The light and dark mechanics will keep you on your toes the entire time.

User Rating: 9 | Outland PS3
Outland is the story of the Two Sisters, one controlling Light, the other Dark, who used their powers to create the world. Then tried to destroy it so they could try again. A lone hero rose up, as is the way of these things, and imprisoned them. Now the Sisters are about to break out of jail and a new hero is needed. As usual, you play the part of the aforementioned hero, who on this occasion is not given an identity. It's your job to go out into the world, acquire powers, battle enemies, do a lot of jumping and fell some bosses in the name of saving creation.

The first thing that strikes you is Outland's visual style. It practically grabs your eyeballs. Everything in the foreground is basically black, but highlighted with very bright bold colours and patterns. The background is vivid colour and shapes in direct contrast to the foreground. The hero's movement is swift and swirling patterns of projectiles often fill the screen. If this game doesn't give you an epileptic fit I suspect nothing will.

At the start of the game you can run, jump, wall-jump and climb ladders and ledges. Early on you get a sword that lets you attack enemies, and later a sliding attack, ground-pound attack, beam attack, an energy shield and the abilities to use special relics in the worlds. But the main powers you acquire are Light and Dark. Within the game there are various things (enemies, switches, platforms, energy projectiles and beams) that have either Light (coloured blue) or Dark (coloured red) alignment. Switching alignment is as easy as pressing a button and is instantaneous. To be able to stand on platforms or make them move, you must match the colour, either blue or red. Same thing with switches. Energy projectiles or beams normally damage you, but not if you match the colour first, they instead impact an invisible shield around you. Enemies are different; you must have the opposite colour selected to be able to damage them, otherwise your attacks are useless. To start with the game only sends single lines of projectiles of a single colour at you, that are easy to avoid. But as you progress further, you will come across increasingly complex patterns of different coloured projectiles and beams that criss-cross the screen, and require some thought, a lot of coordination and fast reflexes to pass uninjured. Add to that the enemies of each colour, and sometimes you are forced to juggle lots of different coloured things at once as you try to find the right colour just to stay alive.

If you do get injured, find a green heart to refill part of your health. When objects and enemies are smashed or defeated, pick up the doubloons they drop to add to your cash. Attack and smash green hearts to earn extra doubloons. Later on some of your moves consume energy, which is replenished by defeating enemies. And if you ever come across an upgrade statue, spend some of your cash to upgrade your health or energy levels. There is a constant feeling of character development thanks to the regular move upgrades you receive, and these moves are vital for getting past certain areas although how useful each move is varies. The slide attack for example is vital against most ground enemies and makes them easy to kill. The ground stomp however is seldom used, unless you need to get through a cracked floor.

The enemy variety is good and they attack and move in different ways, although the game does stop introducing new ones about half-way through. Not that that's a problem, given the size of the challenge the game presents. Indeed you may count it as a blessing. Bosses are suitable huge and follow the same colour-coded rules as the rest of the game, but make no mistake; these guys don't go down to simple sword swings. They are set up as movement and combat challenges in their own right, have multiple stages of battle and are far from easy. The narrator does a good job of delivering the story alongside the colourful frescos, and the in-game map is easy to read.

The colour on-screen is pretty enough to distract you, but you must remember those pretty orbs of light are trying to kill you. Overall this game does a good job of taking the platforming concept and doing something new and interesting, and certainly does it in style.

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