Thursday, September 01, 2011

Outland review

Another PSN game this time a side-scrolling platformer that reminds me of the classic 2D Prince of Persia in that a lot of acrobatics are involved. The story is pretty understated and doesn't really matter - two sisters, light and dark, created the world then intended to destroy it. They were defeated by a hero and trapped, but are now returning and it's up to you to take on the hero's mantle and prevent it.

All in all it's pretty much a bog-standard affair, however the twist comes some way in when the character acquires the power of light (blue) and later the power of dark (red) and has to remain in one of those two states. Switching between these two states at the right time becomes the key to the game. While in one state energy projectiles of that same colour cannot harm the character, however neither can the player harm any enemies of that colour. So in that instance consider attacking a red enemy while an emitter above sends out a pulse of red energy orbs; or an emitter that alternates between them. It's not just that, the state also affects what platforms are or aren't substantial. At times this means hopping between blue and red platforms and having to change state mid-leap.

It is this mechanic along with the fluidity and ease of switching that makes the game different from other platformers. It's tied well into the entire game and doesn't feel like a gimmick or a simple way to restrict movement.

It does have some minor flaws though. Although it saves between each level transition save points within a section can be a little scarce or hard to reach. It's not possible to look or down so some faith jumping or falling can be required; although there is a map it's a separate screen. Although state changes are quick and fluid being hit adds a delay to this and can leave one confused as to which state is currently active. Finally the boss fights rely on memorising set patterns of behaviour which is not possible when first facing them.

As a downloadable game only this comes at the normal price of around a tenner; for that you get a game that will compare in play time to a lot of first person shooter's single-player campaigns