Posted 2 years ago By - Michelle Gonzales
One of the great joys of gaming is discovering a hidden gem amongst the loads of coal released each year. It’s difficult enough for retail titles to find an audience on crowded store shelves, and even more so for downloadable titles where there is endless shelf space and much smaller marketing budget. That’s why games like Outland manages to reinvigorate my passion for gaming as it hits the right notes in so many ways.
Take your classic Metroidvania exploration/platforming formula, then add Ikaruga’s dual color combat technique and Tron Legacy’s bright visuals and you’ll have a reasonable idea of what Outland brings to the table. Instead of a futuristic setting, the game tosses players into more of a tribal fable with a time traveling element thrown in. That may sound overwhelming, but you start with the basics and gameplay becomes more complex as techniques are added to your repertoire.
Your journey begins in a lush jungle as a basic platformer with jumping and blade swinging. As you advance through the five distinct locales, new skills are unlocked that will help you tackle the upcoming challenges. Combat is fluid and major opponents each have a pattern that require mastery. Events crescendo with an epic boss battle at the end of each world. The battles will take practice to learn the attack patterns and these were the only times where dying repeatedly was assured. However, the sense of progression kept the gameplay interesting enough to make me want to forge ahead. That doesn’t include the desire for backtracking with my new found abilities to explore previously inaccessible areas.
Once teleportation is introduced players can easily warp between hubs. Vases with coins litter the landscape and defeated foes burst with gold. The money is used to upgrade your hero’s health and energy vials. Masks of the Gods are hidden off the main path and collecting a certain amount unlocks concept art in the main menu. Cooperative challenges can also be found and these allow you to pair up with a buddy online. Prepare for fun shenanigans as you color swap with your friend simultaneously and you must utilize teamwork to the fullest. The campaign is also online co-op enabled, further adding to the value of the package. Not to mention the Arcade mode, which adds a timed mechanic to the mix.
To reiterate, the graphics are gorgeous with their bright hues. At first enemies are either blue or red and you must switch between the opposite colors to damage them or the same color to absorb their shots. Once you unlock both light/shadow color systems, the screen becomes an explosion of color. Adversaries grow in difficulty and size by shifting colors at regular intervals or combining them so you’ll frantically tap RB to keep in rhythm. It’s simultaneously nerve wracking and rewarding. Ultimately this mechanic defines Outland’s experience and players must master this technique to complete the game.
Housemarque crafted a game that begins slowly with simple gameplay and really ramps up in complexity and difficulty towards the end. The pacing is somewhat uneven and the latter half of Outland throws many new abilities at you that do aid in combat, but are mostly geared towards backtracking. These exploration elements are optional though since the main paths are linear overall. Unlike Metroid or Castlevania - where players venture into uncharted territory - the entire map and its contents are revealed by pressing Back. This removes the sense of mystery from the game, but keeps the story moving at a rapid pace by focusing on the excellent dual combat.
Outland is a fantastic experience that combines classic platforming elements with modern conventions. The art style and graphics pop off the screen and immerse the player in the marvelously painted world. Combat is defined by its polar color system and refined with tight controls. All of these elements combine into a masterful game that grasps players from the start and doesn’t let go until the final battle.
+ Classic platforming mixed with unique elements to keep gameplay fresh
+ Great value for $10
- Uneven pacing
6 days ago :: Injustice: Gods Among Us
1 week ago :: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14
1 week ago :: BioShock Infinite
4 weeks ago :: Gears of War Judgment
1 month ago :: (Kinect) The Hip Hop Dance Experience
1 month ago :: Tomb Raider
1 month ago :: Crysis 3
2 months ago :: DmC Devil May Cry
2 months ago :: (XBLA) Serious Sam Double D XXL
Download us here!
Game Junkies podcast and audio interviews
Release Date : 2011/04/28
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Housemarque
Category : Action-Adventure
ESRB : E10+
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10