Ramblings: Outline

Truth be told, part of the reason why I started this blog is so that I have an excuse to play through things I’ve been sitting on. Everyone remember when a bunch of people got together on itch.io to make a big bundle of games with the profits to be donated to the ACLU? I bought into that, but I haven’t really had the time to play any of the stuff in it (besides the stuff I already own). So, I’ve decided to finally dive right in, starting with Outline.

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Outline is a game by Daniel Linssen, also known as Managore. It’s a nice platformer where you control an eraser that erases the world behind it as it bounces around 50 levels.

The visuals are one-bit, the edges of everything slightly rippling to feel more animated. If you’re not a fan of black and white, there are a bunch of alternate palettes to use. The main gimmick of the game is that the eraser you’re playing as erases the visuals of the environment as it moves around. The erased trail shows the previous level as if the current level was just built on top of it, including any message boxes that you activated in the previous level. It’s a weird experience, but it’s a neat visual effect. The eraser’s jumps and landings sort of creates this sort of splash in its erasing power, giving a visual impact to its movements.

The game controls pretty well, so I can never really say any of my deaths is the game’s fault. You get your standard jumping around, but you also get wall jumps and the ability to hold onto ledges. Getting through the game is basically just, getting good at the mechanics. The game’s levels all feel distinct from each other with increasing difficulty, so there’s a healthy amount of challenge, but I wouldn’t say that it’s Meat Boy levels of hard, which I’d say is a good thing. There’s only one music track in the game, but it’s pretty calming and helps balance out the frustration.

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Outline‘s world is populated with message boxes that gives out dialogue as you pass by. At first they act as tutorials, but they continue to persist through the game as NPCs, rambling about a level’s gimmick or just giving flavor text. There’s no real narrative to speak of, which is even joked about by a box in level 40 – the boxes just kinda give more character to the game. Also suns. The game is also populated with Angry Sun-type suns that’s the only living obstacle in the game, who try to kill you either by rushing you down (leaving a disorienting trail of their own) or shooting at you.

At the 40th level, you’re actually greeted with a roadblock and you need to type in a code to continue on. As it happens, meeting some of the more out of the way blocks actually is important, as they give digits to this code. You can easily go back to past levels to seek out those digits, which each have different conditions to being revealed. I think that it’s a neat idea, though I can see somebody that just wants to breeze through a game being annoyed at this sudden roadblock. Appropriately the last levels are the most challenging. Except for 45, which is actually just plain bullshit – invisible mazes just aren’t fun.

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Really, there isn’t much to say or think about for Outline. It’s a short, moderately challenging platformer that looks pretty nice for what it does. I got this in a bundle, but the game itself is $3 and it’d be worth it if you just want a good platformer to play through. There’s a timer function in the game, so maybe you can challenge yourself with speedruns.

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