Outward was sent to me by the code goblins out the back of PowerUp! because they know I love a deep fantasy setting and adore some Soulsborne combat. The combat isn’t up to the standard of FromSoftware’s rolling simulators but it is certainly enjoyable and held true to the main feature of Soulsborne battle.
If you’re not paying attention you’ll die.
Combat isn’t immediately thrust upon the fledgling adventurer you’re steering, but when the beast rears its ugly head, know that the foe is too great to conquer.
The first taste of battle — ignoring some optional hyenas in the introduction — pits the protagonist against two banditos should he choose to face them. With your low-level gear and poor grip on the combat system, two enemies will be a lot to deal with.
Too much for me it turns out, because they stabbed me good and dead.
However, I didn’t receive a customary game over screen, nor did I respawn at my home or last recorded autosave.
I awoke in the belly of the beast.
Deep in the settlement manned by the very thugs and thieves who had taken a disliking to my jaunty, low-level antics. On top of my disliking, they had stripped me of what little coin I’d mustered and what few treasured belongings I’d assembled in my very short career.
The thugs were undisciplined in their wardenship and had left me unguarded and unbound. I quickly arose, my nerves steeled, and I stole every little piece of shit the brigands hadn’t boarded down. I made great haste to flee the fortress of my imprisonment and enjoyed great success in my daring escape.
The joy lasted about as long as an unattended pint in a pub run dry as I desperately ran into a tripwire-trap that saw me turned to a reverse-hedgehog.
The villainous village offers a great look into the effort spent in worldbuilding in Outward. The game is full of unique areas and instances for the brave and crafty to make their fortunes in the quest for redemption.
A great shadow hangs over the house of our custom hero. A blood price earned by his forbears to be paid by a man born into debt.
The beginning of the game quickly thrusts the price of 150 silver into your hands, lest you lose the lighthouse your family has always called home. Only five days are allowed for the payment to be made so you must gather your wits and your steel and be off!
Will You Survive?
If you follow the instruction of the kinder villagers you’ll easily repay your debt in a day. A curious quest into the heart of the troglodytes’ caverns will quickly get you a collection of loot, worthy of the named price. After that, the story really takes off but I’ll let you have a look at that yourself.
Beyond the strong role-playing elements and engrossing environments, there’s a lot to be enjoyed in Outward. Personally, I enjoyed the voice-acting and crafting. The spoken dialogue is cleverly selected to convey the intent of the bulky text-boxes without subjecting the player to hours of monotone, disinterested script-reading.
The flow of conversation is smooth and the actors do a great job of being emphatic and effective in conveying emotion.
Crafting is just a big ol’ ball of fun. Gather some “tree” and whack down a bonfire. Learn recipes and whip up myriad tasty morsels to keep you vigorous and healthy. It’s all in there.
You better actually be concerned about your physical wellbeing though, diseases and contagion are rife throughout the wild and a merry traveller can quickly lose the wind beneath their wings when they find themselves rife with pox.
You Got The Jack
Usually, a heap of water and rest will fix you up but stop eating raw hyena meat you damn savage, it’s obviously diseased.
What didn’t I like about the game?
Well, the loading screens can be jarring. The world captured my attention but the long wait to get in and out of instances often lost it. I know not every game can be BotW and maybe I’ve been spoilt but I’d be lying if I didn’t say “fuck me, that was a bit of a wait”.
The character creation is very bland too. The options are limited if I’m being polite. There are a couple of good preset faces but there wasn’t much flexibility in the way of a personal touch beyond hair cut and colour. But I’m a glass half full kind of guy so I made It work.
As soon as I get a minute away from my real life business of slaying babes for huge stacks of cash, I’ll be back to shivering in a puddle of my own rancid hyena-meat diarrhoea lickety-split. Outward is the kind of RPG you can get lost in for hours. You can start playing at 5 pm, play for an hour and look at the clock only to see that it’s 6 am the following day.
Outward is a deep, engaging and rewarding survival RPG. If you put in the time and the effort, you’re going to be well rewarded. It’s not a game you can play casually though, so unless you’re looking for a long term commitment, Outward isn’t for you.
It is, however, a great game and one that RPG fans should definitely check out.
Outward was reviewed using a digital code on PS4 provided by the developer.
Game Title: Outward
Purple onion man, not much else to choose - 5/10
Context sensitive RPG elements flying out the wazoo - 9/10
Hyena steaks have 60% of a lethal dose of e.coli. I shouldn't have had seconds - 10/10
Big axe murderin' fantasy satisfied - 9/10