Slower and less dazzling than light.
Out There: Ω The Alliance will be immediately familiar to those who have played FTL: Faster Than Light. It’s a roguelike about space exploration and survival, with plenty of achievements, ships, and endings to unlock. Resource management is key as you need to balance fuel, oxygen, and the integrity of your ship’s hull to make it as far as possible. The comic book style presentation provides a satisfying backdrop to your exploratory endeavors, and while most runs offer something new, there are a few elements and omissions that keep Out There from truly blasting off.
You play as an astronaut who awakes from cryo-sleep in an unknown part of space. You begin with limited technology and enough resources to explore and mine a handful of star systems, but your space map does give you a goal: a red marker. As you play, you can uncover story elements that give you other markers, and these represent endings that you can earn on that particular run. The perspective jumps from a map of star systems to individual planets and stars within those systems that let you mine for resources such as hydrogen to use for fuel or iron to use for ship repairs. You can access a grid-based map of your ship that shows the equipment and resources you are carrying, and from this screen you can refill your meters and make repairs. You can also craft new equipment based on technology you discover during your run.
Mining and traversal use up fuel and oxygen—and sometimes damage your ship’s hull—so you are constantly needing to secure more resources to prolong your journey. This is the crux of Out There: moving through space so that you can find more stuff to let you keep moving. As you make your way through star systems, you also encounter events that are displayed via text panels on the screen, some of which give you choices to make. An alien ship might have a tractor beam locked on to your ship: do you expend precious fuel to blast away or find out if your captors are the friendly type? The story panels are interesting, but I found that many of them did more harm than good, often dealing a substantial blow to my fuel reserves, especially.
The comic book art style lends character to the presentation of Out There, but there are still so many instances where you are simply reading text to learn about what happened when you jumped to a new star system. To make matters worse, the text is incredibly small, and there is no option to increase its size. It would have been nice to see some animation or more of the comic panels telling the story, or at the very least some kind of slider to increase font size.
A significant strength is the sheer number of challenges to complete. The nature of rogue-likes is that you will inevitably be doing the same actions over and over again, and because there isn’t really much in the way of carryover from one run to the next, achievements and unlockables can make your runs feel more purposeful. In a way, these represent the progression that replace the stats, leveling, and growth that Out There doesn’t employ. Even if I knew I wouldn’t make it to one of the game’s endings, knowing that I had unlocked a new ship or earned a few achievements carries with it a strong feeling of satisfaction. The downside, of course, is that there is less to unlock the more that you play, but you do get a score at the end or your run, so you can aim to keep improving on that.
Floating here in space, I am left with the feeling that something is missing, besides gravity. The combat and action sequences of FTL broke up the repetitiveness—and occasional boredom—of exploring space and acquiring resources. The story beats and random discoveries of new technology and alien species help with that in Out There; short runs might have neither of these elements, nor are runs that are hours into your playtime guaranteed to have anything new. As it is, I would recommend this game to those who like sci-fi rogue-likes and those who played FTL and wanted more story from it. There is a solid base here, but a little more variety in gameplay and a few more quality-of-life tweaks would take Out There from a white dwarf to a red giant.