One of the very best games of the year thus far, Outer Wilds, is coming to the PlayStation 4 next Tuesday, October 15. The surprise announcement, made on the Official PlayStation Blog by producer Kelsey Rice, comes almost five months after the game’s original launch on Xbox One and PC last May.
Based on Rice’s post, it seems that the PlayStation 4 version of Outer Wilds is the same version currently available elsewhere, meaning that it doesn’t add any new content or, long protracted sigh, PlayStation VR support. That may be for the best though — considering how truly stressful parts of this game can be, experiencing them in VR might be a little much. Besides, “full 3D rotation in space” and “VR headset” can be a recipe for disaster, if not handled just so.
For those unfamiliar, Outer Wilds is an open world(s) adventure game set in a teensy tiny little solar system, which is itself a full physics simulation that operates independent of the player and their actions. For reasons I won’t get into, the player — a four-eyed alien from a planet called Timber Hearth — is trapped in a 22 minute time loop. The real grist of the game is in dissecting that time loop, which slowly divulges its secrets as the player explores each planet with their spaceship. I’ve previously described the game as “Myst meets No Man’s Sky meets Oddworld,” and months later I feel like that’s still pretty apt.
Outer Wilds started life in 2012 as the master’s thesis of Alex Beachum, now co-creative lead at Mobius Digital. An early alpha version was released for free in 2015, which won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize at the 2015 Independent Games Festival, as well as the award for Excellence in Design.
Around that time, Beachum and his team were scooped up by Mobius Digital founder Masi Oka, who saw a pre-release version of Outer Wilds during an open house at the USC Interactive Media & Games department, where Beachum was pursuing his degree. Now under the banner of Mobius Digital, Outer Wilds became the first game featured on the hybrid crowdfunding/investment platform Fig. The game’s fundraising campaign just barely crested its goal of $125,000, bringing in a total of $126,480, which contained $75,000 worth of investment-style contributions.
Those investments would vest much sooner than anticipated, when Annapurna Interactive stepped in to publish the game in 2018, buying out Fig and its investors in the process with a 220 percent return. Not half bad for the first project on a major platform, which has since seen its fair share of successes and failures. Outer Wilds was then delayed beyond its original 2018 launch window into 2019, where it eventually surfaced on Xbox One and as a timed exclusive on the Epic Games Store.
I don’t know about the rest of the jokers that work for this website, but for my money, Outer Wilds is the best thing I’ve played this year. The only game on my radar that might be powerful enough to dethrone it is Death Stranding, which is extremely welcome to try.