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Longtime readers may remember that I quite liked Out There, honoring it as one of the two mobile games I’ve covered on this blog so far (the other being Super Hexagon). At the time, the new fancier Ω Edition was in beta, promising more things to find out in space, some fancy new graphics, and a release on PC, Mac and Linux in addition to mobile devices. Well, the full release happened many months ago, and since I owned the original game I got it for free. I eventually got around to playing it, and now I’m finally getting around to writing about it.
If you are unfamiliar with Out There, you should read my earlier post about it, since the new version is largely the same. The core experience of exploring space, trying to scrape together enough fuel and oxygen to survive, is intact, with the Ω Edition adding to and embellishing proceedings. This is most obvious in the spiffy new graphics. While some of the original hand-drawn art remains, most notably for ships, the new art elsewhere is significantly higher fidelity and no less lovingly crafted. Planet surfaces especially are stunning, and are no longer static backdrops. Wind howls past, waterfalls spill over cliffs in the distance, lava bubbles and flows. When in orbit, planets are rendered as 3D spheres, allowing them to slowly rotate. While they stand out a little as the only texture-mapped objects in the game, the actual textures match the overall visual style well so this is not a jarring as it might have been.
What’s less immediately obvious is that there’s also a whole lot of new music from composer Siddhartha Barnhoorn. The audio design was one of the best parts of the original release and the new music makes it even better, featuring soundscapes to match the new vistas. The expanded and reworked soundtrack is so good that I’m probably going to buy it separately so I can take a chilled out auditory space journey whenever I want.
There’s also a lot of new stuff to find during one’s explorations. When I wrote about the original release I mentioned the excellent log entries that appear after each jump to a new star system. These not only provide excellent flavor to one’s journey, many also present small text-based vignettes with a few choices to make. The Ω Edition has more of these, and I noticed that some of them now provide extra options if I possess the right equipment on my ship. I honestly can’t remember if this feature was already in the original release, but it’s pretty cool, even if it is another overt nod to Out There’s obvious source of inspiration, FTL. And since these new events are mixed in with the originals, it takes a while to see them all, ensuring that new things will pop up from time to time.
There are new ships to find as well, and ships in general are better differentiated. In the original, new ships provided varying amounts of storage space and rates of resource consumption, but now they also use resources in different ways. For example, the starting ship can create fuel from hydrogen or helium, with helium being more efficient. Both are harvested from gas giant planets, so it’s critical to stop by these regularly. But one of the ships I found could not utilize helium for fuel, instead harvesting carbon for this purpose. Gas giants were still useful as hydrogen sources, but more efficient fuel was now found on garden planets, which drastically changed my strategy. Each ship in the new edition has similar quirks to give it more character, and help make every journey memorable.
Perhaps most important for returning players is the addition of an entirely new ending to pursue. This provides an excellent reason to embark on a new set of adventures, and the story leading to the new ending fits nicely with the other three that were already in the game. Successfully achieving this new ending is difficult, naturally, but I hardly minded the repeated attempts I had to make because I was still busy marveling at all the new things to see and hear. As before, most runs ended in failure, but each new attempt took place in a freshly generated galaxy full of secrets to be uncovered. The pacing is fitting too, as I finally managed to reach the satisfying new ending just as it seemed I had seen all the new stuff in the game.
But then there were some further updates released for the game as I was playing it, adding different sized planets, rings for some gas giants, an optional easy difficulty setting with its own leaderboard, and the ability to find spaceships lost on earlier runs. Unfortunately, I never got to find one of my old ships, because I managed to reach the new ending shortly after the update launched. But as I write this I’m tempted to go back. It would be pretty cool to find one of my old wrecks floating around somewhere. Plus, it’s been a while since I saw the other three endings — maybe I should try for those again. And who knows, maybe there are more updates to come?
Even if there aren’t any more updates, Out There Ω Edition is well worth playing. It’s the same tense and lonely journey of survival that it always was, but it’s deeper and more beautiful than ever. If you’ve never played Out There, by all means try the new release, and if you have, it’s worth revisiting to see all the updates. Space is a big place. Maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for out there.