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Outer Wilds


Alex W.
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I remember falling into the black hole many times and getting pissed off. 

 

Then I realised:

 

Spoiler

 

You can warp back. 

You're supposed to go through to get into the broken tower.

It's really really easy and fun to not fall into the black hole by slingshotting around it. You can even use it to get around brittle hollow.

 


Then I never fell into the black hole again unless I wanted to. That's the beauty of Outer Wilds. It didn't give me some Metroidvania black hole avoidance device. It had the balls to let me figure out several things by myself and trusted me to recognise and internalise that knowledge for future runs. Just as the ship computer remembers things between loops, the game is constantly trying to teach you new information to help you hypothesise against puzzles. You can't brute force it exactly - but you do have to experiment and be prepared to die and start over. I found it really frustrating at times too but that didn't impede my enjoyment or respect for the game. I think most of it is by design. There's one puzzle that I found too obtuse, but crowd sourced it from a friend in exchange for a clue about something he was stuck on (neither of us wanted to go googling as it's so nonlinear and easily spoiled).

 

Is it too reductive to say there's a Soulslike element to the way the game uses knowledge as the ultimate power and currency? Probably. It feels like something new.

 

The reddit link provided by Alex seem to be from a guy who didn't know you could boost the jetpack. I can't imagine getting very far in the game without that knowledge.

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It reminds me of the guy who went through Resi 4 without realising there was a run button. I always assumed everyone plays games with the intent to explore what you can do and end up playing with all of the controls usually to find out what you can do without needing to be prompted, but I think some players just can't get into a mindset of experimenting for its own sake without needing to have their hand held through things or given explicit instructions.

 

I do think this is something more deeply psychological, as showing general interest and curiosity in the world around you or for things you don't know or understand does not come naturally to many people. We all have it from birth, but it gradually becomes rusted out of us to a greater or lesser extent.

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Fuck's sake, how do I land on the Quantum Moon?

 

Spoiler

The shuttle log says visitors must approach from the south pole. I assume this is 'under' the planet relative to the solar system's plane. I look for the centre of the swirling clouds and slowly approach in my ship, but it always disappears when I enter the atmosphere. Is it really tricky or am I barking up the wrong tree?

 

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You're missing something else there Pob. I can't reveal it without spoiling it - but there is a key bit of info you'll either already have, or have yet to find that will guarantee your success getting on that moon! If you need any more clues such as where to start looking for the info, just holler.

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7 hours ago, Pob said:

Fuck's sake, how do I land on the Quantum Moon?

 

  Reveal hidden contents

The shuttle log says visitors must approach from the south pole. I assume this is 'under' the planet relative to the solar system's plane. I look for the centre of the swirling clouds and slowly approach in my ship, but it always disappears when I enter the atmosphere. Is it really tricky or am I barking up the wrong tree?

 

 

(Note, I wouldn't click any of those spoilers, figuring out how the quantum stuff works was one of the biggest joys of the game. Pure childlike Zeldaesque bliss when it finally clicked.)

 

A vague clue

 

Spoiler

Everything "quantum" in the game adheres to the same rules.

 

More specific clue

 

Spoiler

The same rules that quantum objects "in real life" adhere to.

 

Even more specific clue

 

Spoiler

Observing the object fixes it in place. Note how they move when you look away.

 

Even more specific clue:

 

Spoiler

There's a way to stop quantum objects from moving when you're not looking at them directly.

 

Even more specific clue:

 

Spoiler

You don't have to rely on your in-game eyes to observe a quantum object.

 

Me telling you where to go to learn how to do it yourself:

 

Spoiler

There's a location on Giant's Deep called the tower of quantum knowledge which should give you some huge clues.

 

Me just telling you how to do it:

 

Spoiler

Last chance
 

Spoiler

You can take a photo of a quantum object to fix it in place. Fire a probe at the moon and keep the probe image onscreen, and you can land on it. It won't move if you look away.

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, Benny said:

I do think this is something more deeply psychological, as showing general interest and curiosity in the world around you or for things you don't know or understand does not come naturally to many people. We all have it from birth, but it gradually becomes rusted out of us to a greater or lesser extent.

