Metroid Fusion comes to mind when thinking of the exploration genre, and the latest addition to the Nintendo Switch is Outbuddies DX. Published by Headup Games, this is another awesome indie game created by one person! Julian Laufer is the mastermind behind Outbuddies DX that was successfully kickstarted with a very reasonable price tag of $5,400. If that does not impress you then you would be amazed at the incredibly high prices I’ve seen on the platform over the years. In addition to the Nintendo console, the game is available on PC, Xbox One, and in the future PlayStation 4.
Outbuddies is best described as dark and grungy.
It feels like it has some of that throwback 90’s gross appeal of Nickelodeon. Dark and gritty shades of blue and purple colour the tunnels and groundwork with bright neon contrasting shots from our protagonist. With a bit of game time, my eyes have adjusted to the art style, which is vastly different from games I’m used to playing. It’s not that I have any particular art style of preference but that Outbuddies is more unique than games I’ve recently played.
Paired with the look of the game comes the music and background ambient sounds.
We are making our way through a map of tunnels and teleportation orbs, traversing both land and sea. A haunting track may be playing in the background but the player will notice the sounds of nearby waterfalls trickling down. Feelings of despair are always present and each large enemy we find can be a bit of a scare. Music increases in intensity and don’t be surprised if you get caught off guard as I did multiple times and slip under enemy fire.
The – pause menu will show future items to be unlocked, achievements, and progress in the game. The + menu will reveal the map with icons explained on the bottom of the screen, including time played, deaths, map percentage explored, and collectables. I don’t think I will be unlocking the ‘beat the game in 7 hours’ achievement anytime soon.
Let’s cover the basics of movement.
Our main character can run, shoot, and wall jump from an early stage of the game and will certainly have many upgrades including the infamous bomb to be laid in every nook in search of secrets. Wall jumping feels a bit awkward and could be tightened up, as well as turning to shoot when stuck walls when climbing. A secondary character in-game is our floating buddy that can be controlled to scan the area for enemies and items, as well as moving objects for puzzles. Puzzles may utilise the buddy to move big blocks that are in the surrounding area on to platforms that will reveal the next. I liked those puzzles as they were intuitive but controlling the buddy and object can feel awkward. I dropped blocks and spun them around violently more than a few times.
I don’t enjoy how the gameplay area zooms in and out depending on the area, as it can feel like you must slow down and take a cautious approach to each progressing area. This makes me constantly shoot regardless of enemies being near or far. Getting hit by an enemy shot triggers an awful sound and will temporarily paralyse our character. Being swarmed by a group of fish can be punishing so remember to use that boost to avoid these terrorising flocks. Combat overall feels hindered by the controls but they get easier to use the more you play. Learning enemy attack patterns and taking them down in future encounters is satisfying. BOSS BATTLES feel like a treat that gameplay was leading up to from every previous area. Utilise all of your abilities to duck and dodge fire while peppering in some shots.
I took on Outbuddies DX as a challenge to myself to get into the Metroid genre, and a challenge it was indeed. I’m not the best at the back and forth genre so any fault I had with the game in that respect doesn’t go against the game. It’s an interesting game made lovingly by a single developer that has already got people talking on my Twitter timeline. Outbuddies DX is a game that keeps drawing me back in as I continue to spend time in the world created and is easy to recommend to all my Metroid loving friends.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 05/06/2020
No. of Players: 1-2
Category: Action, Platformer, Puzzle
Developer: Julian Laufer
Publisher: Headup Games
Download link: eShop