In my preview of Mi-Clos Studio's Out There, I said that I had figured out the game's resource management system, so I expected to play through the full version merely for the narrative components. Yeah, that didn't happen.
Due to its roguelike elements with one-note solutions, Out There became quite a frustrating gaming experience that I couldn't finish.
First off, the game still has a sci-fi feel to it. On a mission to Ganymede, you awake from cryonics to discover you're lost in space. After receiving a bizarre communication from seemingly friendly aliens, you embark on a journey towards an unknown planet in hopes of returning to Earth.
This journey requires visiting new star systems, and harvesting elements. H (hydrogen) and He (helium) serve as fuel. Fe (iron) can repair the ship's hull and equipment if anything breaks down, and O (oxygen) feeds the life support system. Other elements, such as Si (silicon) and Au (gold), are used for ship upgrades and repairing those upgrades. One very powerful element, called Omega, can fix anything. Managing your resources is easy enough. Just drag and drop.
Out There's galaxy is teeming with life. There are a lot of aliens to talk, and trade elements with. They have their own language you can decipher. Sometimes, the reward for successful alien interaction is new technology. Most of these alien encounters are nice, little diversions when compared to the ever-present, constant, and dire need to harvest elements.
In Out There, all ship operations run on elements. Traveling star-to-star, orbiting planets, landing on planets, and even harvesting elements requires elements. Often, it seems like there is never enough supply to meet demand.
Random in-game events occur that can ease the pressure to always harvest elements. There are alien space stations that will replenish either the hull, oxygen supply, or fuel tanks. Collecting oxygen-rich asteroids or fuel tanks floating in space helps as well. There's even a major windfall event in which you can take over an abandoned ship outfitted with new alien technology and a bigger cargo hold. All these in-game events are delivered via text and menu options rather than in real-time. Unfortunately, not all of the in-game events are helpful.
In thoroughly roguelike fashion, far more terrible, crippling, random events occur. These include, but are not limited to: exploding engines, asteroids shredding the hull, traps, equipment failure, accidental injury while repairing things, getting lost, flying off course, laser beams that make you forget how to rebuild your technology, black holes, alien attacks, hungry parasites, solar systems with few resources, alien battles, and so much more. With the such a wide variety problem, it's too bad there aren't a myriad of ways to resolve them.
During my time with Out There, I often felt frustrated because the only way I could address any negative event was by repairing and harvesting elements. Engine broke? Repair, and harvest more elements. Parasites eating my ship? Repair, and harvest more elements. In a battle with an alien armada? Wait until it's over, repair, and harvest more elements. With all the unique problems, I found myself wishing for new solutions outside of merely repairing my ship, and harvesting elements.
Mis-Clos Studio's roguelike resource management game, Out There, can be frustrating when ship repair, and resource harvesting are the sole ways to manage such a rich, but dangerous galaxy.