I started this game over recently, committed to an hour of play time to write a first impressions short with a pic or two, and didn’t stop. In less than two hours I beat the game, I defeated Grigori. I thought to myself, realizing I was about to repair my ship then probably fight this only boss, that maybe my ship isn’t ready? Maybe there would be a last something that requires effort defined by such and such action, or staring at the screen wondering how? Because I’ve read what little there is to read about this game (which I am a little surprised that there is so little), and the chatter leads me to believe there is more to it. So the short version of what I’m about to “publish” is, I’m going to dig into this game, the charm is there, the music engenders a trance-like state of focus and I’m into the controls. Out There Somewhere is just cool enough to see all of.
At the end, this could be Shovel Knight! my inner 12 year old SNES UMK3 wielding graphics starved inner leet’ smashing self cried. But it isn’t Shovel Knight at all, it was never meant to be. Out There Somewhere is an improvement of a formerly free game of the same title, meant to be bite sized, released as a focused piece of code inspired by Super Metroid and Cave Story. It was with this information in the back of my mind that I fired it up again, due to the fact that it stuck in the back of my mind for months like a song I’d heard and couldn’t remember the name of.
The initial gun mechanic is simple enough, quickly made complex by a steady increase in platformer difficulty. Pass-through blocks, the white blocks in the above screenshot teach you that there are elements of the environment that behave beyond what you expect. Later different colored beams of light manipulate the scope of the teleport gun and the game takes on the strong puzzle aspects of games like Braid and of course Super Metroid. A malleable world is believable, and provides a context in which we can apply our experiences of crumbling brick and the smell of green; shit moves when you mess with it. The Guass gun gives us something familiar, but within the constraints of this game gives us an unfamiliar new tool for progression.
There was enough here to make me want to come back and see everything. This game also has me wanting to dig into Mini Boss and pay attention to what they are up to. As simple as this game is, it shows its complexity in its focus of expression and defining new mechanics that could be reiterated for hours. I wondered, as the game closes and the name Out There Somewhere reveals its origins, if space wasn’t left for addition, because the foundation has been laid for something big. Games like this reveal an undercurrent of artists honing their craft. If Out There Somewhere is the improvement of something that initially was the product of hard working artists following the White Rabbit, we have to wonder what focus and experience will unlock for Mini Boss.
Buy this game right now if you are into short adventurous experiences. Like Super Metroid in less than two hours. Maybe keep on the back burner as a break from The Witness.
Do not buy this game if the first sight of it conjures up feelings you hate from the 8-bit past. This game plays and feels like it looks. It is a weird game that works on a few platforming mechanics, styling and appropriately head bobbing beep boop sound track. If that isn’t your thing, steer clear.