 

Aye, I don't want to suggest "if u don't like this game ur stupid" though I'm still wrestling with that notion. It boggles my mind that anyone with any semblance of taste wouldn't like it, though I know that's unfair. Sure it's frustrating at times, but most of the best games are. The sense of reward and discovery on offer far outweigh any frustration (and I got really frustrated at times). The way the story makes sense from the micro to the macro level no matter which order you discover it, the way it totally sticks the landing, the way it makes you feel like a genius space detective and the trust it puts in you to solve its mysteries. The way it swerves the expected story tropes. The way it touches you unexpectedly multiple times.

 

I love a good Uncharted or whatever, but the puzzles on offer in most mainstream games are like early learning centre toys, "fit the different shapes in the different holes" type stuff. They mostly don't inform the wider story, add to the worldbuilding or require any real thought. The closest thing to Outer Wilds is probably The Witness, puzzles inside puzzles designed to build context and meaning, but even then it's pretty different. Where the Witness wilts into pretentious musing, The Outer Wilds crystallises into a well told, emotionally satisfying story set in a fleshed out environment with a logical sequence of events. Outer Wilds is far more straightforward in that respect, but manages to say more about discovery, science and humanity than The Witness did.

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5 hours ago, Alan Stock said:

You're missing something else there Pob. I can't reveal it without spoiling it - but there is a key bit of info you'll either already have, or have yet to find that will guarantee your success getting on that moon! If you need any more clues such as where to start looking for the info, just holler.

 

Thanks @Alan Stock and @Moz - I wasn't sure whether I was having an issue with my technique or whether I was missing something, or whether it's just a puzzle I haven't figured out yet. It sounds like I'm missing something. The only explicit clues I have about the Quantum Moon are:

Spoiler

 

  • Visitors always approach via the south pole (gleaned from the shuttle you recall to the Brittle Hollow gravity cannon)
  • Once you land, make your way to the north pole to find the moon's sixth location (from the Tower of Quantum Knowledge)

I also know that quantum material moves when not observed (obviously), and that if I'm in contact with it and in darkness I can move with it.

 

So I'm not sure if there is another piece of explicit advice along those lines that I've not found yet. The only lead I still have to follow up on is the Black Hole District on Brittle Hollow. I can warp there via Ash Twin, and raise the black hole forge from the Hanging City, but I've not put those two things together yet to see what is revealed. I've not made it into the core of the Interloper yet (don't know how to get past ghost matter barrier), nor do I know how to get to the Sun Station or into the Ash Twin Project. There's also something undiscovered at White Hole Station that doesn't seem to be obvious.

 

 I thought the Tower of Quantum Knowledge would be the final piece of the puzzle (honestly, it took me ages to get in there. In the end I figured I'd just hang around to see what happened and, sure enough, the answer revealed itself. Brilliant moment).

 

I've got some ideas of things to try but to be honest they are just guesses. Maybe I could fire my probe in there before I go in? Maybe it has to be around a certain planet? Maybe I need to try to get there in the alien shuttle? Maybe I need to fly in backwards while flashing my headlights?

 

Do I have everything I need to know to figure it out?

 

 

I've managed to get this far without looking anything up (except for how north/south planetary poles are decided - ha), and I turned off the rumour network before I even started the game, so I m keen to figure it all out myself!

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18 hours ago, Moz said:

I remember falling into the black hole many times and getting pissed off. 

 

Then I realised:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

 

You can warp back. 

You're supposed to go through to get into the broken tower.

It's really really easy and fun to not fall into the black hole by slingshotting around it. You can even use it to get around brittle hollow.

 


Then I never fell into the black hole again unless I wanted to. That's the beauty of Outer Wilds. It didn't give me some Metroidvania black hole avoidance device. It had the balls to let me figure out several things by myself and trusted me to recognise and internalise that knowledge for future runs. Just as the ship computer remembers things between loops, the game is constantly trying to teach you new information to help you hypothesise against puzzles. You can't brute force it exactly - but you do have to experiment and be prepared to die and start over. I found it really frustrating at times too but that didn't impede my enjoyment or respect for the game. I think most of it is by design. There's one puzzle that I found too obtuse, but crowd sourced it from a friend in exchange for a clue about something he was stuck on (neither of us wanted to go googling as it's so nonlinear and easily spoiled).

 

Is it too reductive to say there's a Soulslike element to the way the game uses knowledge as the ultimate power and currency? Probably. It feels like something new.

 

The reddit link provided by Alex seem to be from a guy who didn't know you could boost the jetpack. I can't imagine getting very far in the game without that knowledge.

 

Are you referring to - 

 

 



Going straight to the White Hole station and warping back to Brittle Hollow?

