Outer Wilds Review - Is This Game Good or Bad

Outer Wilds, Space exploration, puzzle, adventure, review.
Take a seat by the warmth of the campfire, roast a marshmallow and take it all in

About Outer Wilds

I have put in over 20 hours in Outer Wilds, explored all of its planets thoroughly, and gotten the “True Ending” while filling out the ship log. I have also completed its DLC “Echoes of the Eye'' fully. I will be reviewing the game fairly and taking into account its price point, what it succeeds at, and where it falls short.

Outer Wilds is a first-person, space adventure puzzle game that takes the players around a vast solar system. The game focuses heavily on letting the player figure out its many secrets and mysteries by themselves, all while being stuck in a never-ending time loop. The player will explore various planets and uncover the secrets left behind by an ancient civilization known as the "Nomai". Outer Wilds is completely combat-free and does not have conventional progression systems. Instead, the game is purely knowledge-based. The more you explore and discover, the more information you get in order to access other areas and planets.

Outer Wilds was released on May 28th, 2019, on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch for $24.99. It originally started as a Master’s Thesis by Alex Beachum that eventually became a commercial release. The game was developed by Mobius Digital and published by Annapurna Interactive.

When the crowdfunding platform ‘Fig’ launched in 2015, Outer Wilds was the first title that it promoted. The team of nine raised up to $126,000, which gave them enough to work on the game for around nine months. The game was released to critical acclaim, though it did not start to gain popularity until later, through word of mouth.

Outer Wilds Story

Outer Wilds Reveal Trailer

The player steps into the shoes of an alien astronaut, who is just about to go on his first solo mission to outer space. In the beginning, you are given a ‘signal scope to help you identify important places, and you make a quick visit to the observatory. You are suddenly ‘paired’ with a ‘Nomai’ statue that will place you in a 22-minute time loop. 

From here on, you are free to explore the different planets and uncover the mysteries of the ancient civilization known as the ‘Nomai’. And hopefully, figure out why the sun keeps exploding, why you are stuck in a time loop, what's up with these planets, and exactly what the Nomai found that is so important.  

Outer Wilds excels in its unique way of telling a fascinating story. The game sets up an interesting mystery from the get-go and leaves the rest to the player to discover its many pieces one by one until it all comes together in the end. The great thing about this game’s narrative is how non-linear it is. Since the player is free to traverse any planet in whatever order they wish, each player will discover the different plot points in a different order. It’s remarkable how this game manages to tell a cohesive, interesting story, while also spreading its pieces out. The biggest takeaway from the way it tells its story is how much it respects the players without holding their hand.

To keep the player from getting too lost, you are able to view a ‘diary’ on your ship that gives each new discovery a slight context and hints at how it connects to the overall plot. This is a stroke of genius from the game, as this allows the player to truly step into the character’s shoes. You are excited to find new information as the player, as well as the character. 

You will come across some friendly faces on your journey. Sit down, roast a marshmallow and listen to their tunes.

Of course, in order for the story to truly work, the actual ‘meat’ of it has to be interesting. Thankfully, Outer Wilds excels in this department as well. Even though you don’t meet many NPCs on your journey, you are able to translate old Nomai scriptures (which works as a sort of ‘audio logs’). 

The writing of these ancient characters is excellent, and you really feel a connection with a lot of them even though you never meet them in person. The fact that so much of the story is told through writing and it never gets boring or tedious, speaks volumes about its quality. You are excited about every new piece of the puzzle you find, and I’m sure every player will test their imagination with various theories on where the story is headed.

Stories that are reliant on mystery often fall short of delivering a satisfying conclusion. Outer Wilds doesn’t fall into this trap. Once you wrap this game’s narrative, it will leave you in awe of its beauty, revelations.

Outer Wilds Gameplay

Showcase of uninterrupted gameplay 

Mechanically speaking, Outer Wilds’ gameplay is pretty basic. You have access to every ‘ability from the start. Flying the spaceship takes some getting used to, and you will definitely crash into planets on your first couple of tries, but that’s part of the learning curve. Aside from crashing your spaceship, you will spend the majority of the gameplay walking around and using your translator, signalscope, and scout launcher to interact with different areas of the game. All of these work perfectly and help to enhance your engagement in the story.

Each planet offers a new mechanic/gimmick that is unique to that planet. For example, on the planet Giants Deep, there are many cyclones that move around the map, causing different areas to flood or get taken out completely. As the player, you have to time which areas you visit first before they become inaccessible, and perhaps use the cyclones to reach new areas.

This sort of creative variety is true for all planets. This keeps the game from becoming repetitive, despite its simple and limited mechanics. If you find yourself stuck on one planet, you can always travel to another one and face new types of puzzles and challenges there. The puzzles mostly involve translating certain text, moving objects around, shining your light on something or platforming. The game also introduces some very interesting puzzles later on in the game that we won’t spoil here.

