The Outer Worlds
by Mike Gilbert

I like a game that has stunning 4K visuals and Y-Y-X combos as much as the next gamer, but sometimes I just want a good story that that allows me to thwart intergalactic insurance fraud and make sure two awkward people find happiness together. Sure, shoot-em-ups are fun, and puzzles can make you think, but there’s something to be said about an RPG that spends its time focusing on the friends you make along the way. Obsidian Entertainment’s The Outer Worlds fits this bill.

The Outer Worlds is set in 2355, in a far-flung star system that is being colonized by an evil yet incompetent mega-corporation. You operate under the auspices of anarchist scientist Phineas Wells, who is attempting to revive the cryo-sleeping passengers of a ship that has been adrift. The forces of unchecked capitalism are aligned against you, but you and the crew of your ship, the Unreliable, are prepared to stick it to the man.

It’s these teammates that make The Outer Worlds so engaging. The Unreliable’s A.I. pilot, ADA, is having a clandestine relationship with cleaning/murder-bot SAM. Rebel-without-a-cause Ellie takes great delight in tormenting the volatile Vicar Max. Nyoka is a one-woman army that drinks too much. But the centerpiece of the whole game is an incredibly touching romance between the ship’s engineer, Parvati, and the captain of another ship. Parvati is simply one of the most likeable and sympathetic characters of any game I’ve ever played. I NEEDED to help her get those Sweetheart Cakes.

As for gameplay/combat, it’s the Fallout series in space. If you’ve ever played one of these games, you know the score. It’s not about the look or the play. You run around and vaguely aim at or punch something. There are fun items that slow time and shrink down enemies, but no one comes to these games for the combat. Suffice to say, it’s good enough to keep you engaged while you’re resolving plot threads.

While it doesn’t go as far as the Marx-quoting Disco Elysium, The Outer Worlds’ narrative and world building are based on the evils of corporatism run amok. Ultimately though, that’s only an interesting construct for players to get into amusing hijinks with their friends. Come to free the star system from the yoke of middle-management oppression; stay to help Ellie track AWESOME onto her rich parents’ rug.

Grade: B

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