You awaken from cryogenic sleep on your journey from the moon to Jupiter only to discover that you’re not in our solar system anymore. You’ve traveled “Out There.” Its now up to you to explore a new galaxy and find your way back home. Out There: Omega Edition boils down to a combatless, inventory management game in a beautiful space setting with randomized solar systems and events. For your survival, you need to manage your cargo while maintaining fuel, oxygen and hull to stay alive. Its an easy and relaxing game to play, relying on mostly button presses with your mouse or touch pad. Death is permanent, but since the game is randomized, you’ll have a personal story to tell each time you play.
While exploring this strange new galaxy, you’ll find abandon space ships that you can take as your own. You’ll be required to take a look at your ship in order to manage your inventory with ship components and your cargo. To refuel, repair and oxygenate your spaceship you’ll need to click and drag minerals from your cargo and drag them to the maintenance. Its just that simple. Each ship has different requirements for its hull and fuel. Most require helium or hydrogen for the fuel and iron for the hull. Helium will refuel the ship faster. The inventory is a grid and you can click an empty square on the grid to craft additional components from schematics that you’ll find scattered throughout the galaxy. Components can also be dismantled for their minerals which is helpful when you abandon your ship for another one.
Minerals stack up to twenty per square. Its odd in a way that twenty hydrogen takes up the same space as twenty platinum or iron. You have no weight limit either. Just a grid limit. Different ships have different grids. Smaller ships have less of a grid, but consume less fuel. I found smaller ships to survive far longer than larger ones strictly for their fuel consumption.
On your way, you’ll encounter anomalies that will send you on quests, none of which I’ve seen through to the end, even after six hours of playing. They’re always at the furthest reaches of the galaxy, like your ultimate goal. You’ll also meet aliens in picture form and learn words to their unique language.
While the solar systems get randomized or “rogue-like,” the map of the galaxy isn’t. Its the same galaxy time and time again. You’ll encounter the same blue giants, red, yellow and white dwarves, black holes and super novas every time you play. Your ship has a radius that it can travel and if a system is in the radius you can travel there at the cost of fuel and oxygen.
Each solar system can consist of random rock planets, gas giants, anomalies, garden planets and a star (or black hole). Even when you’re in these solar systems you need to spend a set amount of fuel and oxygen to orbit and visit the locations. Everything amounts to a beautiful background scene with your ship over it. Again, its nothing fancy, but it does do a good job of a space ambiance.You’ll never know what’s in a solar system until you visit. Nor will your ship remember what was in a solar system. There is of course a ship component to analyze solar systems.
Gas giants are the most important, they’re how you’ll get precious fuel. Even visiting them will damage your hull. To get the fuel, you send out a probe and you’re given a choice how big of a probe. The larger the probe, the more fuel you’ll get. Always spend the maximum amount of fuel on a probe. Otherwise it will never return with enough fuel. Ever. The larger the probe, the easier it is to return damaged or get destroyed. You can easily repair anything broken with iron that you have on board. Even if a probe gets destroyed, you can recover its components and use iron to make a new one. Its a small price to pay to have more than enough fuel on board. Its a constant struggle in the game. You can probe over and over, but the yield will be half of your last attempt, making it ineffective.
Rock planets are how you obtain iron and other resources, but nothing feels as important as iron. To get the minerals you’ll have to orbit the planet, then land. When you’re done you’ll have to take off and all these procedures cost fuel and oxygen. Again, this is an inventory management game. When you’re on the planet, you need to drill much like probing. Always use the largest drill to get the most yield.
Garden planets are the most interesting. You can land on them to instantly replenish your oxygen, drill for different types of minerals, but more importantly, there’s life here. You can speak with inhabitants and while they don’t speak your language, you’ll learn a word or two from them; even give them things or receive schematics or the Omega from them. This Omega is special and can be used to repair things amongst other interesting things further in the game. The garden planets have different minerals that are used for components most of the time.
In terms of components, some of them feel useless, but there are others like shield generators and wormhole generators that feel more useful. You can improve fuel efficiency and other things all through components. The only down side is some components require others, so that’s two slots from your cargo used.
When drilling or probing, you’re forced to take or abandon things without having the ability to use my maintenance to fuel or repair your ship. It seems only logical that I deliver hydrogen straight from the probe to my maintenance, but instead I need to jettison something from a full cargo hold.
In terms of anomalies, those are abandon ships, quests or cubes. The cubes will replenish one specific thing whether its fuel, oxygen or your hull. They’re very helpful and give you a reason to always live dangerously with low fuel, oxygen or hull hoping to find a cube. Visiting stars themselves will heavily damage your ship and it doesn’t seem like there’s a use for them unless you get a ship component that lets you fly through a black hole or harvest the power of a white dwarf or something. Other anomalies will wormhole your ship to a different solar system.
When you get to each solar system, sometimes there’s a random event will play out through text. Sometimes you’re given a choice. Things like you’re being attacked, do you hide or flee. Again, there is no combat, so your choice determines does your hull get damaged or do you expend extra fuel escaping? The game recaps what you’ve gained or lost. With everything playing out via text and the fact that you travel from one star to the next, Out There can feel like a single player board.
The game is beautiful, vivid, colorful backdrops of space, planets and other celestial bodies. It feels spacy with great ambient music and that’s all you really need for any space game. Just give a feeling of isolation and gorgeous backdrops. Its a place you can sink a lot of time into.
Depending how far you get, the game will shake things up a bit with hostile aliens that will conquer planets. You won’t be able to visit these planets, making a tough game even harder with no difficulty settings.
Now for the major problem that I had, your ship has a radius that you can only jump so far in. About 30 minutes into each play through, I’d come across dead end after dead end. The galactic map never changes, so you can remember your route and where not to go. You need to start relying on random luck to find schematics for worm hole generators or anomalies that will randomly teleport you to places. This makes the game feel unbeatable unless you have luck. Back tracking seems like a brutal death sentence.
For anyone that can get into the game, its a good, relaxing time sink that will keep you playing again and again. There’s so much here, but unless you can find a new ship or efficiently manage your fuel, you’ll be doomed. That still won’t stop you from continuing to explore the outermost galaxies of Out There. I’d like to thank Delphine and Plug In Digital for my copy the game.