|System: Xbox 360|
|Release: April 27, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Fantasy Violence|
The beef of the game is the single-player campaign. As I said before, it's a Metroid-style platformer, so you will be doing a lot of backtracking and exploring with your new abilities. However, if you lose track of where you are supposed to go next, you can open up your map to see your destination or follow swarms of glowing butterflies that will always lead you in the right direction. If you aren't into the whole adventure thing, you can also play specific rooms of the single-player campaign in the arcade mode. This mode tracks your score and time and allows you to compare your results to others on the game's leaderboards.
You can also team up with a buddy and play through the game in co-op mode, but all this does is insert a second main character into your campaign. There's no real story to support it, and the game actually becomes a great deal harder with a second player gunking up the works. Still, it's fun to go through the game with a buddy, if only because you get to play in the co-op exclusive challenge rooms. These rooms feature puzzles that need to be solved with two players. For example, there is a corridor with turrets on both sides that shoot the bullets the opposite colors of the players. One side shoots the opposite color of player one, and the other shoots the opposite color of player two. By working together you can successfully manage bullet color and immunity and get through the corridor unfazed. The rest of the challenge rooms are much the same, containing specific challenges that require teamwork to overcome. Your reward is cash that you can spend in the single-player campaign.
I only have two complaints about Outland. While they are pretty big ones, they're not necessarily game-breakers. First of all, I take serious issue with the game's bosses. Every boss is humongous, epic, and has multiple stages. Normally, that would be a good thing. However, each stage of the boss fight feels like a boss in itself. Dying at a later stage of a boss fight causes you to do the whole thing all over again, which is infuriating.
For example, the second boss is a floating priestess that brings down rubble and fires projectiles at you from the sides of the screen. You dodge this rubble, duck under platforms, and strike at the boss several times before she brings the whole house down. You must jump from platform to platform as you fall toward your doom. If you can survive that part, you must then jump across the stage to reach the priestess while demonic hands attempt to crush you and your platform from below. After you strike her some more, the priestess starts firing laser beams from the bottom of the screen, and then starts teleporting around the screen. If that's not quite bad enough, the platforms start falling more quickly. Throughout this entire boss fight you can only take five hits. If you fall at the wrong time or make one wrong move, you have to start the whole thing over again.
My other problem with the game is its length. Even with all the repetitive dying, the game only takes about seven hours to beat. It's so good, but you really want more in the end, and going back to collect hidden artwork or missed power-ups doesn't give the game a whole lot of replay value.
In the end, I have to say that Outland does just about everything with the 2D platformer genre I could ask for. It's innovative, nostalgic, and simply just fun. From story to gameplay, Outland is one of the better downloadable games on the market today. It's well worth the ten-dollar price tag. Outland manages to combine gameplay elements of Ikaruga, Metroid, Ico, Castlevania, and Limbo. That's like five games in one!
Angelo M. D’Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer