In space, nobody can hear you scream when aliens bungle your day job. Extra-terrestrials have been a health and safety nightmare since Alien, and Out There: Oceans Of Time is no different. A routine trip (if there is such a thing) to drop a demigod alien off at space prison goes wrong within minutes, and you’re quickly watching your escape pod hurtle toward an unknown planet. Seriously, how much do space workers get paid? Is there a Union? Can we join it?
Out There: Oceans Of Time may start off a little predictably, but minutes later it caught me off guard with a neat little narrative trick. Once you’ve recovered from your crash landing and get back on your horse (in this case a spaceship), you discover that whoops – you’ve actually been in stasis for 100 years, and the evil Archon has had an entire century to establish itself as the leader of a warmongering empire.
From there, you’re playing catch-up – and the game begins in full.
You’ll spend your time flying from planet to planet, landing every so often to explore anomalies and drill up resources. These resources are used to keep your ship afloat: metal will patch up any damage your hull takes, fuel keeps you chugging across the stars, and oxygen lets you…well, breathe. Running out of any of these will result in a quick end to your game, so it’s wise to stop frequently and top up at any planet that offers these resources.
These planets, by the way, are gorgeous. Not since Elite Dangerous have I been so enamoured with the beauty of space. Each gas giant burns with colour, and habitable planets are verdant with greenery. That, and the pop-up decision making that tests your morality and resourcefulness, are my favourite parts of Oceans Of Time. With its tough decisions and limited resources it feels like a Faster Than Light voyage with a bit more intricacy.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get as far as I would have liked with my preview. For what feels like a fairly in-depth game, there’s not much in the way of a tutorial, and that makes lots of the game’s features difficult to grasp. It feels like it drops you into the deep end a little too early, and Oceans Of Time could definitely benefit from an extended tutorial to help teach new players just what’s going on.
I also ran into a fair few issues with my version of the game that, while I assume they’ll be fixed before launch, did make progressing a bit challenging. Some bugs caused me to get stuck in infinite loading screens, or unable to enter my ship’s cargo interface, causing me to hard restart – or in one case lose my run – because of the issues. I’m not putting too much stock in these problems, because I’d expect issues of this size to be cleared up by launch, but it did somewhat sour the moments where I was really digging Oceans Of Time.
The developer has clarified that the final game will include bug fixes, polish, and general improvements. Assuming Oceans Of Time‘s extra months in stasis do it some good, I think it’s a real gem that’s worth keeping an eye on. Mi-Clos is clearly passionate about the sci-fi genre, and it shows in Oceans Of Time‘s gorgeous universe.
Out There: Oceans Of Time launches on April 7 for PC.