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Outer Wilds is a game that I didn't play by choice, but by the constant recommendation of a friend back in 2020 when it was released on steam. I played the game on release, but heard of the dlc coming out before I wrote anything about it, now I have played the DLC and want to give my overall thoughts.
I want to firstly say, I love the passion and adoration people have for this title and I think that is amazing, but I wish I could say I feel the same love for it, sadly I don't. While I think the game is very good and it has some amazing moments and ideas, it doesn't hold up to the pedestal many put it on, for me at least.
Talking on the good first, the way the game is done is brilliant. A puzzle-like exploration-focused experience where knowledge is literal power, with it, the game doesn't exist. It is amazing because it nails that first time experience beautifully, crafting an amazing story that not only tells itself, but creates pointers for the rest of the game. Outer Wilds is a game that makes you embrace the unknown and uncertain bluntly as the player pushes themselves to learn and understand it. The artistic design (while not exemplary) is just good enough to keep me intrigued, and the actual story being told is one as fantastical as it is grand and masterful. The level design is also amazing, I legitimately had moments where the game shocked me in it's levels and it was really breathtaking exploring each of the planets. Now I say many of these things with the caveat that this is not the first game that has mastered these elements individually, but the cohesion of how each one is perfectly puzzle-pieced into each other make the experience a great overall one.
I think the DLC does do many of these aspects at their best, with a great horror-esque twist on it, but the DLC is not so separately thematically or stylistically (in fact it leans into both the positives and negatives of the base game a lot) and it just basically continues to compliment what the base game had.
Now let's get a little more critical in the sense of some of the games aspects. A majority of these are luckily subjective and mileage may vary from person to person, but just gonna put some things that caught my attention. The central time-based mechanic of this game really makes it hard for me to fully enjoy. I can't explain the frustration of just-about solving a puzzle to being reset and having to catch back up or wait for the "world timer" to get me back to the point I was at, because some of these sections of time you get given feel very thin and a little annoying. For me, this was the main problem of the game, I understand others did not have this frustration, but it made me anxious about "how much time do I have" and really stressed me out more than made me interested or intrigued in any way. I like to compare this to Majora's Mask because that's really what the system is trying to emulate, but in Majora's Mask it felt more refined and paced out, you had to plan your decisions in advance, where Outer Wilds felt a little too loose for the same system to work to equal effect. The second issue I draw is that this game completely falls apart for a certain type of player, those who need clear goals and clear objectives. I love Outer Wilds "go wherever" approach, but it really clashes with the aforementioned time-based mechanic the game functions around. The game gives you hints and ideas of what to do and where to go, but sometimes it just leaves you with nothing and you have to convince yourself to keep going, probably the thing that made this game the most difficult for me. Don't get me wrong though, I can convince myself to do things, but Outer Wilds was not amazing at convincing me to stay, sometimes it just felt like I kept hitting dead ends, which was not a pleasing experience. The third major issue I draw is that the story felt like it climaxed too fast, the ending was filled with grandeur, but felt a little over-the-top for my taste, but this is less of a major issue and more of a preference.
I have some other minor issues with the game, such as the controls for the ship really frustrating me, and performance being a little odd from time to time, but those are neither here nor there.
TLDR: Overall I think this game deserves the praise it's getting, it is passionate, ingenious, and enjoyable. I am in the unfortunate shoes of having issues with some of the major mechanics which puts me on the backfoot when talking about this game. I respect what it does and love that people enjoy the mechanics I'm not so fond of. I enjoyed my time with it, but can't help but point out some pieces that really irk me and keep me from giving this any higher score. Also steam broke my achievements for this game now twice (both main game and DLC), so f**k steam.
I played System Shock Enhanced back in 2018 when I was trying to learn of gaming before my BIRTH, and it was a fantastic game that I really enjoyed my time with. For me, this System Shock remake is a pretty decent Modern Adaptation of the title that people will enjoy that tries its best to stick to the original, but in the process of the modernization, loses a bit of the quirk of the original.
When it comes to the story and visuals, all good with me. Takes the original and runs with the story as if nothing really changed, keeping to the spirit and letting me enjoy it for the time I played all over again, the artistic direction is also a very cool approach, really trying to modernize it without losing the feel of the original, but it does go a little overboard with the colors and lights, making the maze-like structure of the game even more confusing in some aspects, even as a player who'd played before.
I think the game really misses in the gameplay department. In the pursuit to make it accessible for new players, it loses a bit of the Jank that made the original so fun. It's similar to learning a game like Dwarf Fortress, you kinda gotta figure it out and make it work (the controls in this context). However, I understand that this modernization is doing something different so I'll get off my high horse. I do think the combat feels quite weak in this iteration as it feels very lose and unsatisfying, despite being operational.
Overall it's a good breath of fresh air to get newer players to experience the game today with a fresh coat of paint, but it can't quite live up to the Enhanced Edition I played.