Quick Thoughts On: Out There Somewhere
There’s something untraditionally appealing about Out There Somewhere’s insubstantiality. It’s a very brief, straightforward experience, but rather than feeling shallow it uses its brevity to subvert the players expectations in interesting ways. That arcade shooting segment at the start? That’s just a prelude to the platformer that takes up most of the game. That gun you’re carrying? It’s actually for teleporting you around instead of killing enemies. The huge world the game seems to be hinting at? In reality it’s a more classical one direction platformer. Out There Somewhere is full of little touches that seemed designed to throw you off course and surprise you with how things play out. They may come at the cost of making a lasting impression, but I feel like that wasn’t ever its prerogative.
Out There Somewhere also gets away with a lot more than most games could because of how strong its mechanics are, and how intrinsically they’re tied to level designs. The teleporter gun is largely your only tool throughout the game, and each screen is made to perfectly utilize it for platforming and puzzle solving (provided your reflexes are up for it). Eventually I was having to take into account bullet speed, character momentum, and environmental devices in order to navigate effectively. These additions are added quickly, but also scale the difficulty smoothly enough to where I almost didn’t realize how much more involved later levels were because the game had taught me how to play so well.
One could argue that Out There Somewhere is too short or simple or loose, and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. The game often feels as if it’s holding on by a thread and some frustrating moments can be a lot more unpleasant due to how much of the overall game they encompass. But its length and careful scope feel so intentional and considered that I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and enjoy how it played with my expectations. I might not remember it a year or even a month from now, but as a condensed experiment in teleportation and unconventional design I don’t regret the journey.
"Quick Thoughts" is a subset of my normal reviews for smaller games which might not fit into a full review but I still have something to say about.