If I learned anything playing Out There, it’s that deep space is a dangerous place. I end up dying every time I visit. Sometimes I run out of oxygen. Sometimes I explode in a shower of metal and blooms of fire. But it's being stranded that's the worst--stuck in a star system watching my fuel tanks empty as I desperately search for a way to escape my own, inevitable end. Space is a dangerous place. The sheer hopelessness of it all is enough to inspire melancholy in the sturdiest gamer... and that’s why Out There so much fun.
Out There’s central story is about as simple it gets: you are stranded somewhere in deep space (‘Out There', get it?) and you want to get home. But as with most roguelike-influenced games, Out There is less interested in your destination as it is in the steps that will take you there. Fortunately, the journey is pretty awesome. Nearly every time you visit a new system, you find a brief text splash telling you of some event that happened and how it will affect your journey. There are plenty of different scenarios, so you won’t find repeats very often. In the 30 or 40 games of Out There I’ve played I’ve learned alien languages, traversed a black hole, and unleashed an evil glowing space jellyfish on an unsuspecting universe. Just an average Sunday night, right?
That kind of fun doesn’t come cheap, though. If you want to stay alive, you have to acquire resources to replenish your dwindling stocks of fuel and oxygen, or repair your ship’s battered hull. The chief stats you need to worry about are fuel and hull integrity--you can generally spend one to gain the other, and balancing the two is the Out There’s central mechanic. It's tough to get right, but the system always feels fair. Running low on fuel? You can extract it from a star, but you’d better hope your hull is up to the radiation. Balancing these key resources to ensure you keep moving forward is a smart gameplay loop, well executed.