Outward is a new survival RPG made by Nine Dots, where you are thrown into the fray, unsure of where to turn next or what to do. You will have to journey across a vast world, making your way to wherever you decide to go. As a survival game, you will need to manage food, water, energy, and impairments. While a lot of it is a standard for what we are used to in the survival genre nowadays, the way Outward handles the needs is a nice change, never feeling tedious or distracting.
Injuries can be fatal, and sicknesses long-lasting and threatening. With no hand-holding and only the clothes (and satchel) on your back, you must begin your own path to… quite frankly, wherever you wish to go. There are plenty of quests and paths to take, but you’re not limited by the choosing. Similarly, there are no levels or scaling, so it’s a case of ‘get good’ and get better stuff.
Fresh out of a crashed voyage, Outward’s short and sweet introduction wastes no time with letting you loose in the game world. Without going into too much detail of the initial plot, you wake up to your fellow villagers waiting outside your door… and they’re mad. Shortly after, you are set loose, told that you must pay your tribal debt of 150 silver to the village chief in five days, or they will seize your house.
Whilst I didn’t fail this task, I would advise caution, as I’m sure the game will not be forgiving, and will genuinely take your home away. Then you’ve got to buy a new one. My five days were not easy, however, as I went exploring, got lost in a cave, got beaten near to death by some bandits on the road back, was dragged back to my home, then woke up three days later with debuffs of Pain and Confusion. Once I recovered my backpack, I had collected enough silver to sell and pay off my debt. So, yeah, I was lucky, in some sense of the word.
This leads me onto one of my favorite features of Outward, and that is the backpacks: these lovely pieces of gear are a physical aspect of your being and must be carried and managed on the go. With controls to pick them up and drop them, whenever and wherever, they play a major part in how you must adapt to each endeavor. For example, while a massive backpack will, of course, allow you to carry an abundance of items compared to just your pockets, your evasive roll will be a lot slower and more of a struggle; and unless you enjoy having an ax in your shoulder or a sword in your neck, you’re going to want to roll.
That being said, you can drop your backpack with the press of a button when combat begins, allowing you to move and maneuver a lot more fluently. This, in many cases, will save your life and will be a necessity for your adventure. Just be sure to remember where you dropped your bag, as it will just lay where it fell. So, try not to drop it in the tall grass, yeah?
Other than the backpacks, another element of the game that really wowed me was the music: right away on the start menu, the music began picking up and I was enjoying every second of it. The epic, fantasy style is definitely captured in the score, and that is a very important aspect of any RPG such as this. With a healthy balance of calm music for exploration and intense combat pieces, you’ll be enticed throughout.
Now, for any of you out there a little unsure of the difficulty of the game, being as it is also a survival game, I’ll be honest with you: it is challenging, the combat especially so. While it’s not unfamiliar to a lot of game styles nowadays, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and injured during each and every battle, unless you take caution - even if that caution is to turn around and go the other way. What will be good news, though, is that Outward offers a tutorial from the start menu, and I would highly recommend playing through it before starting your game. The tutorial is extensive and detailed, but easily supplies you with all of the basic information you will need before going blind into this big adventure.
If the difficulty is still a little daunting, then fear not: Outward also boasts co-operative multiplayer, which is a great addition to a game such as this. And if that’s not enough, co-op also includes split-screen, a feature which is becoming less and less common nowadays. There’s just something enticing about being able to play a massive game like Outward with my friend, while actually chilling out together. Seriously, it’s an experience more games need to offer, and certainly more larger-scale games such as this.
It’s worth bearing in mind that Outward is not a high budget, triple-A game, and as such can be a little rough around the edges. While it’s beautiful in its own way, similar to Fable series, and is extensive in the systems and mechanics it offers, it will not hold up to the likes of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, for example, so don’t expect to be blown away. Still, at the end of the day, what the developers are achieving and striving for with Outward is impressive, and I really can’t wait to see how the game pans out in the future, and what the devs will look to create next.
If you’re a fan of big, open, and somewhat deep RPGs, then I definitely have to recommend Outward to each and every one of you. It feels like a mix between Skyrim, Dark Souls, Ark (or most survival games for that matter), and Fable. However, rather than being a messy blend and a bad clone of each of these, Outward really takes the best parts of them into its own hands, and has created something that truly feels fresh and original, especially for fans of the survival genre. Look out for this game on March 26th, coming to PC, PS4, and Xbox One.