Uh oh, Yuri-n trouble
There’s never been a better time to be a fan of platformers. They are, sometimes quite literally, ten-a-penny on Steam. With an abundance of fantastic platforming titles from developers big and small, you’d be forgiven for never having heard of Out There Somewhere. Even now, you might be tempted to ignore it. But I’m here to tell you that you’d be making a mistake.
Out There Somewhere is a 2D puzzle-platformer with a rather unique teleportation mechanic. The game’s protagonist, Yuri, possesses a gun capable of teleporting him across the world, but it has certain limitations. Yuri can only shoot left or right – not up, down, or diagonally – and he can only teleport to where there is a vertical surface for the bullet to hit. Your task is to guide space pilot Yuri across the alien planet he’s crash-landed on and recover vital parts to repair his damaged ship.
One of the first things that struck me about Out There Somewhere is the level of polish applied to every detail. The distinctive 16-bit artwork and accompanying pulsing soundtrack are instantly memorable and lend to an atmosphere evocative of Sega Megadrive games. Gameplay is fast and smooth, and controlling Yuri is fun and easy.
Taking inspiration from metroidvania greats Super Metroid and Cave Story, Out There Somewhere is structured in a similar way. Each new screen presents a new self-contained puzzle, where the objective is simply to reach the exit, be that a door or one of the edges of the screen. Solving puzzles requires overcoming various challenges; from seemingly insurmountable walls to deadly environmental hazards to hostile creatures. Along the way, you’ll also meet the sometimes friendly and sometimes rather unhelpful natives, including a cameo from Jon Snow:
Through careful puzzle design, the game introduces a surprising amount of depth to the simple teleportation mechanic. Coloured laser beam-like devices manipulate the teleport bullet in various ways: for example, blue lasers serve as a vertical surface for the bullet to hit, green lasers transport the bullet to horizontal surfaces, and red lasers annul the bullet completely.
In addition to all of this, any movement taken immediately before teleporting is continued after teleporting, meaning clever use of momentum is required to overcome some of the game’s trickier challenges. Eventually, the game also gives you a regular gun, which comes in handy when removing patrolling enemies from the equation in some puzzles.
The meat of the game is sandwiched by brief shoot-em-up sections and cut scenes, which provide a prologue and an epilogue for the simple story.
One aspect of Out There Somewhere that could make or break your decision to buy is its rather short length. I like to be thorough with video games – particularly metroidvanias. But my playtime didn’t exceed two hours. In fact, it’s clear the developers intended for this game to be completed quickly – completing it in less than twenty minutes will net you an achievement. However, just as my girlfriend assures me, time taken to finish is not important as long as the experience is fulfilling, and I’d venture that you won’t find a more memorable experience in a game twice as long as this. And if you’re still not convinced, at the time of writing the game is available to buy for just £0.79 on Steam.
Overall, Out There Somewhere is a remarkably charming and creative game that achieves a lot with very little. Don’t miss it!