the underlying idea takes us to the roots of the RPG: it is not so much about following the dotted line that the script of the game leaves us (which is resolved in about 60 hours) but to immerse ourselves in the adventure. And that accomplishes it wonderfully. Especially two.
An immersive world that works much better in cooperative
At an artistic level, the effort that Nine Dots Studio has put into OutWard is pleasantly surprising: to the rhythm of a surprisingly successful soundtrack, a wide contrast of lands, creatures and magic effects will be opened to establish the mime that has been placed on the project. The bad news is that this environmental and design burden is largely hindered by one of its palpable weaknesses: the visual result in general terms.
It’s time to talk about the technical section and we came across the first delicate point of the game: OutWard has the appearance of a title of the past generation, and general features is not for a lack of effort to create a living and organic world but with huge empty sections, but because at no time gives the feeling of having the budget of an overproduction or be in front of a project in which hundreds of developers have been involved. Put another way: despite the production, it fails to dazzle what we expect from a project launched in 2019.
You will see that the history and the context are offered during loading screens that, without being tedious, do not manage to go unnoticed enough, and a game interface -especially in the matter of inventories- that the peceros will be able to ignore, but that involves several steps backwards in consoles.
We refer to menus in which the weight of our luggage, tiredness, hunger and thirst of our character or mana management itself, skills and magic could have been integrated in a much more accurate in the experience. Because I do want to tackle an open world in which I will have to fight for all our achievements and in which I will not count on mounts while I cross it from end to end, but there are too many small details that – without taking me out of the experience – I end up thinking that they could be done in a more effective way.
But all the above, both good and what could be improved, is relegated to the star feature of this game: how simple and successful is your cooperative.
The true point of identity of OutWard is given by your cooperative
At any point of the game we can split the screen if we have a second command, also offering online alternatives without matchmaking, so that we can address all the secrets, challenges and wonders of Aurai in two easy steps and when we want. The conditions?
- The two players must be in the same area, although they can move away as much as they want from each other.
- We will not see a radar that tells us the position of our partner, although the compass will allow us to find each other.
Of course, Nine Dots Studio anticipates our own intentions by adjusting the level of the difficulty so that the enemies become stronger or receiving these reinforcements so that at all times the player has his feet on the ground. Especially when it is also not possible to jump or swim.
But in the end, it is that cooperative that ends up giving the point of identity to OutWard, so that, although it does not manage to stand out from other proposals of magic and fantasy in open worlds – even though part of a solid base – we find in its mode sharing sofa and adventure with another player. Giving us an extra bit of hope when we are downcast or discovering, at the same time, where we have to redo our path.
Now, although the plot of OutWard does not have too many laps, it is not a game that can be squeezed out of a simple pass. We will see up to four factions and the only way that the completists tie all loose fringes at the plot level is through four different games. Nine Dots Studio not only puts the game style on track to offer absolutely unique and unrepeatable games, but also quadruples its replay value. Not bad, of course.