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outer wilds

Parents need to know that “Outer Wilds” is a downloadable sci-fi exploration adventure game for Xbox One and Windows-based PCs. Players explore a star system, stuck in a time loop, uncovering clues to the situation and also using knowledge from previous loops to extend their exploration in later attempts. Gameplay’s relatively straightforward, but certain aspects, particularly flying, require extra practice and coordination. There’s little in the way of violence or blood, though the nature of the story means that the player will die frequently and start over without anything graphic or gory being shown.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Welcome to the wonderful trippy world of time travel. In “Outer Worlds,” you’re an explorer, an astronaut from a world that values exploration and knowledge. Your home’s a peaceful planet full of possibilities … right up until a supernova wipes everything from existence. But that’s not the end of your story. In fact, it’s just the beginning. Somehow, you wake up 20 minutes before the annihilation and with all of your memories leading up to it intact. Caught in this strange and inevitable time loop, it’s up to you to set out on a mission of discovery, using knowledge from your past loops to expand your influence on future ones.

IS IT ANY GOOD?

If you had it to do all over again, knowing now what you knew then, what changes would you make and how far could you go? That’s the premise behind “Outer Wilds,” the quirky open world space exploration title that brings new meaning to the phrase “speed run.” With just 20-odd minutes before your solar system’s sun goes supernova, you’re constantly hard pressed to accomplish as much as possible in a limited amount of time. Luckily, the solar system isn’t all that big, spatially speaking, so making the jump from one planet to the next takes only a couple of minutes or so. Which is a good thing, considering just how little time you’ve got to discover something new before everything you know gets roasted in the ever-looming cosmic deep fryer.

It’s best not to worry too much about that greater catastrophe, though, as the game constantly dishes out new ways for you to die, restarting the doomsday clock once again for another pass. It’s easy to misjudge a jump, overstay your oxygen supply, or even find yourself jettisoned into the abyss of a nearby black hole. Admittedly, this can get a bit frustrating as the nature of the time loop is basically the definition of “repetitive gameplay.” But what makes “Outer Wilds” so unique is that, even in failure, there are lessons to be learned and progress to be made.

RATING AND CONTENT

Recommended for ages 12 and older

Quality: 4 out of 5

Positive messages: 3 out of 5

Positive role models: 2 out of 5

Ease of play: 3 out of 5

Violence: 2 out of 5

Sex: 0 out of 5

Language: 0 out of 5

Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 0 out of 5

Consumerism: 0 out of 5

GAME DETAILS

Platforms: Windows, Xbox One

Price: $24.99

Developer: Annapurna Interactive

Release date: May 30, 2019

Genre: Adventure

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