REVIEW: Out There Somewhere

The first time playing through this game will likely take a few hours, depending on if you get stuck on any puzzles or tricky areas. However, as the achievements demonstrate, the entire game can be beaten much faster.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-Player
Genres: Puzzle Platformer
Developer: MiniBoss
Publisher: Senpai Studios
Release date: 14 March, 2016

First Impressions

With this game only costing $1 full price, and with such favorable reviews, I saw no reason not to get Out There Somewhere (OTS) when it showed up in a bundle. It looked like an interesting platformer, and the space theme made me curious how the game would play. I played the game years ago on my laptop, using the keyboard to control it, and though I could beat the game, I knew I wasn’t set up to earn all the achievements. Coming back to it again, this time with a controller, I got all of the achievements and cleaned up the game easily enough. It was fun to play on a better set-up for my preferences, and reminded me why I had put up with a less than ideal control scheme in the first place.

I’m not sure what he’s most shocked by. The alien, the blue lasers, or the pool of lava just underfoot. Somebody should put up a railing.

Gameplay

Upon crash-landing on an unfamiliar world, you’ll seek to get a McGuffin, which will let you fix your ship and get back to familiar territory. You start the game with a teleport gun, which lets you shoot out glowing beacons that will transport you to whichever wall you hit. This will be necessary to get past different obstacles and make tricky jumps.

Alright, now we’re talking. Wait, teleport gun? Aww… that’s no fun.

After a while, you’ll find the Gauss gun, which is just a basic firearm that lets you kill enemies. It takes 2-4 shots to destroy them, but doing so is quite satisfactory, as many platformers with mechanics like this would make you dart around them with no way to attack. You actually will do so at the beginning, but it’s not long before you’re able to fight back. However, though there are enemies, the focus of the game is much more on finding secrets and clever platforming.

Many Puzzle Platformers don’t provide you with a way to kill enemies, so it was nice to have that option here.

Controls

There are only a few moves in OTS. Movement is controlled with the ‘L joystick.’ Firing the teleport gun is done by pressing ‘X,’ while shooting the Gauss gun is done by pressing ‘B.’ Jumping is controlled with ‘A.’ The controls are responsive and work well, though it sometimes feels clunky making the platforming work right, with most of the problem stemming from timing. For instance, when you shoot a wall, you can jump right as you teleport there, but the timing can feel a bit off. Also, in order to make a jump, you have to be standing on ground before you teleport, or else you’ll only fall. It functions correctly and consistently, but as your jumps aren’t that high and you’ll have to fire across the entire screen sometimes, it can be tricky.

You’ll have to get pretty good with the controls, as well as explore your surroundings, to get to this location.

Story

You play as a space cop who is chasing after a nefarious outlaw named Grigori. Starting the game, you’ll be in a shoot-out with them that leads to a mandatory loss, getting shot out of the sky, and crash into a nearby planet. You’ll have to traverse the place on foot in hot pursuit, trying to make sure he doesn’t slip away. There are some optional secret items and routes, and you’ll converse with local denizens, but there’s not much else to the story. You don’t get any background on the situation, any of the characters, or what justice would look like if you captured Grigori.

The ongoing remarks by the protagonist help build up his character and sprinkle small tutorial moments as necessary. Plus, they tend to be quite relatable.

Graphics

The game is made with pixel art, and uses square tiles to build the environment, with most of them being replicated heavily to create the setting. However, there’s enough variety and little touches to change up the visuals and make it look more natural. Because of the suit, the protagonist winds up looking like an alien himself, and I don’t know if that was a clever design choice (humans would be aliens on other worlds) or simply the effect of their design. For a cheap game, the graphics look quite nice.

That looks like something you might want.

Sound Design

As you progress through OTS, different songs will cue up and play. I believe they’re related to certain locations, though I don’t know how the developers broke different regions apart from each other. There’s a decent variety in the tempo and style of the music, which is nice to see in both a short, space-themed game, but also a budget one. The sound effects that play from your two guns are distinct from one another, and make sense for the functions they serve. The default volume settings are loud, but are easy to adjust in the options.

Ancient well? Is that why people built a doorway into this place?

Pros

  • OTS blends platforming with a small amount of puzzle mechanics in a way that’s not too challenging, but adds more than simply jumping around.
  • Enemies don’t prove to be too annoying to deal with. Being able to kill them is a nice benefit as well.

Cons

  • When replaying the game, the captain’s logs that pop up in several of the early areas is really frustrating with how intrusive they are. They do contain tutorial information and character development though.
  • The game ends unsatisfactorily, with a tease that the game will continue in a sequel. However, there’s been no sign of a sequel emerging, and it was released back in 2016.
  • A few jumps prove to be frustrating to pull off consistently, though the game is mostly enjoyable.

Tips

  • If you intend to earn all the achievements, unless you want to do so spoiler free, it’s not worth collecting the optional items during a first or casual playthrough. You’d instead want to consult a guide, know how to acquire them all, and make an attempt where you get all in one run. Earning them all will also require multiple playthroughs.
  • Teleport jumping is something you’ll want to get a handle on earlier than later, as it’s mandatory to beat the game.
  • There are some handy videos showing how to earn the achievements and find the hidden items.

Final Thoughts

OTS takes a while to beat the first couple of times you play it, depending on how much you explore and try to uncover secrets. However, there are alternative ways of traversing the early sections of the game, which uncover secret items and lead to a significant reduction in your time. These will be necessary to earn all the achievements, and is enjoyable to play through since you’re oblivious to it the first time through.

Unfortunately, as you replay OTS, it demonstrates how small and short the game really is, which I don’t think is something you want to highlight in a cheaper game, as it disincentives people getting it. This winds up being a short-coming, but OTS is a good game otherwise. I’d recommend it, in spite of some quirks, just know it’ll only give more playtime through repeated playthroughs, which would likely only matter for achievement hunters.

Written by
Fruit N Doggie
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