It’s easy to list games that Outland gets its influence from. It has Metroid style exploration and upgrading, Ikaruga style color switching, Shadow of the Colossus style bosses and N+ or Price of Persia style platforming. And yet, Outland’s unique visual style and beautiful animations stood out to me most the first time I played it. Running and jumping in video games is far from revolutionary, but the fluid motions of your character in Outland and the mix of silhouette and color make Outland’s visual presentation nothing short of stunning.
In addition to looking unique, Outland also plays like no other 2D platformer. Your character embodies the spirits of both Light and Dark; a fancy way of saying he can switch between being blue and red. Energy bullets of the same color as you cannot harm you, but you can only harm enemies of the opposite color.
This adds an almost puzzle-like element to the quick platforming action of Outland. Between the deviously hard bullet patterns, and the spikes and platforms that behave based on your color, you’ll find yourself frequently switching color in the midst of challenging platforming sections.
Bullet-hell in a platformer?
This color-switching mechanic extends to the combat. You’ll often face enemies of both colors at the same time, adding a strategic element to fighting enemies. The myriad of enemy types is matched by your ever-increasing skill set to keep things interesting throughout the course of the game. Furthermore, the beautiful animations make combat look incredibly slick. Linking together slide kicks, uppercuts, air swipes and ground stomps feels fluid and fast.
Outland’s only major flaw comes up in the epic boss fights, particularly towards the end of the game. As much as I wanted to enjoy these sections, the lack of checkpoints made them more frustrating than fun, despite how well designed they are otherwise. Repeating the earlier tiers of the multi-tiered battles over and over ruined what could have easily been the most enjoyable sections of the game.
Other than this issue, Outland is near perfect. It takes influence from a variety of games and elegantly combines them to create a superb action platformer that looks and plays like nothing else you’ve seen. Full of fast and clever platforming, and excellent combat, Outland provides a gorgeous and entertaining experience, marred only by some unfair checkpoints.
- Striking visuals and excellent animations
- Color-switching mechanic leads to some creative challenges
- Combat looks and feels great
- Only $10
- Awful checkpoints during otherwise epic boss fights
- No local co-op, and no one is playing online co-op
Praise It (4/5)
Confused about our score? See our Ratings Guide.