Review by Matt Dunn
Every once and a while there’s an independent game that really shines despite pre-play impressions. Outer Space is that game. Don’t mind if what you first assumed seemed less than impressive. It’s a fun, varied, and extremely challenging game for $5.99. But is it worth that price?
Sadly, there aren’t a lot of great games by small, independent development teams on the app store. There are plenty of throwaway applications, or games that are clones of other games. Some games strive for something big, but are killed in execution. Would you believe me if I told you that Outer Space is a game that has near perfect execution of a very simple concept, all by a one-man developer team?! It’s true.
I would tell you the basic object of Outer Space, but there are more than one! In fact, I’m trying to count all of the different objectives with the different levels, and it’s gonna take me to my second hand. That’s a bit advanced for my taste. Jokes aside, this game will have you rescuing astronauts, dodging alien lasers, racing other ships, and much more. The controls are simple: tilt to turn left or right, and press anywhere on the screen to use your booster. You have limited fuel, which doesn’t have much effect until later levels.
Ah yes, the levels. The level art and design is excellent, and will have you racing through a space tube, avoiding sun spots, rescuing stranded marines, launching off ramps in a space race, and lots more. It’s the awesome variety of this game that keeps everything fresh, with unique twists on very simply gameplay. There is a little segue image in-between levels that loosly strings together a weak plot, but an immersive plot isn’t generally the draw for this kind of game anyways.
As stated before, the visuals in Outer Space are excellent! They are all pretty much 2-D, but the backgrounds are layered nicely. The animation is very smooth, and framerate issues are light and very few. The music is great, and adds excellent mood to the levels. There several tracks, and none of them get annoying.
I ran into one bug while playing, where the touch screen stopped responding in the game. This happened twice. Fortunately, the game saves your progress on the mini-map when you close it, but it sadly does not save your progress in each level. On a side note, the longer levels have a restart point about halfway through so you don’t have to start over whenever you die.
Oh, and you’ll die a lot. Although you can change the difficulty (I can’t imagine playingt his game on hard!), the game really needs an option for health, or maybe just have a one-hit mercy shield or something. In a couple of the “go-really-fast” levels, the tilt control becomes extremely sensitive, and could send you sliding quickly from one side of the screen to the other, naturally to your doom. I’m sure this was intentional, but it can get pretty frustrating.
Seriously, this game is just plain fun. If you’re getting frustrated, don’t give up! This is a game that’s meant to occupy your time for quite a while. The last level can be especially tricky, but the ending is a nice little treat.
Presentation and Graphics
Although it sticks to simple 2D artwork, this game looks great! The level design is excellent, with various animations and things going on in the background. Graphics are clean, and animation is smooth.
Top-notch. Music fits the space feeling perfectly, and sound effects are great quality. Impressive selection for a simple game like this.
Tilt to move, tap to boost. This works well 90% of the time, but I would have liked to see an all touch option. No single level is the same. You’ll be flying up, falling down, collecting survivors, hitting sweet jumps… the list goes on! The no-touch bug isn’t too frequent, but enough to become annoying at times.
Outer Space is a strictly a single play-through kind of game, unless you decide to go back and play on a higher difficulty (and you probably will). It may not have online functions (don’t see how it would), a leaderboard, or different profiles to play on, but it’s a solid single-player experience the will take some time to beat.
I can almost guarantee that Outer Space will surprise you as much as it surprised me. A good game, with tons of variety and descent controls from a single-person independent developer!? Unheard of! Outer Space is an experience that will keep you on your toes, and thoroughly entertained for hours. The game just simply doesn’t let you get bored with it until you finish the game, which will be a heaping challenge, even to experienced players. Worth $5.99? Do I dare say yes? I dare. Go get it, and support one of the few standalone developers who really spent the time to make a polished and complete product. A little holiday sale wouldn’t hurt though!