I did that numerous times, and - as I actually explored some of the planet inside the crust - There's a little hole in the lake near the north pole that means you can get straight down, back to the hanging city. 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Moz said:

I love a good Uncharted or whatever, but the puzzles on offer in most mainstream games are like early learning centre toys, "fit the different shapes in the different holes" type stuff. They mostly don't inform the wider story, add to the worldbuilding or require any real thought. The closest thing to Outer Wilds is probably The Witness, puzzles inside puzzles designed to build context and meaning, but even then it's pretty different. Where the Witness wilts into pretentious musing, The Outer Wilds crystallises into a well told, emotionally satisfying story set in a fleshed out environment with a logical sequence of events. Outer Wilds is far more straightforward in that respect, but manages to say more about discovery, science and humanity than The Witness did.

 

Also see, that's a very reductive comment on the puzzles in Uncharted and I do wish sometimes people would have less of a black/white perspective on things. 

The puzzles in Uncharted are there purely to give some variation, palette cleaners and opportunities for vista moments or the opportunity for a story beat etc. They just have to be complex enough to make you feel like you're interacting with some ancient lock and key mechanism and NOT complex enough that it kills the pace that makes these games so "moreish". If they were super complex you would have too hard a clash between them and the action parts. They're totally different games. 

 

I love both Uncharted and Outer Wilds, and yes, it's a lot like The Witness - and totally like Mercenary / Damocles too - but the investigation is the main thing you do in these games, so the design can totally lean into this kind of thing. 

 

We just need more of them. More games like this, and more games like The Witness... so people need to buy them more and play them more so more get made. 

You know, rather than playing it on gamepass for  minutes and lament "why's there no checkpoints or fast travel" missing the point entirely by a huge margin. 

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It's interesting (and somewhat frustrating) to read the "if you don't like it you're just not curious enough" argument. I've spent about ten hours with OW so far and on many occassions I do like it. There is a lot of creativity in it: 

 

Spoiler

melting ice, rising sands, black hole and warps, crumbling bridges depending on how far in the loop you are etc.

 

As some of you have suggested, the time loop seems to be integral to the game. Unfortunately, the game throws so many frustrations (mainly confusing level design and controls) at me that I hardly ever experience the end of a loop. Because I die before. I've died dozens and dozens of times way before a loop is over. So, even after ten hours of playtime the game hasn't managed to make me feel invested in its main system. A loop for me doesn't represent

Spoiler

the consequences of Nomai experiences or so

, but: I die, have to board the ship, have to tediously fly to and land on The Interloper once again - this is my main "loop". And not the one where you explore and read Nomai wall writings and listen to the sad music and know that this adventurous loop with all the new knowledge it unearthed was totally rewarding - as obviously many of you experience. And to me that's a fundamental issue and I'm frustrated the game doesn't provide any sort of convencience feature whatsoever. Such features would do nothing to the sense of danger in OW's world, like someone noted above. But dying for the 20th time trying to reach the Southern Observatory (which in my opinion doesn't have anything to do with knowing whether there is a Jetpack Boost or not) sours the whole loop system for me. And, therefore, a crucial element of the game.

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I think that part of the game design is either a like it or loth it thing. For example I hated in Dead Rising that you are meant to die and restart the game lots until you have levelled up (as that carries through deaths) to a point where you are strong enough. This game in some ways has that vibe to it where you are meant to die lots to move forward.

 

Its fine to not enjoy that part of it, I wouldn’t say it’s not a game for you because of that but it’s certainly understandable to not enjoy that part of the game if you are more keen on just being left alone to explore and just get through the game.

 

In reality much of the game could have worked without the time mechanic. There’s a few puzzles and simulations that are affected by time but generally if time didn’t end you could do a lot of the game in one sitting.

 

I never had much issue with the controls and found it funny where I got overly confidant and smashed into a rock or something. That really added to the game for me having to be aware of my motion compared to something like Mario with its tight controls which allowed you to recover from minor errors.

 

I also disagree with a lot of the other comments here saying you’re not allowed to not enjoy the game. It’s fine to not like this game, it might not be for you or may not have things in it you don’t enjoy. That’s totally fine we all don’t have to like the same things no matter how great you might think that thing is.

 

Maybe this is a bit like Celeste where people love it’s difficulty (it certainly has a similar indie vibe and story you have to unlock) but that game had features for gamers who didn’t want the difficulty. Maybe a rewind function for those who just want to enjoy the story would have been better here too?

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@Pob You already have everything you need to know. Try some stuff!

 

Re: discussion above (Minor general spoilers)

 

The time loop in this game does cause most of the frustration, especially on the puzzles that have a strict time limit, or require waiting near to the end of the loop. Majoras Mask had exactly the same problem where if you messed up a crucial event, wave goodbye to 10 minutes or longer of your life as you restarted the loop and crawled your way back there.

 

A lot of people don't know this but you can wait at bonfires to pass time. I heard they patched this in but honestly it's not much help as the fact isn't advertised anywhere and with no in-game timer for the loop you don't know when exactly you should wake up. 

 

The fear of failure in places like Brittle Hollow ramps up the tension but the consequences are too severe especially for those of us with little gaming time. I feel like more teleporters and a better integrated time skip/fast forward function would have really helped. 

 

For the first half of the game death or making big boo-boos in places like Brittle didn't bother me much. I'd just go and explore somewhere else or have enough time to head back and retry. The second half of the game though it becomes a much bigger issue as you start running out of places to explore or experiment with, and time limited challenges become more prevalent. 

 

One issue with including teleporters and time skips though is that some of my Eureka moments came when I had already failed a loop and was just messing around exploring/observing. You'll notice something you'd missed or go to a place at a different point in the loop to usual. If you could just teleport around or skip time you might never make those necessary connections. So it's a bit of a Catch 22 and something that time loop games have always struggled with. I'm struggling to think of a time loop game I've played where the loop itself hasn't caused some element of frustration.

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I can honestly say I didn't die much at all in this, and 90% of loops ended with the supernova. I did die on occasion of course, but this was usually an avoidable learning experience. I can see how it would be frustrating if you were dying all the time and didn't feel like you were to blame, but I also don't see why this would be the case after the first couple of hours at least. I'm still wondering if Alex has just missed a vital instruction somewhere or something.

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1 hour ago, Alan Stock said:

@Pob You already have everything you need to know. Try some stuff!

 

 

I did it!

Spoiler

 

Once I got past my misunderstanding of the South Pole arrival thing I thought it must be to do with the little scout observing it, and I peeked at @Moz's hint about being to lock a quantum object in place. First time I landed, I fully expected it to disappear and I smashed into the surface real hard!

 

I'm not sure I would've figured it out by myself as it didn't occur to me that the moon was not being observed when I tried to land. I mean, it's filling the fucking frame. I'm observing nothing else!

 

Now I'm stuck again. I can get the entire moon to move to the sixth location by being inside the Quantum Tower and plunging it into darkness, but I don't know how to get the tower itself to move to the north pole with me in it. It seems like you definitely can't get to the north pole by traditional means from any of the moon's terrain variants, so it must be something to do with piggy-backing on the tower as it moves.

 

I will get there! Still need to find what I missed at the Black Hole District...

 

EDIT: Hmm, maybe I need to be in contact with the tower rather than the surface of the moon when I switch the lights out.

 

 

This is some game though. When I fired it up I expected it to be some kind of cute 3D version of Thrust, which I was up for. I didn't expect some Portal-level puzzle/sci-fi work of genius. I'm losing sleep over it.

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3 hours ago, Ketchup said:

In reality much of the game could have worked without the time mechanic. There’s a few puzzles and simulations that are affected by time but generally if time didn’t end you could do a lot of the game in one sitting.

 

Thanks for your post. Yes, I agree and feel the game would have benefited from either no time mechanic at all or a less strict one.

 

Quote

I also disagree with a lot of the other comments here saying you’re not allowed to not enjoy the game. It’s fine to not like this game, it might not be for you or may not have things in it you don’t enjoy. That’s totally fine we all don’t have to like the same things no matter how great you might think that thing is.

 

Absolutely. As dumpster noted in a different thread: this forum is called "discussion" for a reason ;) As I wrote in the Shenmue 3 thread, discussions on Reddit are friendlier and more nuanced even when vastly different views are involved. Maybe we can all achieve that here too. 

 

Quote

 

Maybe this is a bit like Celeste where people love it’s difficulty (it certainly has a similar indie vibe and story you have to unlock) but that game had features for gamers who didn’t want the difficulty. Maybe a rewind function for those who just want to enjoy the story would have been better here too?

 

Yes, actually I have the feeling that OW was designed with a specific players segment in mind. When I think about the 

Spoiler

Sun Station tower where you have to enter through the back at a precise time in order for the cacti to not kill you. I've died  two or three times EVEN THOUGH I went there when the sand was still covering MOST (but not ALL) cacti. Of course the ones that were already out were enough to kill me. 

 

I really ask myself who the devs had in mind. I'm really not sure what this particular in-game "challenge" is adding to the game except player frustration. And that's just one (in that case small) example of my frustrations with the game. 

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35 minutes ago, alex3d said:

 

Thanks for your post. Yes, I agree and feel the game would have benefited from either no time mechanic at all or a less strict one.

 

 

Absolutely. As dumpster noted in a different thread: this forum is called "discussion" for a reason ;) As I wrote in the Shenmue 3 thread, discussions on Reddit are friendlier and more nuanced even when vastly different views are involved. Maybe we can all achieve that here too. 

 

 

Yes, actually I have the feeling that OW was designed with a specific players segment in mind. When I think about the 

  Reveal hidden contents

Sun Station tower where you have to enter through the back at a precise time in order for the cacti to not kill you. I've died  two or three times EVEN THOUGH I went there when the sand was still covering MOST (but not ALL) cacti. Of course the ones that were already out were enough to kill me. 

 

I really ask myself who the devs had in mind. I'm really not sure what this particular in-game "challenge" is adding to the game except player frustration. And that's just one (in that case small) example of my frustrations with the game. 

 



You literally just have to wait for the sand to cover up the Cactus plants, then walk over it. :huh:

If you try to do so before that it will push you back, you just have to wait. 

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1 hour ago, alex3d said:
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Both ways are possible. Waiting reduces the time that you have left to explore the sun station (to get TO the sun station in the first place). 

 


 



What? That’s not even true. You’re at a particular point in the 22 minute cycle when the cactus is covered, then you go to the Sun Station and can literally gather every clue and do everything in ample time. 
it’s almost like that’s why you have to get through the cactus sand tunnel at a very specific point in time. 

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7 hours ago, Kevvy Metal said:

 

Also see, that's a very reductive comment on the puzzles in Uncharted and I do wish sometimes people would have less of a black/white perspective on things. 

The puzzles in Uncharted are there purely to give some variation, palette cleaners and opportunities for vista moments or the opportunity for a story beat etc. They just have to be complex enough to make you feel like you're interacting with some ancient lock and key mechanism and NOT complex enough that it kills the pace that makes these games so "moreish". If they were super complex you would have too hard a clash between them and the action parts. They're totally different games. 

 

I love both Uncharted and Outer Wilds, and yes, it's a lot like The Witness - and totally like Mercenary / Damocles too - but the investigation is the main thing you do in these games, so the design can totally lean into this kind of thing. 

 

We just need more of them. More games like this, and more games like The Witness... so people need to buy them more and play them more so more get made. 

You know, rather than playing it on gamepass for  minutes and lament "why's there no checkpoints or fast travel" missing the point entirely by a huge margin. 


Oh for sure, I wasn’t denigrating Uncharted. They have very different aims. But as they both have puzzles, it’s an interesting comparison. 

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3 hours ago, Kevvy Metal said:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

 

 


What? That’s not even true. You’re at a particular point in the 22 minute cycle when the cactus is covered, then you go to the Sun Station and can literally gather every clue and do everything in ample time. 
it’s almost like that’s why you have to get through the cactus sand tunnel at a very specific point in time. 

 

 

Spoiler

Never mind, I miss understood your post. In fact I think you got it wrong. There are cacti on the side walls, which won't get covered. Also, the sand will flow OUT of the room (thereby unearthing cacti) so you have to be quick and make it to the beam elevator in time. 

 

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Oh my god

Spoiler

I finally fucking figured out how to get to the sixth location. Stepping out of the quantum tower after having my path blocked so many times was one of my most momentous gaming experiences for years. Then I found a live Nomai! Then the sun exploded. 

 

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8 hours ago, alex3d said:

 

Thanks for your post. Yes, I agree and feel the game would have benefited from either no time mechanic at all or a less strict one.

 

 

Absolutely. As dumpster noted in a different thread: this forum is called "discussion" for a reason ;) As I wrote in the Shenmue 3 thread, discussions on Reddit are friendlier and more nuanced even when vastly different views are involved. Maybe we can all achieve that here too. 

 

 

Yes, actually I have the feeling that OW was designed with a specific players segment in mind. When I think about the 

  Hide contents

Sun Station tower where you have to enter through the back at a precise time in order for the cacti to not kill you. I've died  two or three times EVEN THOUGH I went there when the sand was still covering MOST (but not ALL) cacti. Of course the ones that were already out were enough to kill me. 

 

I really ask myself who the devs had in mind. I'm really not sure what this particular in-game "challenge" is adding to the game except player frustration. And that's just one (in that case small) example of my frustrations with the game. 

 

I think, and there's no easy way of saying this so I'll just come out and say it... I think you might just be shit at it? I was the first time I played the opening few hours! I was messing up jumps and not really knowing where to go or what to do and it led to me getting annoyed and jacking it in. On my 2nd, complete playthrough it clicked and I understood a lot better what it was trying to do. I still found plenty of frustration in the game, yeah, but also I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. At times the time loop was frustrating or felt out of place, but there are enough brilliant moments tied directly into the fact the solar system is blowing up and, crucially, evolving, that it's madness to suggest it's just in there for the sake of creating difficulty for the sake of it. 

The whole point of the thing is that you're grabbing at snippets of information and looking back at what you've learned. Forcing you to reset every 22 minutes forces you to get back onto that ship and see that computer again. "Oh, maybe I should double check what I've learned? See how it slots together with everything." Take stock of what you've learned, start again. 

 

Also, it feeds into the fact that you're part of a world with a specific set of rules that change over each cycle in exactly the same way. So if you learn something on one cycle you've learned it on every one. I fully get being frustrated if you mess up a jump, or fall into the black hole, or crash your ship. And yes it's annoying that you sometimes have to wait a few minutes to be in certain places at certain times and can then fully lose that progress and that waiting time. 

But so much of what is so utterly brilliant about this completely unique thing ties into the fact that sand falls in exactly the same way, or a planet crumbles in exactly the same way, or that the stupid fish crash into you from the exact same locations every time. If Outer Wilds was a linear experience they wouldn't be able to do stuff like The Tower of Quantum Knowledge, and yeah that's one puzzle solution out of a lot of puzzles, but nobody solves that puzzle because it's necessarily that logical. They solve it because the game makes you think about time. Like how your character is thinking about time differently, like how the Nomai were. It's this amazing example of story and lore and character and mechanics all merging together to give you the solution to a puzzle that's also brilliant in its execution. And there are 4 or 5 of these in the game and I can't really think of any other game that does it once in that way... Maybe the Witness?

 

The only advice I can give you is stop trying to race through it and spend a bit of time 100% getting to grips with the controls. They're pretty unforgiving and confusing, and there will still be times where it feels like the game is cheating you because there are bits about it that are a bit shonky and badly designed. But there's so much in there that's unique and amazing and that probably wont be seen again in a video game because of how damn specific this thing is that it's a shame if you let a few bits ruin the whole thing for you. 

 

Or, y'know, if you don't like it that's not a problem either. Go play Max Payne 3. You can't skip the cutscenes but it's still a fucking 10/10 belter. 

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5 hours ago, Mugman said:

 

I think, and there's no easy way of saying this so I'll just come out and say it... I think you might just be shit at it? I was the first time I played the opening few hours! I was messing up jumps and not really knowing where to go or what to do and it led to me getting annoyed and jacking it in. On my 2nd, complete playthrough it clicked and I understood a lot better what it was trying to do. I still found plenty of frustration in the game, yeah, but also I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. At times the time loop was frustrating or felt out of place, but there are enough brilliant moments tied directly into the fact the solar system is blowing up and, crucially, evolving, that it's madness to suggest it's just in there for the sake of creating difficulty for the sake of it. 

The whole point of the thing is that you're grabbing at snippets of information and looking back at what you've learned. Forcing you to reset every 22 minutes forces you to get back onto that ship and see that computer again. "Oh, maybe I should double check what I've learned? See how it slots together with everything." Take stock of what you've learned, start again. 

 utterly 

 

That's an entirely different discussion then. Is it okay for a game to stop being frustrating after the first play through, i.e. after 15 hours (as opposed to 15 minutes as in Dead Cells). I get what you are saying, but you are somewhat  contradicting yourself because it's not the individual player who's shit but the experience is part of the game according to your theory. The fact you found frustrations even in your second play through appears to validate my points further above. I do agree there are brilliant and fun elements in the game, see above. 

