Outward from Nine Dots Studio and Deep Silver is a new action RPG on PlayStation 4. Learn more about it in our Outward review!
In Outward you take on the role of not a hero, but of a regular person who is not particularly strong nor particularly good at anything. Sure, you will get to go out on a big adventure and take on dangerous enemies and wildlife, and you might learn some powerful skills to tip the balance a bit in your favor, but this one is really more of an underdog story when you think about it.
Since there is so much to do in the game and so much to learn, I suggest that you start your journey by taking on the tutorial that Outward has to offer. You will be sent to a special area where you’ll move around with the left analog stick and tilt the camera with the right one so that you can see what you’re going up against. Along with your trusty sword, you will also get a backpack you can equip right away so that you can carry items with you. Follow the red line, and you’ll be taken to a stone that glows purple, telling you to head down the steps to learn about combat.
You can lock the camera on an enemy by pressing down on the right analog stick so that you can easily follow it around and deal some damage with your attacks. Use the Square and the X buttons to attack the non-moving enemy to find out how your basic combo attacks work. You will need to pay attention to your health, stamina and mana bars on the lower left corner of the screen so that you can know how much health you have left, how many attacks you can deal before you become tired, and how many magical skills you can use – not knowing this at all times will not end well for you!
As you battle enemies, you can and will need to block with the R1 button to protect your character from damage and to lower the knockback you might receive from a blow. While you can block just fine with your sword, a shield is certainly more useful for this – it WAS made for that action in particular! You can also use your shield for blocking long-range attacks. And if you don’t want to take any chances, you might as well hit the L1 button to dodge an attack!
As you move and attack you’ll need to keep an eye on your stability bar at the bottom of the screen – it’s a white bar right on the center of it. If your stability bar reaches 50%, your character will be knocked back, potentially leaving you open to your enemies’ attacks – this is bad. And if it is completely depleted (you know, going down to a very bad 0%), then you’ll be knocked down, unable to defend yourself for a moment, leaving you wide open to a world of pain if you’re not careful.
Another important thing to learn about is skills, which are assigned to sets of four at a time – you can see them in the lower right corner of the screen. You can switch between the two sets of skills by pressing the L2 and R2 buttons so that you can then use the one you need by pressing either the Square, Triangle, Circle or X button. Skills are assigned from the menu you can open by pressing on the touchpad of the DualShock 4. When you want to use a skill, hold down the L2 or R2 button for the skill set you’re using in the quickslots, and then press the corresponding face button. Some skills might also need other skills to be activated first before you can use them, so be sure to pay attention to this.
The enemies you defeat can should be looted, since all extra items, weapons and ingredients you find can make a big difference in your odds of surviving. The things you collect take a spot in your pocket and in your backpack, so you won’t be able to just carry around whatever you want. All items are valuable, and this is twice as important for food and water. You have hunger and thirst meters, and you need to keep an eye on them or else you might end up passing out. Plants provide some nourishment, and you can also kill animals for food. Water is what you’ll need to quench your thirst, so if you find a clear water source be sure to take a drink and collect some water to take with you.
Meat should be cooked, and water should be boiled, or else you run the risk of becoming ill. While you can recover from illness on your own, it will take a while for this to happen, so if you can find some medicinal tea, you should use it to speed things up and recover. If you’re out in the wild, you can use the campfire kits you’ve crafted. You’ll need to gather some units of woods, and then craft a campfire kit from your menu. If you’re cooking a single ingredient, then a campfire is all you’ll need. But if you’re going to use more than one ingredient, you’ll need to use an equipped kitchen or use a cooking pot over a fire. While you can manually work on your cooking, I suggest you don’t risk it and use the recipes you have.
Resting is another important thing to consider during your adventure, so be sure to plan accordingly so that you can deploy a tent as you explore the world. Once you’re ready to enter the tent, you’ll need to decide for how long you’ll be sleeping, what the odds are of being ambushed in your sleep, and selecting to repair the equipment on you that might have lost some of its durability from putting it to good use. This is particularly important for your weapons because if they’re not properly taken care of, you won’t be able to deal proper damage to enemies.
Extreme weather is a thing in this game, so you’ll need to monitor your temperature as you explore the world of Outward. If you’re going through a hot climate, you’ll need to drink more water and to use clothes that can protect you from the sun. You’ll also need to use lighter pieces of armor since heavy armor, while great for offering a boost to your defense, is rarely a good thing when you’re in a hot location. Cold temperatures, on the other hand, will require that you wear padded clothes or clothes with fur. Items you consume, or potions you drink, can also help to moderate your temperature.
Once you’ve finished the tutorial, you’ll get to create your character. The game will randomly select a name for your character, but if you’re not feeling that name, you can press the Square button to customize it. You can then select between playing as a male or a female avatar, select between the available races, pick a face style, a hairstyle and a hair color, as well as a legacy, if you have one from a previous run – think of it as a bit of a New Game+ of sorts, during which you’ll get to join a different faction (more on this in a bit).
After this, you will start your adventure, with nothing but a kick ability and a pair of shorts to keep you mildly dressed. You’ll find a torch, which you should take with you, and will need to find items, weapons, armor, and supplies to stay alive and defend yourself. You’ll find some tattered clothes, and if you walk down a small stream of clean water (which you should drink a bit from), you’ll find a large harpoon to serve as a weapon and as a tool to get you some fish – a good source of food to keep you from fainting. You can slowly but surely find new items and things, but you’ll need to pay attention to what you take with you since you start without a bag to carry items, so your pockets will quickly fill up.
After finding a friendly NPC, you’ll get to rest for a bit before waking up in your house, inside of the city, and it is then that your journey will truly commence. You will find out that your character owes 150 silver pieces, and that payment is already way past due. While a mob of citizens demands that you immediately pay up, the Chamberlady is a bit more understanding since, you know, you were recently in a shipwreck. Even with her help, you only have 5 days to come up with the money, and the only idea your character can think of is going past the city walls to venture into the wild to try and come up with enough items and supplies to sell, as well as any coins you might loot from those even less fortunate than you, to pay the debt.
You can’t just walk out of town as you are since the guards won’t let you walk out of the gates to be killed by the dangers that await you outside of the city. So before you can set foot outside and go past beyond the safety of the city walls, you will need to have a weapon to defend yourself, a backpack so that you can carry more items beyond those that you can take with you inside of your pocket. You will also need a waterskin so that you can carry with you some clean water, or else you’ll end up feeling thirsty and weak. Once you have all that you need, get closer to the town gate, and begin your journey.
Outward is a fun game with an adventure that will keep you busy for dozens of hours. The graphics might not be the best you will find on PlayStation 4, but they get the job done for this adventure in which you will take on the role of someone who is not a hero, and who most certainly was not prepared for what would happen to its life after the shipwreck. The game offers a lot of replay value thanks to the different factions you can join, as well as because of the full trophy list with a Platinum trophy at the end of the road. The game is available on Sony’s console digitally or at retail for $39.99.
This Outward review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Deep Silver.