There are very few games that bring an experience as unique as Outer Wilds (2019). I started my first playthrough in the fall of 2022, as per the recommendation of a friend. Though I was at first doubtful of the game, even after hearing only positive things about it, after playing and completing it over winter break I can firmly say that Outer Wilds is a game that everyone needs to play at some point in their lives. This article will not contain major spoilers for the game, as this game is best experienced without them, so I don’t recommend searching up walkthroughs.
Outer Wilds is an open-world game where you play as a Hearthian, who is part of a four-eyed blue alien species that explores a solar system. This solar system is much smaller than our own, with planets being only kilometers apart from each other, instead of millions of miles. You explore the system and unearth texts and technology by the Nomai, an ancient race of advanced goat-like aliens with warp technology and massive cities, among many other things. At the beginning of the game, the story of the Nomai has already ended, with them being mysteriously wiped out by something that you discover later.
While the phrase “open world game” can turn people away from playing some games, as some have the reputation of being boring, long, and tedious, Outer Wilds is a game that defies these preconceived notions. After first waking up, you go through a tutorial on how to use the game’s basic mechanics and blast off for the first time. The game doesn’t tell you anything about what to do first–that’s your choice. If you want to go to the farthest reaches of the solar system, you can. If you want to go to the biggest planet, you can. One of the best parts of Outer Wilds is the freedom that you have to explore to your heart’s content, as you are not restricted to a food bar to replenish hunger, or a fuel bar for your spaceship, both of which are common staples in open-world games. In your ship you have a ship log that nudges you to explore more of the solar system with clues that point you to your next destination. The characters are also all likable and have distinct personalities. You find many travelers similar to you on the different planets of the solar system; they will give you hints to the secrets of those planets when you talk to them, in a similar vein to the ship log.
I really enjoyed playing Outer Wilds for the first time, and I was blown away by its creativity and wide-ranging adventures. The gameplay is very different from most games that you can play, as there isn’t a limit to how much you can explore and the game encourages you to unlock its mysteries. Outer Wilds is a profound video game that provides players a unique and captivating experience.