I’ve always had nightmares that some day I’d be able to travel into space, but a mishap would occur throwing me into the far reaches of the universe with no clear path back. It’s also one of the reasons I loved watching Star Trek Voyager, because it forced people to truly tackle the complete unknown in search of a way home. Out There: Ω The Alliance for the Nintendo Switch is a choose your own adventure styled game blended with survival resource management that precisely places you in this scenario of being lost “out there” in space with the odds of living not in your favor. Will Out There find its place in the galaxy as a solid game, or drift off into the darkness, never to be remembered?
With a freak anomaly, you find yourself alone somewhere in the universe inside your spaceship with beacons lightyears away helping to guide you back home. However, the journey is far from simple, and perils are at every corner. Playing Out There Ω The Alliance is all about managing your ship’s resources, while tempting fate with every encounter that confronts you. Gameplay is split into these two main areas, but overlap continuously.
Managing your ship is all about maintaining three primarily segments: your fuel, oxygen, and hull. These are managed by probing planets for the resources needed to replenish these areas of your ship, and can also be acquired through other avenues. Should any of these deplete entirely during your travels you’ll be in trouble and more often than not, as I found…done for. With a roguelike feel, if you perish you’ll start over again, with a randomized universe to traverse. There’s an immense amount of RNG (Random Number Generator) mechanics at work in this game, so you’ll oftentimes feel as though luck is either with you, or quite against you. In addition to the main ship segments, you’ll also find rarer elements that can be used to craft new equipment as you discover it. Items range from better hyperdrives for longer jump distances to scanning equipment that lets you know what planets are comprised of within a start cluster.
The Choose-Your-Own-Adventure narrative gameplay is the other primary interaction point. While traveling between star systems, you’ll oftentimes be confronted with a narrative dialog box, which also coincides with something happening that’ll force you to make a decision. In many of these cases, it’ll be a risk vs reward condition as well. For example, stumbling upon a derelict ship, and choosing to explore it, instead of leaving it be, which ultimately nets you some resources, but in the meantime something negative has happened and now you’ve lost a percent of your oxygen storage. The writing here is quite good and certainly engaging, and I felt that it also did a fulfilling job of narrating your own personal solitude and emphasizing your bleak situation. You’ll find yourself generally talking about yourself in the first person, as one likely would tend to do alone in space.
This game is tough, but it never feels frustrating in a bad way. In fact, along with the narrative feeling bleak, the whole progression feels the same way. You’ll always struggle to maintain enough of the primary resources to keep your ship trudging through the universe, much in the same way the crew in Firefly just needed to keep their ship flying. Often I’d find myself on the last few bits of fuel, but with no place to be able to successfully jump to within range. When you’re in that position of no more options, you take the last risk of making a leap of faith with your hyper drive, and hope you might find a bounty of the precious resources at your destination, if you can survive at all.
There comes a ton of variety along the way in terms of what you’ll encounter as well. I found that even after several back to back games, I had very little overlap in the choices that were presented to me. There are also various points where sci-fi pop culture will be loosely referenced, which is also a nice treat to find. Furthermore, there’ll be chances at finding and taking over derelict ships that can become your own, sometimes with more advanced tech that can make progressing further a fair bit more possible. Alien races that you meet along the way can also be helpful if you play your cards right in how you treat and talk to them. The variety is certainly large, and because of that I didn’t find myself getting burned out from repetition.
Now for those unfamiliar, Out There isn’t a brand-new game, and in fact made its debut back in 2014 on iOS and Android, later releasing on Steam in 2015 with some acclaim. For the Nintendo Switch launch, the developers rebranded it Out There Ω The Alliance and also included new content, such as several new ships to discover, a heap load of new interactive moments, new unique missions, and much more. However, the leap in space to this console didn’t leave the game totally unscathed. I found several UI problems with overlapping button icons, and the most egregious is that when playing in handheld mode, for whatever reason all of the interactive text is displayed central on the screen in a very small box, with a very small font. I couldn’t see any reason not to utilize quite a bit more of the screen space when these texts display and allowing for a more legible sized font as well. Given that so much of the game is focused around reading these stories, if you’ve got poor eyesight in any way, you’ll want to stick with TV mode or hope for a patch on this feature.
Similar to its previous versions that were touch screen only, you’ll find the ability to play with the Joy-Cons or via touch, and both function great on the platform and are welcomed. It’s one of the few games I’ve played so far that I found myself actively using both methods as well at any given point.
Any shortcomings this game currently has on the system certainly don’t detract from enjoying the totally bleak situation you’re thrust into. Exploring and surviving the depths of space in this casual non-combative gameplay format is truly fun. For me, Out There Ω The Alliance will find its place among the stars…and my Nintendo Switch.
Out There: Ω The Alliance Review
- Graphics - 7.5/107.5/10
- Sound - 7/107/10
- Gameplay - 7.5/107.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8/108/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Out There Ω The Alliance offers plenty of new content for its Switch release. Small text in handheld mode is a bit problematic, but I still had a fun time. Easy to learn resource management should engage most players, but the RNG will usually get the best of you so don’t be surprised to start over a lot. This one will allow you to explore the dire and bleak adventure of solitary space travel and the mental impact that follows.