Tag Archive: Outer Wilds


As an Indie developer, it’s hard sometimes to advance through the stages of game development, especially when compared to the pace of the AAA and AA powerhouses on the gaming scene. So, even though the alpha version of Outer Wilds was able to take home the 2015 Seumas McNally Grand Prize at the Independent Games Festival at GDC 2015, it’s not really surprising that its developers decided to go quiet for a while in order to focus on building towards an inevitable release. Well, just about three years after that landmark win for Team Outer Wilds—now a part of developer Mobius Digital—and on the heels of a publishing deal with another relatively fresh face on the scene in Annapurna Interactive (What Remains of Edith Finch, Gorogoa), Outer Wilds was ready to be shown off again. Thus, I happily headed down to Mobius Digital’s LA-based studio to go hands-on with Outer Wilds and see first hand just how far it had come.

Outer Wilds is a stellar space mystery with a Majora’s Mask time-repetition mechanic that will have you racing against the clock as you try to piece together various conundrums around your solar system before the day resets. You start off as a humanoid creature on your home planet, the latest brave astronaut in the early days of your species’ space program. Everything has a fitting cobbled together feel—like a cross between the Wright Brothers and NASA—but it’s more than enough to get your little one-man ship hopping around the solar system in pursuits of knowledge. As you visit each new planet, you’ll uncover relics from a lost civilization, as well as converse with the handful of other astronauts in your program as you try to better understand your little slice of the universe and what caused the extinction of those that came before you.

All this happens while also trying to figure out what triggered a time loop that only you and a couple other astronauts are remotely even aware of. Fortunately, because of this, every clue you find is recorded on your ship’s computer, and you can begin connecting the dots in the galaxy’s biggest mysteries in hopes of finding a way out of this Groundhog Day in space.

Although it sounds simple enough on the surface, Outer Wilds has so many moving pieces that it might be hard to wrap your head around where to start at first. Abandoned space stations and moons orbit around the system’s several planets, which themselves are explorable right from the get go and filled full of secrets to uncover. They’re also extremely diverse, ranging from your Earth-like home to sandy desert worlds, barren rocky landscapes, and even a gas giant with a liquid core that you can splash around in. (Oh, and pro-tip: be sure not to forget your spacesuit before you try any of those moonwalks—atmosphere is important, kids.) Playing the role of part-astronaut, part-detective allows you to approach everything with a patient methodology as you take on each new challenge, testing your analytical skills as you uncover more clues and begin to realize how small you really are even in this fictitious slice of cosmos.

Though I only got to play through a couple of “days” in Outer Wilds, it already started to suck me in. After fiddling with the controls and getting a grasp for how my one-man ship maneuvered in space, each new discovery filled me with a childlike wonderment I haven’t felt in puzzle games since maybe the original Myst way back when. Adding in the ticking clock before the galaxy reset also instituted a sense of urgency at first, but I learned quickly how to use it to my advantage (along with how not to panic). After all, everything would end up just where I originally found it—and the knowledge I had accrued would stay with me.

My brief time with Outer Wilds only reaffirmed why this game was an award winner back in its alpha phase. If you love mysteries, exploration, and have an affinity for time loops, this is looking like it might be a game for you. I can’t wait to hop back in my spaceship again when Outer Wilds finally launches onto our PCs sometime later this year.

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Outer Wilds won the 2015 Independent Games Festival’s grand prize and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor took home Game of the Year at the 2015 GDC Awards.

Outer Wilds was also the most prolific winner of the Indie Games Festival, pulling home a second award for Excellence in Design in what was a field of wide-ranging games in all categories.

Shadow of Mordor, meanwhile, only took home one award, but it was the biggest one of the night for the GDC Awards, which immediately followed the IGF. Monument Valley actually walked away with the most trophies, though, with three. Other notables include Alien: Isolation for Best Sound and Destiny for Best Technology.

Aside from the nine awards given out in specific categories, the GDC Awards also recognized Brenda Romero with the Ambassador Award for her over 30 years of service in the games industry. David Braben was also honored with the Pioneer Award for his work in the game Elite from the early 1980s. And finally, Hironobu Sakaguchi was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award for creating the Final Fantasy series.

At the IGFs, This War of Mine received the Audience Award as voted on by the fans.

For all of the nominees in each category, you can check out the list below. Winners of the various categories in the Independent Games Festival also received cash prizes for their victories. Winners from both events have been bolded.

Independent Games Festival: 

Excellence in Audio
Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure
Phonopath
The Sailor’s Dream
Shovel Knight
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Thumper

Excellence in Design
80 Days
Framed
Invisible, Inc.
Killer Queen
Outer Wilds
The Talos Principle

Excellence in Visual Art
Donut County
else Heart.Break()
Lumino City
Memory of a Broken Dimension
Metamorphabet
Oquonie

Excellence in Narrative
80 Days
Coming Out Simulator 2014
Ice-Bound: A Novel of Reconfiguration
PRY
This War of Mine
Three Fourths Home

Nuovo Award
BECOME A GREAT ARTIST IN 10 SECONDS
Bounden
Desert Golfing
Elegy for a Dead World
how do you Do it?
Plug & Play
Rooftop Cop
Tetrageddon Games

Student Showcase
a-part-ment
Close Your
Downwell
Even the Stars
Gemini
Interloper
Rooftop Cop
Stellar Smooch

Seumas McNally Grand Prize
80 Days
Invisible, Inc.
Metamorphabet
Outer Wilds
The Talos Principle
This War of Mine

Game Developers Choice Awards:

Best Debut
The Astronauts
Respawn Entertainment
Stoic Studio
Upper One Games
Yacht Club Games

Innovation Award
Bounden
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Monument Valley
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
This War of Mine

Best Technology
Destiny
Elite: Dangerous
Far Cry 4
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Wolfenstein: The New Order

Best Audio
Alien: Isolation
Destiny
Hohokum
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Transistor

Best Visual Art
Alien: Isolation
Bayonetta 2
Child of Light
Hohokum
Monument Valley

Best Narrative
80 Days
Kentucky Route Zero: Act III
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
This War of Mine

Best Design
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Shovel Knight

Best Handheld/Mobile Game
80 Days
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Monument Valley
Super Smash Bros. 3DS
Threes!

Game of the Year
Alien: Isolation
Bayonetta 2
Destiny
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor