Is Outer Wilds for me?
October 2, 2021 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Specifically: is it replayable?

Steam's running a sale on Outer Wilds right now, and I've had it on my wishlist for a while because everybody says it's great. My question is whether it's essentially a single unfolding story and/or puzzle game, where once you've done it once, there's no compelling reason to try playing it again in a different way (like Gone Home or Portal), or whether it's open-ended enough that one could enjoy playing it multiple times in different ways (e.g. Fallout: New Vegas or Deus Ex: Human Revolution).

Please try hard not to spoil the game in the process of answering the question, as a lot of the reviews emphasize that it's important to go in knowing as little as possible.
posted by Spathe Cadet to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Caveat that I haven't played OW, though I watched my partner play the whole thing and have gotten the whole experience. Not sure how to answer this question without spoilers, but the entire game is based on replay and different actions leading to different wndings/knowledge that you can apply to future playthroughs. That said, I can't imagine wanting to replay further after everything has been discovered - this my not queuing up to play after partner was done. Different play styles wouldn't really affect anything.

It's a really cool game though!
posted by theweasel at 8:04 AM on October 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I double checked the steam page and the short description mentions "open world mystery about a solar system trapped in an endless time loop." so I can at least say I think that's not a spoiler. As someone who has spend many hours playing myself, and then even more hours watching YouTubers better than I am play it and do crazy stunts with the physics engine, yes I think you will really enjoy it.

The two games you mentioned for replayability use player choice a lot in their stories for that. i don't think there's any of that in OW. The story is pretty set, but how you learn about it and explore is extremely open-ended!
posted by gzimmer at 8:04 AM on October 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I would say it's replayable in the way an M. Night Shyamalan movie is rewatchable. The second or third time through, it can still be enjoyable, but you're not gonna have that "Oh!!" moment, because you already know the twist. I feel like I more than got my money's worth at full price; if it's on sale I would absolutely grab it. I don't have the DLC, but my husband does and he said it is also a great addition.

Note that there are two games with very similar titles, Outer Wilds is the solar system in a time loop game. Outer Worlds is by Obsidian, and is basically Fallout:New Vegas in space. I mention this because you brought up New Vegas, and because a couple friends have bought the wrong game by mistake! Both are fantastic titles at full price, and definitely worth picking up on sale.
posted by xedrik at 8:26 AM on October 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

It has a deeply memorable story that is revealed in very different ways depending on your choices and paths. I was entirely satisfied sitting on the couch as my friend played it through once - it’s pretty spooky sometimes so my official role was moral support, but in reality I’d tried to play it and found the controls really impossible for the odd way my brain works so he was playing it for me at first, but we both became engrossed in understanding the mysteries of the game pretty fast. There are a few different ways to get an endgame that aren’t the “real” ending, and a bunch of detail and flavor that is fairly optional to discover, but by the time we figured out the main mystery of the game we were full in on entirely exploring everything. The structure of the game is such that you are encouraged to do this anyway.

I’m not sure about replayability, though. A lot of times with media that is close to perfect I feel no desire to revisit it, but with really flawed things I’m writing fanfic and thinking about the gaps that I wanted filled twenty years down the line. Outer Wilds is way more on the first end of that spectrum, where it’s just like this jewel of a game. It doesn’t have Witcher 3 style player choices or Chrono Trigger secret endings. But it has a gameplay structure that echoes replays, because it’s a time loop game so each loop can feel entirely different depending on how you play it.

A DLC for it just came out, which is why the game is on sale, probably. A lot of folks are probably replaying it to refresh themselves and having a good time. It’s also the kind of game where once you fully know what’s going on you can speed run it, or do goofy things with the physics engine, or change the order of how you do things. Not sure if that counts for you, since the ending is still the same. No idea about the DLC content, I’ve just seen the teaser trailer and am also not wanting to be spoiled (but will have to convince my friend to play it for me again.)
posted by Mizu at 8:34 AM on October 2, 2021

I'm just answering both because like xedrik I actually can't tell which game you mean to be asking about (this seems a somewhat odd question to be asking about outer wilds in fact), and this confusion is hilariously common right now [if that doesn't scroll right, I'm attempting to link to a comment thread by a poster named "SaintFrancis"].

Outer Wilds: The sequence through which you proceed through outer wilds is extremely open-ended, so it's probably replayable in some sense -- I reset my save after getting the dlc the other day and haven't gotten bored yet. But there's no sense of different play styles as in a game like deus ex. Basically, I think this is replayable in the sense that one might want to reread a novel that you really enjoyed, plus the variation that comes from having the (same) narrative unfold in fairly different ways depending on how you explore.

Outer Worlds: it's probably about as replayable as the average action rpg of its sort, but though I enjoyed my playthrough of it quite a bit, I have no urge whatsoever to see if other playstyles are functionally different than what I did and might be interesting, or if I care about the alternative choices I could have (I don't think I do). For reference, I have replayed nearly all arkane/deus ex games 3+ times, and could immediately tell that I'd want to replay them. So I wouldn't say that outer worlds isn't replayable, it just doesn't rise to the level of those games for me.
posted by advil at 8:43 AM on October 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

When I finished it, the ending was rewarding enough and getting there was technically tricky enough that though I was tempted to go back in to see if I could find more to discover, it didn't seem worthwhile. I, however, am not "good" at video games. I'm an adult, but new to them. I often have to look at the buttons to know which is which, for example, and a lot of the flying/maneuvering was out of my skill range. I had to have someone else get me through a lot of "fit through this tricky passage without touching the wrong things" parts. (The person who did those bits for me also found much of it challenging, in spite of his proficiency in console games).

So I think the answer to replayability is heavily tied to "how well do you handle frustration?" as big swaths of game are trapped behind exacting maneuvers and you are always, always on a timer. Asking yourself "how many times in a row am I willing to restart, fly across the solar system, stuff myself into a difficult to reach cave, and die trying to make the same jump?" should answer your question. If that sounds like a great time, 100% this is your new favourite thing.

All that said, the story is fascinating, the way the narrative unfolded was a treat, and some of the puzzles were a real delight to solve. I'm excited to play the DLC and eager to learn more about the universe they've created.
posted by foxtongue at 8:59 AM on October 2, 2021

There are people who uncovered really cool abuses of the physics and restricted runs that you would think are impossible (like 100% no space ship or no space suit) which must have been amusing for 100s if not thousands of hours. This is probably similar to people who spent huge amounts of time on Portal, but most play it once or twice. I liked that it had a well defined scope and didn't feel the need to do all the extra hard steam achievements. Because of how the game mechanics work, you are kind of replaying with modified approaches as you go the entire time; different areas of the world encourage you to learn and use new mechanics.

I hope one day to have memories of OW erased so that I can play it for the first time again. It is large but not as large as e.g. skyrim, witcher, FONV or other massive content laden games. It is not replayable in the same sense as games like AoE or civilization that are different every time, because it is fundamentally a game of figuring out and finding things. I think it is not intended to be a 1000 hours game, but is very enjoyable inside its scope.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:24 AM on October 2, 2021

Response by poster: Okay. It doesn't sound like it's replayable in the way I was hoping for, but I'm buying it anyway. Thanks, everyone.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 10:37 AM on October 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can't answer the question because I found that there are certain points (early on) where it became unplayable using keyboard and mouse. I think that you'll want a controller (with analogue sticks).
posted by porpoise at 11:29 AM on October 2, 2021

FWIW, although OW recommends a controller (it is developed for a controller), I personally found mouse and keyboard to be easier with some altered control mapping (especially for the boosters and free look) found on steam.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:49 PM on October 2, 2021

Response by poster: I was asking the wrong question. Instead of "Is it replayable?" I should have been asking "Is it playable [with keyboard and mouse]?"

It is not. Refund requested. Thanks anyway.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 7:05 AM on October 9, 2021

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