You will be dodging incoming cyclones as you make your way through Giant's Deep

One aspect that I feel can be improved is its ‘survival’ mechanics. The game sets itself up almost as if you’re going to need to be very careful with your oxygen tank and fuel levels. However, these never become a big part of the game, mostly because the time loops are so short. This leaves some aspects feeling underdeveloped, but overall I am glad they didn’t get in the way of exploring. As I said, the spaceship controls can take some time to get used to and may feel tedious at first. However, after a few loops, it becomes second nature and you’ll be landing on planets within the first couple of minutes of each loop.

Outer Wilds Combat

Outer Wilds shows that a game doesn’t need a combat system in order to keep the player engaged.There is pretty much zero combat, but there are sections where, let’s say, you face an opposing foe. I won’t go into too much detail as discovering moments like this by yourself is what makes the game special (be wary of Dark Bramble).

What’s interesting is that early versions of this game showed a combat system. It seemed like it was planned to be a big part of the game as well. Overall, I feel this game is better for the lack of combat, as it wouldn’t have fit in with its light-hearted atmosphere.

Outer Wilds Quest/Mission System

As I pointed out before, the game has no ‘quests.’. You are given one task in the beginning: ‘Go out to space and explore to your heart's content’. The way Outer Wilds helps to direct its players is through its ship log. Think of this as, like a storyboard, that updates as you explore. They are vague enough to not ruin the experience but also hints at the player on where they may need to explore a little more. If you feel lost, go to your ship log, see where there is a ‘question mark’ and you can mark it on your map.

This system really gives you that ‘adventure’ feeling, like you are always on the verge of a huge revelation. What’s great is that you and the main character have the exact same knowledge, and you can decide which part of the story to pursue based on your interest and the information. In other words, you set your goals and try your best to pursue them. In this game, if there’s a will, there’s away.

Using your signalscope, you can find explorers like yourself chilling by campfires on each planet, playing their unique musical instruments. It’s always recommended to find them the first thing when you go to a new planet, as you can speak to them and they will give you some hints that can be useful. You can also roast marshmallows by the campfire and listen to them play. Good vibes.

The non-linear design of Outer Wilds really lands itself as one of a kind, and some people may find it disorientating. However, those willing to commit will find an adventure like no other. Feeling lost is a big part of the game, and it only makes the discoveries more gratifying.

Outer Wilds Graphics

Coming across buildings like this ensures you are about to discover something new and interesting

Showcase of the graphics

Staying true to its nature, Outer Wilds finds beauty in its simplicity when it comes to the graphics. Visually, it is not up there with some of the biggest showcases gaming has to offer. Instead, it relies on cute, cartoon-like characters, with an emphasis on variety in its environments. It’s got a likable aesthetic with some really smart art direction, that ties in directly with its gameplay and puzzles. 

One thing that can get annoying is the depth of field, especially out in space. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell how far/close certain objects are, which will cause some rage moments. This annoyance is amplified by the fact that the physics works in a way where you will need some time to re-adjust your ship to give it the right direction and speed. Aside from that, the game does drop frames every now and again, especially on Giants Deep, where there is a lot going on visually, but nothing to ruin the experience. For an indie game, I think the graphics do its job in pulling you into its world and setting the atmosphere. 

Outer Wilds Developer

Outer Wilds was developed by Mobius Digital, and it was their first commercial game. It is a small team with passionate developers. They love interacting with their community and release patches consistently. They even released one patch that added a fun little variation to one of the endings. 

They recently released the full DLC “Echoes of the Eye” for $14.99. If you loved the base game, you will love this DLC as well. It adds a completely new mystery to uncover, utilising its mechanics while adding new ones. The DLC is long and large enough to justify its price point, and I can see some people enjoying this more so than the base game.

Outer Wilds Price

Outer Wilds is currently $12.49 on Steam, and $24.99 on consoles (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch). You can find the game at discount on various sales often, and considering its price point, I definitely recommend giving it a try. The game does not include any in-game purchases at all, and once you pay the full price, you get everything in it. The game doesn’t offer any online functions, and there isn’t much replayability. So if you’re looking for a unique, exploration-based single-player game, it’s definitely worth it.



  • A mystery-driven story that will keep you guessing and immersed the whole way through.
  • A unique exploration system that is purely knowledge-based
  • Each planet feels completely different from the last
  • An exhilarating soundtrack that compliments that game super well
  • Feels extremely satisfying to discover secrets
  • Great art direction that sets the tone
  • All aspects (gameplay, visuals, sound, story) all compliment each other super well


  • Some planets can cause the game to dip in performance based on what’s happening on the screen
  • The spaceship controls can feel wonky at first
  • The game can get a bit too obscure in some parts, and may force you to look up some hints online
  • Some annoying platform sections that may force you to replay the loop entirely

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Enchanted since laying eyes on Crash doing a double jump spin, Giorgi has dedicated his life to exploring virtual worlds. Always gaming in the dark for full immersion, he takes his calling seriously
Gamer Since: 1997
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Outer Wilds: Echoes of the, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
Top 3 Favorite Games:Batman: Arkham City, Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine , Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition

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