Do you remember Outer Wilds? If you’ve forgotten, that’s understandable – the last time we saw anything concrete about this miniature-scale game of space exploration in a solar system mere minutes from destruction, it was three full years ago.
Between now and then, all we’ve seen was a brief confirmation that the game (which first surfaced as a prototype demo in 2013) was officially in full-time development, followed by a whole lot of radio silence. We were starting to worry if the game hadn’t gotten lost out there, but it’s back on our radars now with a release window and a flashy new trailer.
From the looks of the trailer, the core conceit of Outer Wilds (that the solar system you’re exploring in your rickety little landing craft is trapped in a time-loop) is present and correct, meaning that over the course of many deaths and failures will you gradually piece together the mysteries of these crumbling, miniature worlds, and your knowledge of previous loops will give you access to new areas. It’s all a bit Majora’s Mask, although on a somewhat smaller time-scale.
This doesn’t mean that you should hurry – quite the opposite. When you’ve got infinite loops and infinite lives, there’s always time to sit down at the campfire, listen to some music and roast some marshmallows. It also means that smashing your ship into a million little pieces of wreckage isn’t the problem that it would normally be, but should still be avoided, ideally.
Earlier prototype builds of Outer Wilds were a magical experience, with the game somehow managing to hit a perfect tonal blend of casual no-pressure exploration and building dread. If there’s anything that ’90s sci-fi TV has taught me, it’s that time loop episodes contain near limitless potential for mirth and menace in equal measure.
Outer Wilds will be releasing this year, assuming all goes to plan, and can be wishlisted on Steam if you so desire.