Outland Hands-On

We play with the powers of light and dark in this mesmerizing 2D platformer.

Outland initially grabbed our attention at PAX, where we saw a demo of Housemarque's artistic upcoming puzzle platformer, which uses a light-dark gameplay mechanic similar to Ikaruga. A similar demo was present at Ubisoft's Digital Day event, where we were able to go hands-on and play through the jungle level that was shown at PAX. At this point, it feels more like an action platformer than a puzzle game, but your critical thinking skills will be put to the test along with your catlike reflexes.

We glossed over the initial cutscene and story, but the general idea is that you play as someone who has strange visions and you set off to discover the meaning behind them. As you progress through the dreamlike levels, large hieroglyphics provide a hint at what's coming next--in our case, a giant boss fight--but we were told that the arcane drawings also help explain the world's mysteries.

Your character is a dark silhouette, accented by scarves that are either light blue or fiery red. This indicates what kind of power you're aligned with; blue for light and red for dark. With a push of the right bumper, you can easily and quickly switch between the two, depending on the circumstances. Light enemies, which include giant spiders and other buglike creatures with similar blue accents, can only be destroyed if you're currently handling the dark power. You'll have to constantly look ahead to see what you're up against and switch quickly, especially when a never-ending wave of red and blue beams are firing at you.

Navigating through the level can involve some backtracking and puzzle-solving. Certain platforms will only move when your powers are matched up, or they'll disappear when you're not. Your character is nimble and can gracefully leap over spiked-filled chasms. The A button is used to jump, the X button acts as your sword, and the B button replenishes a heart in your health meter once you've gathered enough energy.

After making our way through the jungle-themed level, we quickly walked through an area that looked like a dungeon or some kind of underground network. The cooler color tones here were a contrast to the warmer hues of the previous level. We eventually made it to our first boss battle, a hulking stone creature that would pound the ground with its massive stone arm, sending a wave of fire in our direction. The fight came in several phases and became more and more chaotic. Not only are you dodging the creature's attacks, but you'll also have to fend off bugs, as well as dodge a shower of red and blue pellets all the while trying to focus on your goal of slashing away at the boss's head. It certainly isn't easy, but after a few tries, you'll understand the pattern; then, it's a matter of being patient and quick.

We're curious to see what other levels and boss battles are in store, as Outland looks to provide a solid challenge. Look for the game sometime in 2011 on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network.

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Discussion

28 comments
koominseo
koominseo

the guys is pretty good at the game

VidGamAnonymous
VidGamAnonymous

If they improve the combat that looks way too simple, this could be something special

Gliave
Gliave

Lookin goood...Lookin real good.

ahnzz
ahnzz

same concept of ikaruga... platformer looks pretty good... ikaruga is still more challenging

Iamshmee
Iamshmee

Someone at ubisoft played a lot of Ikaruga. This looks good but they totally ripped of the dark and light idea from Treasure. It's like Ikaruga : The Platformer.

Gargaglio5tatus
Gargaglio5tatus

I hope it's not just one of those games that depend purely on looks, like Shank. This game looks better than that so far though. I'm looking foward to it.

j_kizi
j_kizi

oh i want this...

Oozyrat
Oozyrat

@Sophia GameSpot staff member - Yeah, I can see a lot of differences (especially in the movement and combat, this seems closer to a "common" 2D platformer), however I just think that the silhouette character and the dark setting seems a little too similar and might turn off some gamers at first glance (or maybe I'm just stupid :cry: ). I guess I shouldn't have said "knock-off" because it does look really cool, maybe I'm just a little... concerned; more and more often we see games with similar settings and ideals. An example being the "post-apocalyptic" genre. I understand that quite a few recent games of this genre were being developed at the same time, but we have Fallout, Rage, Boarderlands, Metro 2033, and Half Life. Even though these are all great games, (based on reviews/reception because unfortunately I haven't played Half Life or Metro :( ) they seem to be over-using a great setting. Another example would be the war-FPS (CoD, MoH, and Battlefield) and that is a prime example of a genre that gamers are fearing will be over-used. I've already seen countless comments on MoH pages saying that it's a CoD knock-off. It might be, it might not be, either way it's turning off games which, of course, leads to less sales. To get back on topic (sorry! :( ): I'll keep my eyes open either way and wait for a demo ;) (P.S - great job with the website and Today On The Spot :D !)

Oyeboy94
Oyeboy94

Thanks to Braid and Limbo, there will be more games like this. And I'm not being sarcastic.

jadefury27
jadefury27

looks like if limbo and metal slug or contra had a baby.

YouVandal3
YouVandal3

looks like limbo, on steroids, and less absence of color! but still has that cool feel to it.... love games like these! thank you LIMBO, hopefully there will be more great 2D artsy looking games!

yummyjibblybits
yummyjibblybits

Simple concept,simple game and it looks awesome....we need more simple but fun games like this and limbo were storyline or innovative new graphics/gameplay are the not the main focus!Certainly gonna keep an eye on this!

Sophia
Sophia

@Oozyrat - the only thing this game has in common with Limbo is that it's a 2D platformer. They're very different games.

Tarfang2
Tarfang2

eversince braid loads of games like it have come out limbo, caught(trapped?) in shadows and now this not that it is a bad thing

drummer131
drummer131

This is going to be so hard for me, but I can't wait.

Oozyrat
Oozyrat

Seems like a Limbo knock-off :\ (not saying it will be bad, looks cool! But just seems too close to me :( )

Neosword
Neosword

Wow, somehow this game had slipped under my formidable radar. Looks good.

bardos-the-3rd
bardos-the-3rd

so evolving the sistem of ikaruga and bringing it to an puzzle platforming adventure, this realy looks promising

greendivine
greendivine

Looks like a good game, especially in artistic style. It remind me the opening title sequence of the movie "Catch Me If You Can". I think the idea of switching between light and dark really suit its artistic style.

da_chub
da_chub

Trine 2 is what i want...but i will get this.

NeoIostars
NeoIostars

the art design is pretty atmospheric... me likey!

fkbwii
fkbwii

I'll definitely keep an eye on this!