Outer Wilds is a Game of the Year contender

This year’s front runners for Game of the Year are by and large pretty obvious.  Of those that have released so far we have the excellently remade Resident Evil 2, From Software’s latest epic, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and then there’s Respawn’s free-to-play Apex Legends that wowed everyone during its opening few weeks.  Looking forward to the year’s end and Kojima’s Death Stranding, Pokemon Sword and Shield and even Gears 5 are likely to be in the conversation.

There’s a game that’s missing though.  A game that for many, has come out of nowhere to establish itself firmly in many people’s top fives for the year or even, Game of the Year, despite only being half-way through.  That game, is Outer Wilds.

While the Pause Resume 2019 Game of the Year will no doubt be a hotly contested debate as it was last year, Outer Wilds will be one that will stick with me until the end.  For those who aren’t aware, Outer Wilds gives you twenty minutes to explore a vast solar system that contains, mystery, intrigue and questions at every turn. What happens after twenty minutes?  The sun explodes and all life within the solar system ceases to exist, thankfully, you’re reset back on your home planet of Timber Hearth with all your memories intact and can start again.

Outer Wilds doesn’t show you where to go or hold your hand at any point.  It jots down minimal information from the discoveries you make but lets you find specific locations and areas to explore – it knows how to entice you to find one more thing, try one more location or collect one more thought.  Outer Wilds is a game that fulfils your desire to discover, even if you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for.

It’s gentle and soft soundtrack is also a delight to listen to as you travel through the cosmos on your own, with the end of one of your loops brought to a close from a wonderful and emotional musical interlude that helps you to accept death.  Its light tones indicate that the expanding sun is close to consuming everything but with an acceptance that that’s ok.

It’s a solar system where most areas feel used.  Every step you take feels like someone has been there before and you’re retracing the footsteps of time to try and make sense of it all.  We won’t spoil the general goal of the game but it’s not like a normal open world where areas are left barren just to boast about its size.  Outer Wilds total area to explore if stitched together isn’t gigantic but what is here has been designed with care and attention – which is far more important.

If you haven’t already tried Outer Wilds, then I implore you to do so.  While we don’t have a full review on the site due to time commitments, there’s no doubt that when it comes to our end of the year deliberations, Outer Wilds will be well in contention.