An attractive 2d puzzle game with a futuristic feel. Out of the Line delivers on aesthetics and atmosphere but could prove to be a little too easy for puzzle enthusiasts.
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
Developer: Nerd Monkeys
Publisher: Hatinh Interactive
Release date: 23 June, 2021
Out of Line is a hand drawn 2D puzzle platformer set in the confines of a regimented factory run by tyrannical machinery called Claws.
The protagonist of the story is San, who is trying to escape from the factory and aid his fellow workers in their escape too.
Avoiding the lethal glare of the claws and manipulating lifts, platforms and environmental hazards, San must engineer an escape aided by the use of his javelin.
Once outside, San discovers a new world with new dangers and encounters some allies to help him on his quest.
The main tool that San uses is his javelin.
An arc appears showing you where the javelin is going to land. It can be thrown into various materials and used as a jumping aid to reach higher ground. The javelin can be recalled at any time and travel back to you wherever you are.
The javelin can also be thrown into the cogs of machinery to stop doors closing or mighty pillars from crushing you. Often, there are multiple cogs to sabotage, meaning you have to be quick with your recall and then throw again.
The javelin can also be inserted into switches creating a handle for you to push or pull. Pushing or pulling can determine the movement of platforms.
Pieces of rope can be tied to the javelin, which when fired, will create rope bridges for San to cross.
The javelin can be thrown at vines which are keeping boulders in place. When the vine is cut, the boulder will be released and swing towards a button which opens a door or similar. These are often on timed levels where you are travelling upwards and need to clear the area above you to proceed.
Occasionally, there are levels with temporary javelins. These javelins are only affective for a small amount of time and then will explode. Once they disappear, they can be used again at their collection points. Usually, the temporary javelins have to be placed and then you can use your main javelin to perform tasks before the temporary one expires.
During the game you will meet several characters who will aid you in your escape. You never control the other character but you do need to work together to complete tasks. Clearing their path of obstacles or pulling bridges across for them, for example, will allow them to repay the favour and clear your path too. The characters you meet often have different abilities to yourself so you need to take that into account when problem solving.
For example, some of the enemies have been converted by The Claw to mindlessly work for them and attack intruders. One certain character has the ability to tame the enemy and make them work for San aiding him in puzzle solutions.
You will only work with one character at a time but these moments are fleeting as most of the time you will be on your own.
Sometimes you will need to advance but tread carefully under the noses of the Claw. They have a detection area which can change rapidly and if you are detected they will kill you immediately. During these stealth missions you will also have to perform other tasks whilst hiding away from their glare.
There are also segments where light plays a part in keeping you safe. Enemies and allies are afraid of bright light due to the dark environments they frequent. San can push and pull lights if available creating a path for escape.
Run for your life
Certain sections require you to run as fast as you can away from The Claw or other dangerous creatures. These include typical runner ingredients, performing puzzle elements whilst trying not to be caught. Fast thinking and fast actions are required to allude the prey.
During your escape run you will find blue orbs strategically placed for you to collect. They don’t give you any special powers and are only here for achievements and an extra challenge. Once collected they are placed on to a tree at the end of the level.
The game will take you between four and five hours to complete but may require subsequent playthroughs if you want to collect all the orbs. There is no chapter select after the game completes.
Beautiful hand drawn art make for interesting and unusual backgrounds as San travels on his journey. There are different biomes to discover from the industrial factory stage to the more open feel of outside. Even though the artwork makes things look similar, there is enough variety to distinguish between levels and keep things fresh.
The puzzles look quite basic in their appearance and mostly just function as puzzles, without the bells and whistles, but they fit into the environment well.
The characters look detailed and have their own personalities, especially when they show emotion or perform an act of kindness or heroism.
There is no text or dialogue during the game.
There are some nice ambient and futuristic musical undertones to the game. I wouldn’t describe it as a soundtrack but more of a mood enhancer.
I loved it, and it succeeded in creating a relaxing atmosphere during puzzle and walking elements, and injected drama when needed during dangerous moments.
There is no narrator or any kind of voice acting in this game.
Out of Line looks gorgeous with its hand drawn art and unusual backgrounds.
It has a futuristic dystopian atmosphere depicting scenes of slavery and injustice within the factory. The music is quite ominous and threatening, heightening the feeling of danger and desperation whilst trying to flee your prisoners. The graphics enhance the gloomy and claustrophobic feel and although never explained, it is obvious why San is trying to escape.
The game isn’t generous with its explanations. Your origins are never discussed. There is no voice acting or text. You seem to look the same as everyone else but we can only assume why. Out of Line is a game relying on your interpretation. The only clues we receive are hand drawn paintings on walls depicting events and they’re very basic and just seem to mirror your abilities rather than offer any clear picture of what is happening. It’s not a narrative game with a defined story, but more of a puzzle game with a loose tale joining scenes together.
Once we are out of the factory, environments look brighter and more detailed. A stark contrast to the depressing confinements of the factory. There are some nice-looking areas and I really liked the movement of the main character. He looks quite charming with his distinctive run. Even though there is no voice acting or text, his mannerisms can create emotion, and the game does this very well. Often, we see San expressing his feelings through body movements, and the soundtrack is an excellent accompaniment to this. They help to make the game more than just a run of the mill puzzle title.
The puzzles are reasonably varied. San uses his javelin to perform a variety of tasks. The aiming mechanic is functionable. Sometimes, I felt that the arc was difficult to control if you were trying to be precise. I think a mouse and keyboard would probably be easier but these moments are rare.
The co-operative scenes were enjoyable. The characters you help are colourful and charismatic and add extra drama and interest into the game. Story elements are revealed during these junctures and it is here that we see most of the poignant moments.
The stealth sections are incredibly easy. I think I completed these on the first try on most occasions. The runner sections are also relatively painless and will only take you a few tries before you know the strategy and complete them.
The main puzzle areas are much harder, but still not too difficult. I struggled twice with solutions during my playthrough but the rest was quite straight forward.
The switch mechanics proved to be a little annoying, especially when there were timed puzzles. It’s not always obvious which way you have to pull the lever. Sometimes, nothing seems to happen and by the time you try again it is too late. This did cause a few moments of frustration.
Out of Line looks original with its hand drawn artwork. It boasts a good soundtrack depicting a futuristic and dystopian landscape which is atmospheric and interesting.
There isn’t much of a story, mostly leaving things for your interpretation, but the characters are charming and likeable.
The puzzles are nothing new, typically involving manipulation of switches and buttons, but the javelin mechanic is quite neat and the stealth and runner sections offer a rest bite.
Although charming and aesthetically pleasing, the puzzles won’t challenge most puzzle enthusiasts, and the narrative won’t appease story lovers. I still had a lot of fun with the game though and could easily recommend it if you’re not after too much of a challenge.