Out of Line Review

Out of Line is utterly excellent. It is the exact type of indie game I love to stumble across; wonderful visuals and audio, a simple gameplay concept that gets used in creative ways but doesn’t over-egg things trying to be too clever, and it can be played fully in an afternoon. The Xbox release comes later this summer, but I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it – thankfully I was granted access to the Steam version to get a taste. 3 hours later and I’m sitting here having been absolutely glued to it from start to finish.

Much in the style of Playdead’s titles, Out of Line is all about immersing the player in the world. There’s no dialogue at all here; instead, the story is written in the world detail, leaving it up to the player to discover and put together. In all honesty this aspect of the game does very little for me – I do enjoy this more ambiguous style at times, but never more than a easily followed tale – so it’s a good thing that the gameplay more than backs it up.

As I said at the top, Out of Line picks a single gameplay element to focus on, and uses it in creative ways throughout. Our only options are to run, jump, and use our spear in a handful of ways: throwing it, jumping off of it, or using it as a lever. It’s a little more nuanced than that, but each puzzle gives a different spin on one or more of these uses. For example, one might have us quickly flinging it into walls to use as makeshift ledges in succession, while in another we use it to stop gears from turning at a specific point. Both examples are us throwing it, but for different end goals.

Hatinh are smart to not over use ideas though. While there certainly is some repetition in a sequence of puzzles, they up the ante in clever ways before moving onto something else entirely before it becomes stale or repetitive. And they wisely resist the temptation to keep adding in extra elements that could have otherwise slowed the pace or over complicated things. A handful of chase sequences have clearly learnt from titles like Inside, the pursuers threatening to close in constantly yet we’re always given a saving grace at just the right time. There’s no combat either, despite an AI companion seemingly teasing it coming at some point. This lets us focus on the puzzles alone, and it’s all the better for it. As it is, Out of Line is almost perfectly paced, and even the one or two tricky puzzles were only mild stumbling blocks in my constant movement forward.

In fact, my only real point of contention were a couple of bugs that occurred in my playthrough. Two puzzles were rendered incompletable thanks to this until I reloaded a save point. Gracefully these are frequent, and the issue only occurred once on each section. That didn’t stop me from trying all options before figuring out it was broken, mind you. But these are minor points of contention in an otherwise superb title.

Conclusion

Out of Line, in my eyes, could stand alongside the likes of Limbo and Inside such is its brilliance. Hatinh make smart use of simple yet clever mechanics to constantly engage the player, while never resorting to needless extra bits and pieces to pad things out, simply bringing us fun, elegant puzzle platforming action. Absolutely excellent, and an afternoon well spent playing.

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This game was tested and reviewed on PC (via Steam). All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Clever use of simple mechanics
  • Lovely visuals and audio
  • Never outstays its welcome, be it in puzzle design or overall length
Bad
  • A couple of bugs throughout my playtime
9.1
Excellent
Gameplay - 9.3
Graphics - 9.2
Audio - 9
Longevity - 9
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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