I’ll take clunky and interesting over smooth and dull any day (there are exceptions, of course: a smooth and dull gall bladder surgery would be nicer). I discovered Outer Wilds on a stroll though the Reddits earlier on today. It’s a space adventure game where the goal is to explore the solar system before the sun explodes. That timer reduces each game to about 20 minutes space wandering, but it also accelerates the motion of the system. Looking from the of the little planetoids out into space is like looking at the roof of a planetarium, watching as the sky speeds past.
On the first playthrough you’ll have to wander around the village and learn how to control the spaceship and your zero-g suit, before acquiring launch codes. There seems to be no save state, so each time you start you’ll still have to acquire the launch codes. It’s as annoying as having the craft’s y-axis bound to a joypad button, which makes no-sense whatsoever. Even with a joypad, the controls are a bit confusing.
But the strange control scheme doesn’t take away from the seamless space adventuring. All you really need is your curiosity, and it’s a wonderful feeling to have that sense of adventure confirmed by the game. I flew towards what I believed to be a space station, but what turned out to be twin planets with a roaring column of dust filling the void between the two. The rest can be discovered via the game’s map, and combining that with the auto-pilot is an easy way to see what this strange corner of the universe has to offer. This trailer has a pile of spoilers for a short game, it’ll also make you want to play it.
It’s an immensely charming experience. The download is here.