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Out There: Oceans of Time sits somewhere between a ruthless rogue-like adventure and a point-and-click visual novel with key decision-making. Unfortunately, we don’t know which one he wants to be. Sometimes you find yourself trying to enjoy the story but ignoring it because the resources aren’t managing themselves.
In Out There: Oceans of Time, you are mostly immersed in the depths of this vast space saga. What passes for a tutorial is actually the prologue with a few text boxes hastily explaining what everything does. It’s a lot to absorb and even more to remember. Unnecessarily complicated resource collection, development, and management systems make it difficult to navigate the core aspects of the game. That’s disappointing because there’s a good story behind it with even more impressive visuals.
The game sees you as space survivors trying to figure out what’s going on as you emerge from deep cryo-stasis. It takes place against the backdrop of a grand evil that literally takes over everything. So you start jumping from your ship to one of countless systems to explore, gather resources, and ultimately complete various objectives. There, you will encounter many text dialogues as the story unfolds. It all sounds relatively simple, but it’s resource management that seems to be Out There: Oceans of Time’s biggest enemy.
To do anything, your ship spends resources. Only in certain places you can restock them. However, it’s rarely clear whether you’ll get what you need, and if you do, whether your gear will last and you’ll have enough. Gathering any one main resource negatively impacts another and so rather than focusing on adventure, you obsessively worry about staying functional. It can get frustrating because one wrong move and it’s game over. There isn’t even a simple backup solution to make this outcome less frustrating.
What’s phenomenal is how vast this game really is. There are so many planets you can land on and explore. This can lead to interactions with the most diverse range of unique alien designs that I can remember. Depending on the quality of these interactions (you have to learn a language along the way that reveals more of what these dialogue choices are with the number you participate in) will determine the success of your trades or resource gathering. You move your team outside along different tile paths where you can interact with things along the way. These can be as simple as collecting items or text choices in a choice format of your own adventure. There are also things that will harm your crew, so healing and effective management is key.
Art and graphics
Large-scale art, Out There: Oceans of Time has some great designs. The ships, and especially the aliens, all feel very fresh in a genre that has some really big heavy hitters when it comes to design aesthetics.
It’s a treat to see so many weird and wonderful designs that make the game world feel very alien. No two aliens feel the same and neither feel like a cookie-cutter model of the genre. In fact, the most generic characters seem to be humans, and for once in a sci-fi medium, that’s nice to see. For example the alien language you have to learn along the way, at first it’s a total guessing game what you say, and I like that there’s no “universal translator” and that humans are not literally everywhere.
Everything from planets and space to animations and cutscenes are beautiful to watch and you can definitely spend a lot of time watching them…provided you have the resources and aren’t too busy worry about it!
Out There: Is Oceans of Time worth playing?
The lack of ability to save when you want, tied to an incredibly complex resource management system, is unforgiving. I can understand why people find Out There: Oceans of Time a game they just can’t fit in with. Try to stick with it, the story is great, the visuals are better, and if you’re lucky enough to have enough resources to fully explore, you won’t regret it. Out There: Oceans of Time is a challenging, story-driven rogue-like adventure and, while it’s not perfect, it’s not a total loss.