Outward: Definitive Edition

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Outward: Definitive Edition (Playstation 5) – Review

Developed by Nine Dots and Published by Deep Silver, Outward is a very intriguing open-world RPG, however, not only would I call it an RPG, but also a survival and strategy game that has a genuine uniqueness I have rarely seen in a game. This game has truly piqued my interest. I love RPGs, especially fantasy and adventure, and this shows a marvelous take on the genre. The developers wanted to create something different, and I think they achieved this, or at least they have grasped their goal. This is a more realistic view of an adventure, not as some fated hero or species capable of great power, but that of simple upbringing just an ordinary human, using intelligence and cunning to overcome difficulties, finding better equipment to better guard against dangers, and learning new technologies to improve oneself.

Though there is a story to follow and quests to complete, I don’t feel that it is the true goal. Exploration and achievement are what I found to be the most exciting parts. The first time you ever leave your hometown, you find yourself washed up on the coastline after the ship you were on sunk after crashing into the rocky shelf. Now, with debts that need to be paid, you choose to venture out to both clear your debt and prove to yourself that you are more than what others believe you to be. From here you can pretty much do what you want, but be wary, this game has a lot of freedoms, but also many dangers.

There is a tutorial that you can choose to run you through the basics, however, for me, it seemed like it would ruin the “you are on your own” feeling that I believe the game developers were aiming for. Besides, it did not take long to work out what buttons did what and how you use certain mechanics, such as the cooking pot and alchemy set. Uncovering these things, or any of the other features of the game, gave a sense of accomplishment that is rarely felt in games nowadays. Honestly, the games I can say feel the closest to this game as a reference for comparison would be Elden Ring and Green Hell, just with a Fable/Elder Scrolls fantasy style. Magic is also available, but to obtain it, you must sacrifice your max health and stamina which you can not recover. There are ways to increase your max health and stamina and recoup what you lose gaining magic, but that could take a while and is pretty costly.

The only issue I have with the controls is the combat, feeling like a clunky attempt at Dark Souls or Elden Ring style of fighting, using guard and dodging mechanics to fight, but it never felt quite right like, almost as if the response time was always several frames behind. This sometimes became frustrating, especially when I was strong enough to win, but being used to more responsive controls I ended up dying for no reason. This isn’t always the case – sometimes the enemy was just stronger, and it wasn’t all bad because knowing the fighting was clunky made me use my head more, focusing more on using traps, enhancing potions, and elemental calves on my weapons to win.

Another workaround I found was numbers, and while multiplayer combat could still be difficult at times, it usually ended up being a lot easier. Not only that, I genuinely had more fun playing with someone else, but I do strongly recommend playing with a friend. You can join or have someone join your game, however, I had no luck joining any, and with only text chat available to communicate, it wouldn’t be as fun, at least not on console. Luckily, I had one of our other reviewers join me and it was a lot of fun. You can play it solo, but why bother when you can play with a friend. The best part is you can leave your world open with a password so your friends can stop in one at a time and join you on your adventure. If you are close enough or live with a friend, there is also the split-screen option, not as widely seen on console these days, though I’m not sure how good it would be on PC.

Another thing that I found quite impressive and was highlighted to me by Fletcher, who joined me on a few occasions, was the visuals of this game which were quite impressive. Thinking about it, I feel like I was almost too immersed, and it took him telling me to stop and look up while we were traveling at night to appreciate the beauty that is displayed. There are noticeable rendering issues and places where you can see where sections of the map have been joined, but in the grand view, that is a minimal issue. Equally as impressive was the weather which was ever-changing from summer to winter snowfall, not just in a particular area, but throughout all lands which was a nice touch.

Something that grew on me was the ambient music, which at times didn’t always fit, but I didn’t mind. I loved it. When entering combat, it would switch to something more intense, and the drawbacks of losing a fight make the stakes seem just that much higher.

Speaking of losing, that was an interesting mechanic with a few options that randomly happen. If you do happen to fall in battle, you either end up back in the last city you visited, or at least the closest city to your current location, but otherwise, you are rescued by a mysterious adventurer and left with a note and a potion by a fire. The worst-case scenario is you get captured by the enemy and stripped of your gear. You need to work hard to earn your freedom or fight your way out, and both are difficult to achieve.

The survival part of the game was an absolute delight. I love survival games, and the fact that you can be poisoned, get infections, starve, dehydrate, get fatigued or hypothermia, and even get food poisoning was amazing, and it meant you had to think carefully about what you would take with you when you ventured out. With limited bag space, deciding what was more important to have on you could mean making it through or ending up in one of the loss situations.

This game has me super excited. I really am enjoying it, and as much as I do feel it is amazing, I feel it could still be better. This has probably been the thing I wracked my brain over the most as good and fun as it is, there was always something missing. Something not quite complete. Even now I am having trouble putting my finger on it. It is like every aspect that you could rate this game is only just off a perfect score. Maybe if it had a slightly bigger budget, or if it was backed by another studio or company that could have funded it more, I do not know that could have hurt it. Continuously though, I kept saying to Fletcher that this game, to me, was almost perfect – almost the game I have always wanted.

So, I do hope that if they do plan on doing a sequel, or even a new IP in a similar style, they can improve the flow and pacing of the combat and perhaps have the landscapes connect a little more seamlessly. Please do not take any of this as a negative. This is a brilliant game worthy of so much praise to the point that I think I enjoyed it more than Elden Ring. However, I don’t think I can give it a perfect score as much as I wish I could, but so far this has been my favorite game I’ve played this year.

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The Good

  • The average human concept of an adventurer
  • The survival aspect of an open-world adventure adds to the stakes of the game
  • The freedom available or the quest lines that can be followed and the fact that you don’t necessarily have to follow a single path
  • The ability to gain magic but at a cost to yourself
  • The beautiful visual and entrancing soundtrack helps to fully immerse yourself into the game
  • Use equipment, alchemical potions, traps, and tactics to improve yourself instead of an experience leveling system

The Bad

  • Clunky combat can be annoying but not game-breakin
  • The landscape rendering has some issues but is overshadowed by its beauty
9
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10

Written by: Adam Brasher

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