Outward Review

April 4, 2019

Every now and then we get a chance to review something unique, games that stand out from the rest and are not what you would expect. Outward is one such game; an outlandishly strenuous survival RPG that beckons you to play it but shows no gratuities. Nine Dots Studio’s main goal is to develop games for various niche markets, what some might call untapped ideas that have been passed up by the larger development studios for the simple reason that it might not be popular. Their third game Outward uses several hardcore survival institutions that separates it from the Elder Scrolls and the Witcher games, as it attempts to slot in to a corner of the RPG market that’s yet to be filled.

Outward is a survival RPG that takes no prisoners; or technically it most certainly does. You will die – a lot. You will starve, you will bleed, you will freeze, and when you respawn you won’t know where you are and you will probably die again. This is how many adventurers start their journey in Outward as soon as they have left the gates of the starter city Cierzo, and this is why Outward is very different to your typical AAA top shelf purchase.

Outward Review

At the start of the game you wake up with a debt to pay. You have a few days to gather 150 silver, and so outward you head to make some coin. The game explains a lot of its features in the starter city including how to survive on the necessary food and water, staying warm, not venturing too far in the night, and it even gives you a few starter weapons to try out before facing your first enemy. What it doesn’t tell you is how big the world is and how many of your adventures will be cut short by death if you are not careful.

There are a lot of useful items to pick up in Cierzo including a lantern and a backpack. You can actually attach the lantern to your backpack so that you don’t have to carry it, which was a very nice feature, but it isn’t going to always be the best option. In Outward, backpacks play a pivotal role in your gameplay, and just like in real life if you’re carrying a heavy backpack then you’re going to be at a severe disadvantage in combat. The game gives you the option of dropping your backpack on the ground at any stage which is a useful technique to get an head-start on your enemies, and luckily Nine Dots was kind enough to put a marker on it so you can locate it via your compass if you forget where you dropped it.

While the world feels quite empty, there are plenty of creatures lurking, waiting for you to fall in to their trap. The developers have said the low population world is to encourage players to enter dungeons and seek out more rewarding loot, and the loot in Outward can be quite varying. We’ve seen a decent range of weapon types early in the game, and typically as you progress to the endgame content you’re going to see some beastly RPG weapons such as glowing axes and obsidian pistols. The best weapons in the game are usually found in dungeons but can also be found from rare vendors that you can unlock.

Outward Review

Basic professions are in Outward such as fishing, cooking and mining, and are a good way to build that much needed silver as well as grabbing a bite to eat. Outward is a game of maintenance and if you’re not careful you will get caught out. As you progress through the game, new skills unlock which make things a lot easier such as cumbersome perks for your backpack and gear, so it’s important to take things slow and carefully at first, and ensure that you’ve got the combat sorted out if you want to have a successful play-through.

One of Outward’s biggest downfalls is its combat mechanics. It’s incredibly simple to the point of players being able to use some very cheap tactics to plough through the game. The health bars and other stat bars are all pretty basic, and overall, it’s one area of the game where you can really tell that there hasn’t been much money thrown at it. With the use of tools and traps, combat gets a little bit more elaborate, but it still feels incredibly basic to a point of playing more like a game still in its alpha testing period. Where the combat shines is in its magic and using alchemy to create different magic sigils and plan out your next attack actually felt somewhat realistic in a fantasy kind of way.

Outward Review

Outward’s other biggest downfall is in the graphics department. Skyrim came out in 2011 and looks leaps and bounds better than Outward. It’s disappointing that the developers didn’t put a bit more time in to making this huge survival RPG world better to look at. From character models to weapons, armour and most importantly (to us) the environment, the game looks agonisingly unremarkable. Its one saving grace is the different biomes look and behave as they should, and this really adds to the survival elements as you venture far from the cities and must rely on what’s in your backpack just to survive a night period.

There’s a lot of talk about Nine Dots having a vision and fans being glad that Outward isn’t some “shallow AAA game” to which we would like to know which AAA games they are talking about? Skyrim and The Witcher 3 are both absolutely stunning AAA games that Outward simply can’t put itself in the same league as. We’re just not sure what all the fuss is about with this game being called better than AAA RPG’s by some fans and critics. While it has many unique features, not to mention the drop-in drop-out split-screen co-op, Outward is far from perfect. Expect anywhere from 40 to 80 hours to complete the main campaign, though it will take multiple play-throughs to get the most out of the game. We do look forward to see whether Nine Dots visits this IP again though, as all great RPG franchises start somewhere.

Outward is available on Windows PC via Steam and will release on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on April 24, 2019.


- Lots of ideas we’ve all wished were in RPGs have been brought to fruition
- Some fun weapons once you work out how to not die
- Drop-in drop-out co-op!


- Very tough for the impatient gamer
- The graphics look more 2009 than 2019.

Overall Score: