Capsule Review: Outland

A gorgeous 2D-platformer with Metroidvania and bullet hell elements. While many powers you gain over the course of the game are related to combat or traversal, you also get the ability to switch between blue and red. The environment has platforms, hazards, and enemies of both colors. You have to be the right color to ride a platform, avoid damage from a hazard, or deal damage to an enemy - which can mean rapid Ikaruga-like switching as the bullet hell ramps up.

The platforming and the bullet hell go together surprisingly well, with melee enemies and gravity adding a fresh dimension to the frantic color-swapping. Combat and traversal are also smooth, reactive, and precise. What integrates less well is the Metroidvania aspect, due to how it damages the game’s pacing. It takes a weirdly long time to get access to both colors, despite that being the core of the game. There’s a huge amount of backtracking - not just when you get new powers, but even just going to one end of a level to hit a switch that opens the door at the other end. Backtracking disrupts the high tension of the color-switching gameplay and exploration is less enjoyable when it means repeatedly dealing with the same threats. The game would perhaps have been better served as a more linear platformer.

I Stopped Playing When: After playing for an hour or so, I was enjoying the platforming but got frustrated with the backtracking.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

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