Yeah… this feels like a choice unpopular opinion. I don’t think every game in this thread needs to be a BAFTA Award Winner, but, I don’t know!! I can’t stop thinking about how little enjoyment I got out of this one, and I don’t think it was because I didn’t “get it” overall. Although there was a lot I didn’t “get.”
My cousin bugged me to play this for ages, I really only played it about a month ago, and they had played it much closer to launch. So my expectations were heightened. Usually my cousin and I agree. The premise is pretty great, and I’d even say most of the execution of it was solid. I’ve read a good amount of good sci fi so it wasn’t mindblowing to me or anything, but certainly a step above most earnest uses of that genre’s conventions. Once I started, too, I got excited, ‘cause one of my favourite game narratives of all time is Metroid Prime, as told through the Space Pirates’ text logs.
Let’s start with solid criticisms. I think the non-linearity of it and the way it signposted progression and/or gated progress was disorganized to me. I understand how hard that is to design and that many other people probably didn’t have the trouble I did, but it never felt satisfying or engaging to me, at least not for long. I don’t know if I just play these games like a freak or have a bad working memory or what but I found myself finding something, sort of getting what the gist of what I was supposed to do or learn, but then finding out I needed to have gone somewhere or gotten something or learned something or written something down else to have any chance of understanding or interacting with what I found. That happened constantly.
I don’t know, maybe if I was better at intuiting what mechanically the game was signposting for me to do, I would have been able to feel more engaged. But that’s a copout. To me it constantly felt like I was trying to solve a Wii era physics/perspective puzzle at a Red Door. Eventually I’d give up and decide I must need to find the Red Key. Intriguied, I’d find a hint as to where the Red Key is, but then finding out when I get there the Red Key is behind the Blue Door. Still excited, I follow the signposts to the Blue Key, but where I thought the Blue Key was contains the Green Key, and so then I go to find the Green Door. My engagement waning, I find the Purple Key, and when I double back and find the Purple Door, it’s broken, and to fix it it I need to come back at the right time. 17 minutes later after dying and restarting I solve a Wii era physics/perspective puzzle, and when I finally get into the Purple Door… I find out that the Red Key doesn’t even exist, I was just trying to solve the physics/perspective puzzle in the wrong way.
You know what else would make that game better? Some kinda magic crystal that would let you rewind about 15-20 seconds of time.
But… in all honesty… I think most of that is just me being a bonehead and not being all that good at intuiting what games are asking of me and not having a great working memory.
The real, honest reason I think I dislike the game…? I….. I think it’s kind of twee. I don’t even know if Outer Wilds could fairly be considered twee by a sane person, but, I have such a low tolerance for twee, The Outer Wilds feels too twee for me. I remember having a little twinge of haterdom the moment I saw a guy in a big space suit playing a banjo. And I think I just never got over it. fin