An homage to the classic 1982 horror movie The Thing that had seen the light of day at the wrong time. Was it worth playing?
|Developer||Cantina Games and Entertainment, Inc.|
|Publisher||Cantina Games and Entertainment, Inc.|
|Genre||Point-and-click, horror, indie|
|Purchase (PC/Mac/Linux)||Purchase from Steam.|
* Previously published at Indie GAGA *
Yes, readers. More indie games for October. This time, something new. This game is a Steam gift from Mantis, a video game enthusiast I had met recently and founder of Blue Mantis Games and Indie GAGA. I have him to thank for this review.
I don’t have any clever intros so let’s get started.
Outpost 13 is a horror game recently released on Steam, featuring an 8-bit art style and point-and-click mechanics. At the moment, the game had opened up to some minor controversy among those who have purchased it. To understand why, you will probably need to watch this video first.
Seems like a really cool concept, right? The game is clearly an homage to the movie called The Thing from 1982. The developer also cited Alien, The X-Files, and The Evil Dead as sources of inspiration.
While one may argue that the 8-bit art style is pointless—just as I pointed out in my Home review—I actually find it complimentary in a subtle way. Alien came out during the late ’70s and the others continued through the ’80s and ’90s. Perhaps this connection is too vague, but most of those came out during an era when video games were in their infancy and characters and objects in the games were represented by pixels.
I don’t know if this is an intentional decision or not, but I welcome it.
Before I explain the gameplay, let’s go over the story real quick. You’re a husky named Fenrir and some scientists end up using you as an experiment. The experiment goes awry when Fenrir fuses with an alien lifeform called Tantalus, an evil creature who looks like a mix between Spiritomb from Pokémon and Ignignokt from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Under the influence of Tantalus, Fenrir murders the scientists and he sets out to kill the rest of the crew of Outpost 13 (the name is a reference to U.S. Outpost 31 from The Thing) and escape the planet.
And… that’s pretty much it. As the game description points out:
You’re the Monster
…You know, when I first read the description, I said out loud, “What the hell.” And then it dawned on to me that this is an AWESOME concept.
And this is where the game fails to deliver what it promises.
The gameplay is pretty much your average point-and-click game. You control Fen using mouse clicks and your main objective is to exterminate all of the humans in Outpost 13. To do this, you need to solve some puzzles that give you an advantage over the humans without blowing your cover as an alien.
There is also a time mechanic, which is mostly pointless right now because all that happens is that if you reach 2200 hours, you’re locked into your room and you can crawl into the vent to spy on the crew members and get hints on to move forward in the game. There doesn’t seem to be a penalty for how many days have passed either.
That is all well and fine, but the main trick here is to figure out WHICH puzzles you need to solve. And that is where the game drops the ball.
The game is mostly wandering around these big, empty hallways until you find something. If you only use the default walking speed, it becomes a test of patience. Luckily, the developer did add a fast walk feature so you can just hold the SHIFT key to get by faster.
There are currently four main rooms, where you have to slaughter the crew members. Tantalus may give you hints on what to do next, but you need to be diligent in exploring because it’s easy to miss details. In order to make progress, it is essential that you collect certain items and bring them to the appropriate locations. And it is this trial-and-error gameplay that underwhelms anticipating players.
However, doing anything suspicious in any of these four rooms will cause this meter on the top of the screen to decrease. Once it reaches 0, Tantalus will force you to go back to your room and advise you not to go back to that same room you were just in. Going back and performing suspicious actions again will cause a man with a flamethrower to barge into the room and roast you into a pile of ashes.
Yep. Just like in The Thing.
The soundtrack fits well, setting an eerie tone as you plan your next murder.
I hate to put down an indie game while it’s crawling on its belly, so I’ll say this at least: the game is simply not ready.
Outpost 13 is currently an “early access” type of game, an alpha build, but without the title to go with it. I only played a little over two hours of this game and it felt like that I completed just about everything that it has to offer currently—minus one sleeping lady who never seems to leave her room.
You’ll get yours one day, bitch. Consider yourself lucky.
Other than that, I don’t think there is anything about the game that propels it to being awful. Sure, it had some questionable choices on how you approach the game but that is simply the nature of a game still being developed.
There are going to be bugs. Some stuff will be hard to find or hard to figure out. It’s the point where you ask yourself, “What do you expect?”
But people were more mad about a couple of things:
- Some donated money to the project through Kickstarter or Humble Bundle Backer and felt like they didn’t get their money’s worth.
- The game only lasts a couple of hours at its current state and costs $9.99. It’s just not worth that much right now.
Again, the game is a neat concept but it fails to meet expectations based on what was seen of the game before its release. Luckily, Outpost 13 is getting updated frequently so we may check back later.
But as it is now, buy this game at your own risk. You can either wait for it to get better or just get a small taste of what the game could’ve been.
- The game’s creepy atmosphere shows through its soundtrack and empty corridors.
- The pixel graphics fit well with this game, since its strongest inspiration was a popular horror movie from the ’80’s.
- The game has a strong potential in being a unique type of horror game, though it needs some serious polish to be a more “adequate” game.
- The game is incomplete, only lasting about two hours of gameplay and is glitchy.
- While the puzzles are mostly simple, finding out where to start them requires trial and error.