Out There featured

Saturday Spotlight: Out There

Out There is one of the few games for which I have ever requested a press or early access copy via Arcadian Rhythms. I also had to borrow an iPad and use the ghastly TestFlight utility to install it. That I’ve gone to such measures to get hold of an early alpha-based demo of the game – its release coinciding with GamesCom – should speak volumes.

It’s the second project from one-man game development studio Mi-Clos (Michael Peiffert of Lyons, France) with support from interactive fiction writer FibreTigre. The game has been billed as “a dark and melancholic adventure in deep space”, which is primarily driven via text and multiple-choice decision making. There are also some inventory management, scavenging and crafting mechanics – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Out There 01

As you can see from the above screenshot, the game’s not a million miles away from FTL in terms of its presentation. And while I’m a little shocked to discover that I never wrote about FTL, I distinctly remember singing its praises on one of our many podcasts, so hopefully my warm and fuzzy feelings toward that game are abundantly clear.

Yet Out There is emphatically unlike FTL. Both games see you guiding a single starship through unknown space toward an ultimate destination, but where FTL saw your pursued by a hostile fleet of warships and regularly engaging in combat manoeuvres, Out There is more pacifistic in attitude. There are threats and challenges in the distant sector of space to which the hapless astronaut you play has been flung, without question, but they are altogether more focused on exploring unpredictable mysteries and ensuring your ship has the raw materials and equipment it needs to survive its ongoing travels.

Each time you leap into a system – and at present although the starmap isn’t randomly generated the contents of star systems are – there’s a chance you’ll run into an event.

Out There 03

From my time spent with Out There so far I’ve seen at least one event crop up twice, which I mention not as a flaw – I am sure more events and content will be added and translated as development continues – but because each time the outcome differed substantially. These events add enticing notes of genuine exploration and discovery to the otherwise simple mechanics of exploiting planets for minerals or gases your ship needs to maintain and fuel itself.

I’ve also run into alien cultures, or alien culture; as the demo cuts off after a timer I’ve not played far enough to really tease out this aspect of the game. Alien languages must be translated and it’s not yet clear whether this rests on continued exposure to their language or a new technology you may chance across, but it is clear that superior communication is intended to open up more options to the player. The only technology I’ve run into so far is a shield module, which I’m a little puzzled about as the game doesn’t seem to be set up to allow combat – I can’t say where that may lead.

In truth I won’t strongly object if combat is added to the game; it’s a common enough theme of space opera. But it’s pleasant to encounter a science fiction space exploration game that suggests it will not draw on laser wars and photon torpedoes to generate drama and expedite its narrative. If I’ve concerns about what Out There might ultimately look like, it’s that its core gameplay may ultimately prove little more than the sequential random number generators of disappointment that powered another iOS release, Galactic Core. Thus far Out There appears to be an altogether more varied and promising venture – but only time will tell what players find, well… in there.





9 responses to “Saturday Spotlight: Out There”

  1. badgercommander Avatar

    Really interesting stuff. I'd play it if it came to XBLIG, but I would probably be the only one.

    I do really wish there were games like this around as I quite like the idea of just exploring rather than shooting and destroying (he writes after having spent 6 hours playing Painkiller: Hell & Damnation).

    1. ShaunCG Avatar

      It's probably quite difficult for developers, especially indies, to come up with the necessary assets (visual & audio) for content that's sufficiently varied to drive this sort of mystery. Out There circumvents that by presenting its mystery moments in the style of choose your own adventure text.

      Flotilla, which in a number of ways is similar to Out There, threw some spice into its mix with flavour text, cool artwork and occasional impacts down the line from earlier player choices, but ultimately every encounter boiled down to a fleet engagement with your opponents drawn from a small pool of ship types. Flotilla had great combat but no substantial mystery or exploration which ultimately disappointed me a bit. So Out There excites me quite a bit.

      And as you say, it's nice to just explore sometimes. Speaking of which, I should go back to Proteus…

  2. Simon_Walker Avatar

    This game seems pretty cool. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for this one! Thanks for the info. I find this website very helpful.

    What do you want? I don't know anything about the game, but I want it to be sweet. Space!

    1. ShaunCG Avatar

      It's finally happened. You've snapped.

  3. @FibreTigre Avatar


    This is FibreTigre from the dev team.

    1) In the demo game you played there's less than 25% of the adventures that will feature in the final game.

    2) There is not and there won't be any space combat in Out There. However, you will take some damage for many reasons : cosmic rays, solar flares, landing on a planet with a thick atmosphere, supernova blasts, gravity waves, just to list the natural objects you will find in space, for space is very hostile by itself. So the building of a shield and its upgrades should come in handy.

    Thanks for the review !


    1. ShaunCG Avatar

      Hey FibreTigre, thanks for stopping by. Appreciate the reassurance on those two points, and good luck with the game's continued development. Looking forward to the release!

  4. guillaumeodinduval Avatar

    The thumbnail for this article made me think of NASEghasts.

    Well, more accurately, of this image in particular: http://beanjamish.deviantart.com/art/Nasaghast-20

    Must have been the color palette, and that guy's expression… looking like he's about to turn into a NASAghast. If you have a chance, and if you haven't already (and have a lot of spare time [and kinda are into that stuff, the comic isn't for everyone, really]), sink into The Adventures of Dr. McNinja!

    It's like Deadpool and Batman as one more-or-less super hero.

    About Out There though, it seems to be an interesting ''ISS Commander'' simulator! From the few interviews I've seen of Col. Chris Hadfield, and the couple anecdotes about how things ''tended to be on the verge of going horribly wrong on a daily basis'' up there, it sounds like Out There could be the closest thing to what it might be to command an International Space Station… of the future!*

    *ya know, one going around planets and whatnot.

    1. ShaunCG Avatar

      I'm a big fan of Dr. McNinja! Discovered it and read through all the archives about three years back. Tremendously amusing comic.

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