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@Pob I got stuck on landing on the moon because of the same reasoning as you. It's not very logical so I didn't even try it until I'd ran out of other ideas!

 

One thing that I really like about Outer Wilds is that usually games with this kind of structure use stuff like door passwords or new equipment to stop you reaching the end right away. In this game though, it's knowledge of how the world works and hidden mechanics that "lock off" the end parts of Outer Wilds. Once you know how the systems work and have figured out the puzzles, you can blitz to the final areas of the game, heck you could start a new game and finish it in minutes (which of course speedrunners have).

 

I love that the answers are there in front of you the whole time but its your lack of knowledge that prevents you from exploiting them. The devs can confidently allow access to them from the start because there's no way you'd accidentally find the right things to do on your first few runs. Like all the best puzzle games most of the final puzzles test your knowledge of the way the world actually works and prove you have pieced together the info gained in previous playthroughs.

 

When I think back to my some of my favourite puzzle games of all time, they share this theme. In Riven (Mysts sequel) you have to connect disparate bits of info across the islands into something that makes sense, its only by understanding the world, the culture and even the language that you'll ever reach the end. In the Witness and Talos Principle you learn rules which when combined together allow you to solve very complex puzzles. The Witness is quite similar to Outer Wilds in that once you understand the rules you can race to the end from the start, and brilliantly (and infuriatingly) the Witnesses even randomises its final secret puzzles to make sure you understood the rules properly. Even the Portal games do this if you ignore all the gadgets and gimmicks, essentially you're learning the rules of what the gun can do and by the end the games are testing all of your combined knowledge of how the system works.

 

When you compare this to other types of puzzle game, like point and click adventures, or stuff like The Room, although they're also really good, I think its so much more satisfying to come away from a game feeling like you know its systems and world inside out. And ultimately that knowledge was required to finish it.

 

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I keep reading about this game even though I gave up on it. I feel like I can appreciate why people like it and how clever it is in its design. It also seems like the sort of game I should absolutely love (exploration, no hand-holding, puzzles - all among my favourite things in games), but I just never managed to get into it.

 

It mostly does come down to its harshness. It's too easy to die or get stranded. The controls and movement lack the precision required for some sections. I probably am a bit reckless in these sorts of games - I like to throw myself into situations and see what happens. And too often what happens is sudden death, sometimes with no obvious cause. I didn't mind at first - it was a learning process - but when I started to try and make real progress I resented every failure and restart. It's worse when you've waited for a particular moment in the cycle to do something, and then a mistimed jump ruins everything, sending you back to the start. For a game that's based around puzzles and solving a mystery, I just don't think there's any need to make it so physically difficult to reach certain areas.

 

I think I would also have preferred to have the progress log available at all times. It's not much fun when you access a tricky new location, explore everywhere then return to the ship to be told you missed something.

 

With all that, as much as I might appreciate what the game is doing, it's too tedious to actually go through it. I must have visited some locations 4 or 5 times in the end, and for various reasons still needed to go back again. Just couldn't bring myself to go on.

 

Perhaps another key factor for me here though is that I'm just not really interested in the subject matter. I'm not a science person. I don't care about quantum physics or black holes or how time works or whatever. So a lot of the ideas washed over me. I'm also not really a fan of games that communicate their stories mainly through text. I prefer themes to be represented through visuals, events and modes of interaction. I tend to skim read a lot because I want to get on and see what I can actually find, see and do.

 

So obviously if I was really caught up in the storyline and ideas, I would've been a lot more tolerant for the shortcomings and got a greater sense of reward from the discoveries I did make.

 

In a way I still think it's an excellent game. And even though it has issues, it's a case of me being the problem rather than it. I sometimes think I should go back to it, but then the thought of actually playing it quickly puts me off.

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On 24/01/2020 at 12:40, Kevvy Metal said:

We just need more of them. More games like this, and more games like The Witness... so people need to buy them more and play them more so more get made. 

You know, rather than playing it on gamepass for  minutes and lament "why's there no checkpoints or fast travel" missing the point entirely by a huge margin. 

This just reminded me of this article I saw yesterday: 

The Rise of the Information Game: Defining a mysterious, celebrated new genre.

https://egmnow.com/the-rise-of-the-information-game/

 

It talks to the makers of OW, Obra Dinn, Heaven's Vault and Her Story, which all involve piecing together clues and information.

 

I thought you might find it interesting.

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