Its environments are enormous and graphically out of date. Its creature designs are sometimes incoherent. Its particle effects are as flat as its environmental storytelling.
And yet RPG survival sim Outward still captures the imagination. I mean, what is it? It could be the Dark-Souls-slow fighting animations. It could be those vast and deceptively uninspired landscapes. It could be the overwrought use of a backpack that you have to drop during combat in order to be more nimble, or the need to carry multiple outfits depending on the weather. I mean, our mothers all taught us to wear layers when the weather was unpredictable outside, and now I get to play out that concept in a video game? Hooray! Also, check out that splitscreen co-op. How rare is that, right?
Ultimately, Outward looks like three or four games slapped together with only a third or a fourth of the budget it needed to get there. But the concept of being just a regular Joe, forced out into the open world in order to pay off your past-due mortgage, of all things, is still a weirdly compelling origin story for an action role-playing game. This isn't about being spoonfed superhero powers and doing superheroic deeds. It's about being a nobody and simply doing what you have to do to survive—where survival means kill the beast or live in the streets.
Outward is getting a lot of love on Twitch right now. That's uncommon for a single-player RPG, so it won't last long. But you'll need to see this one in action before clicking the buy button, no doubt. I haven't pulled the trigger on a purchase, but I also haven't been watching anything else on Twitch this week but Outward.
Outward launched last week, March 26, on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.