Out There review: An exceptional sci-fi game with tons of replay value

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5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Out There is a slow-paced, but suspenseful adventure. The mysterious nature of the story, along with juggling resources to stay alive, keeps the game interesting.

The Bad The map view is limited and there is no way to see your actual progress towards Earth.

The Bottom Line Slow-paced sci-fi gameplay, a rich storyline, and a different adventure every time make Out There easy to recommend, even for the price.

$3.99

9.1 Overall
  • Installation and Setup 9.0
  • Features and Support 9.0
  • Interface 8.0
  • Performance 10.0

Out There is a sort of a turn-based space survival game where your job is to stay alive long enough to get back to Earth. What's interesting is that it plays out a bit like the card game Solitaire; even if you do everything right, you're going to need a lot of luck in order to win.

Out There isn't an action game, and you won't take part in big space battles. And no, there's no fire button or twitch-like controls at all. Instead, it's a dark, melancholic sci-fi adventure backed by an equally dark soundtrack, where your only hope of survival is to gather resources as you drift through space and hope you don't run out of gas before the next jump.

This game is also very difficult. I have already played numerous times, and while I've made significant progress in some games, I have yet to reach Earth. This isn't a bad thing, however, because one thing I have found, is that thankfully this game's enjoyment comes from the process of trying to survive, rather than trying to "win."

Great survival storyline
Every game in Out There starts with you waking up from a deep cryonic sleep, alone in your humble spacecraft, and far away from Earth. Your ship is equipped with a few technologies that will help you get the resources you need, but it's your job to jump from star to star, and gather resources from the planets you find.

As you enter each new star system, you'll get a little more of the story from your captain's log. The character you are playing is alone in space, keeping a journal in the hope that one day he'll share his adventure with the world. The log is where you can follow along with what your character comes across and sometimes you'll have to make decisions on how to proceed, so it's best to read them closely.

As you follow the story and gather resources, you'll come across black holes, supernovas, new technologies, abandoned spacecraft you can take over, and alien life. You'll also communicate with aliens and slowly learn their languages. But it's important to remember that everything you do and choices you make are about keeping your ship together, upgrading it, and staying alive as long as you can.

Out There
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When you come across a planet rich in resources, you'll either send out a probe (for gas planets) or land on the surface to drill (for metal-rich planets). Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

How to survive
When your ship has run out of gas, oxygen, or iron, your game is likely to end soon, but fortunately you can get more. There are three primary resources that every ship needs: hydrogen (H) or helium (He) for filling your gas supply; oxygen (O) for the air you breathe; and iron (Fe) for repairing the hull of your ship. Different planets have varying supplies of each element and you'll need to harvest those main resources regularly to survive.

You will quickly be able to discern which planets are likely to have gas and which will have metals just by looking at them. Your ship comes equipped with both a drill (for metals) and a hydrogen probe (for gas) that you'll use to get more of each resource.

What ends up happening is your decisions will revolve around what resource you need most, and then you'll act accordingly to stay afloat. Unfortunately (and this is where the luck part I mentioned earlier comes in), you don't have control over which planets you come across, and if you're almost out of fuel and no gas-rich planets are in sight, your game is going to end.

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