Long-time readers of this blog may remember that one of the earliest History Lessons posts I wrote was about Outcast. Originally released in 1999, I didn’t play Outcast until shortly before I started this blog (2011, I think), but it was still one of the best games I played that year. In fact, it is one of the best I’ve ever played. It’s a beautiful, wonderful game.
It is, however, getting old. Processor speed issues made it difficult for me to run it, although these have been fixed in the version for sale on GOG. But it also runs in a very low resolution which some graphics cards and monitors no longer support, and the controls feel clunky in comparison to modern games. Fortunately, many of the original developers managed to buy back the IP (that’s “intellectual property“, for those who may not know) for Outcast, and they’re now pitching a full high-definition remake of the game on Kickstarter. They’ve made about a quarter of their goal of $600,000 with 26 days left at the time of writing.
They even quote me in their pitch video! Not from here, but from my user review of Outcast over at GOG. Still, it’s pretty cool. But I’m not just posting this because they quoted me, I’m posting this because I’d quite like this Kickstarter to succeed. The hope is that it will be the first step towards a full-fledged sequel to Outcast. Which is something we all want, even if you don’t know it yet.
The obvious question is, why a remake? Low resolution and outdated controls aside, the original still runs, and it’s still excellent. So why not go straight for a sequel? Well, the team actually have very solid reasoning for this. A full sequel would require a significantly larger budget, and they don’t feel that enough players are familiar with the original game to raise such a sum. But, with a smaller budget they can remake the original game in HD, which should win over more players and generate a larger audience for the eventual sequel.
The team has already proven itself, having created the original (and still excellent) game, and the budgeting seems sensible. There’s a lot of criticism about the so-called “stretch goals” in many Kickstarter projects, where more features are promised if the funding exceeds the original goal, but here they are well-reasoned. The base goal is enough for a full remake of the original game. Stretch goals include an expanded soundtrack, further visual enhancements, and possibly some new environments to be added to the game. That last was the most questionable to me, since the original game already feels complete, but then I learned the proposed location is a place already mentioned (but not playable) in the original game, and makes a lot of sense as a “bonus” area.
I do worry that certain aspects of the remake will still feel dated to modern players. Even with more responsive controls and a better camera, locations will seem small by today’s standards, and their layouts reveal some of the technical limitations of the original game (although these will be updated to some degree in the remake). But Outcast is still an exceptionally-designed, well-written and wonderfully realized game, and that shines through today even in its original form. Players who give the remake a fair chance may find themselves just as infatuated as I was, and all too eager for a true sequel.
Despite all the reasons I gave above, the real reason I contributed to this campaign was to express my gratitude. I never played Outcast back when it was first released because I didn’t have a machine powerful enough to run it. When I played it many years later, I absolutely loved it, and now I have a chance to make up for my missed purchase back in 1999. How could I refuse a chance to give directly to the team who made this wonderful game?
If you are at all intrigued by Outcast, feel free to read my History Lesson post about it, and you can try out the original over at GOG for only $5.99. If you like it, do consider donating to the Kickstarter campaign. We need more games like Outcast.