Just putting it… Out There, but Out There: Oceans of Time is the follow up to the 2014 sci-fi title by Mi-Clos. Do you need to know anything about its predecessor? No, this is a standalone, but if you’re invested in the characters, you’ll have a headstart.
When Earth is more or less history, a new age of alien lifeforms and monsters inhabit our social circles. Gone are the days of old, run by rule-breaking politicians; now, the God Cubes run everything. However, one of these supreme monsters, The Archon, stands up to this rule, set for domination.
Out There: Oceans of Time begins when The Archon is imprisoned and transported by Captain Nyx and second-in-command Sergei. While in transit, The Archon is set free by their followers and Nyx and Sergei crash on an unknown planet. Their goal is to investigate what happened and, naturally, fix this mess.
But, and this is a massive but: they need to survive. Survival is essentially managing the resources on your ship via tiles. On these tiles are modules, storage and structures that ensure it functions. Basic needs include a telescope to track stars and planets, black hole devices, and facilities for your crew. I wasn’t a fan of the ship presentation, the mechanics work, and I couldn’t think of a better representation.
There’s an underlying mission to complete, but that’s peripheral to surviving. Movement isn’t turn-based as such, but you can only move within a small orbit based on your equipment and the assignment of a party member to said gear to give it a boost. Each move dips into your resources, so every action counts.
The focus for resources (and in order) in Out There: Oceans of Time include the following:
If any of these deplete, it’s game over. In almost all cases, you’ll have to ‘loot’ a specific planet type for fuel, oxygen or metals for the hull – occasionally, these can be bought at a merchant or salvaged through minerals and plants. Morale isn’t as imperative, but obtaining blueprints for structures that benefit the crew or completing events can boost it.
Those events occur in Out There: Oceans of Time through space exploration and when landing on a planet to explore. Here you can choose from a party of four, each with their class specialities, to mix with the locals (learning an alien tongue in the process), extracting minerals to be broken down in your refinery while navigating through booby traps. Crew can use action points specific to their class, also.
Out There: Oceans of Time is a fair game but bloody tough. The constant monitoring of resources will be forever etched into your mind, but there are frequent random events that potentially insta-kill. The most significant challenge besides resources is the lack of save points as you have to locate a beacon to do so.
The frustrating part was discovering an abandoned ship, looting it and swapping it for my own (the designs are wicked), only to run out of a resource a few systems along and get a game over. Upon loading the last saved game, I can no longer locate that ship or get enough resources to return to the primary campaign. I restarted the game (my choice) half a dozen times, occasionally having a better experience having learned some tricks, but there is a degree of randomness that makes each play unique.
Despite these minor reservations, it took about 20 minutes until I was hooked. The sheer number of variations in this game is impressive. From the craft to unlocking blueprints, learning an alien tongue, to recruiting unique party members – this game is epic, and I still haven’t scratched the surface.
The presentation in Out There: Oceans of Time is also very nice. While the periodic table design on the ship was a bit bleak, as stated, it works. The top-down exploration is a nice break in gameplay, and the cutscenes look the part, though admittedly, these story elements are a weakness of mine and like catnip.
It’s a rather loose comparison, having not played it, the game gives me the impression of No Man’s Sky with its expansive universe and many options. The variety of resource management, space exploration, and discovery of new technology and culture make this a thoroughly entertaining experience. However, be advised that while you could effectively have ‘a quick go’, the chances are it’ll occupy a lot of your time because it’s so inviting. If you can handle the space spanners thrown in your path, a.k.a. resource management, random events, and not having enough save points, it’s definitely recommended!