I’m really disappointed in this game, but it’s my own fault for not looking into just what, exactly, the game even was before buying it. Part of the problem is that every positive comment for Outer Wilds says, “Don’t read anything about the game. Just go in blind!” It’s like everyone collectively agreed not to spoil the main gameplay mechanic that basically determines if you’re gonna like the game at all. I don’t even know why it’s a spoiler, because it’s essentially the inciting incident. (Insert spoiler tag, anyway.) So… there’s a time loop. Every 22 minutes, the universe explodes, and you start over. Your goal, then, is to figure out why by looking for clues on various planets. In theory, it’s a cool premise, but the execution makes the game feel more roguelike than I would have preferred. You might not even realize there’s a time loop at first because of how easy it is to die in general.
There’s no combat in Outer Wilds, but you can still run out of oxygen, fall to your death, get killed by ghost matter, etc. Several of my deaths were the result of me getting flung into space by a tornado or something similar, with no hope of getting back to my ship. That can get pretty frustrating when you’ve been trying to wait out the time loop, since key locations can’t be explored until near the end of the cycle. The constant threat of death is exacerbated by the controls. Whether you’re trying to land your ship on a planet’s surface or jetpack through underground caves, you’re always one bump or thrust away from completely messing up your current loop run. I get that these are supposed to be super realistic space physics, though, so maybe I’m just not smart enough to appreciate them. But I also don’t play video games for realistic physics and don’t have the patience to “git gud” at a game that doesn’t really respect the player’s time.