From all the games to capitalise on the formula laid out by FTL, Out There was possibly the most spiritually alike. The solo journey through space has finally made its way to the Switch, with a bunch of extra aliens, stories and a fresh new ending.
The basic principle of Out There, which first launched on mobile back in 2014 before getting ported to Steam, is to reach the end. You’re a single human who wakes up from cryostasis, only to discover you’re alone with few resources to survive.
A quick interaction with an alien tablet gives you a possible route home. So you slowly start making your way across the galaxy, picking which supernovas and black holes to avoid, and what planets to land on. It’s a race against the odds: every stop you make costs fuel, sometimes oxygen and parts of your hull. You won’t survive without new technology though, so you need to explore to survive.
Like FTL, surviving in Out There requires a good deal of luck. But since the game has no combat to speak of, it feels a lot fairer.
Out There‘s main hook is the story. You’re searching for a way home, but along the way you’ll encounter other races, other ships, and other goals you can explore. You can only complete one mission every playthrough though, with each one revealing more about the player’s story, the state of the universe, and what happened to humanity.
One such mission, shown above, involves the discovery of an abandoned ship. There’s a bunch of humans in a deep cryonic state, and if the player chooses, they can escort them to a habitable planet far, far away. You’ll still need to make a life seed – which requires a significant amount of resources.
Alternatively, you could leave all the humans there and carry on towards another ending, which is what I did.
At its core, Out There is heavily reliant on RNG. It’s never as brutal as a Tharsis, but you will frequently be thrown into situations with no viable answer.
Take this adorable bug of a ship. It’s super efficient, which is great. But you can’t stockpile any resources just in case: The ship doesn’t come equipped with a drill or hydraulic probe, so you can’t mine extra, and you only get the ship when your existing one falls to pieces.
Out There didn’t actually know what to do: it wouldn’t let me warp to another star, so I couldn’t escape. And I couldn’t land either, because I had to dismantle the reactor to get the resources needed to fix the space folder. And even if I could land, there wasn’t a habitable planet nearby, so there was no chance of getting some Omega resources to magically fix everything for free.
A quick restart fixed things, mind you. You can also get to one of the final endings, only to discover that you don’t have the fuel to make the final jump.
You can get buggered real fast, basically.
It’s that initial phase of Out There that’s the most difficult. After you’ve amassed a couple of technologies, run into a derelict ship, or just had a bit of a lucky run, the game starts to get into a nice flow. And because there’s no combat, the gameplay is fairly chilled. Out There is more of a narrative-driven roguelike, built around the exploration and randomness of FTL without the frustration.
There’s just enough replayability to make it worth a couple of playthroughs at least, and being touchscreen capable makes it a perfect Switch game when you’re without internet (or travelling through black spots). Some of the text doesn’t scale particularly well in handheld mode, but it’s no worse than the original phone version, and it’s not the biggest hindrance to gameplay.
All in all, Out There is still excellent. The Switch version has the most content as well, so it’s not a bad time to check the game out again. You can grab it on the eShop now for just under $20.