Out of Line is a game that will strike you with its visuals, and leave you clueless with its plot. Aren't all puzzle platformers like that nowadays? We tried Nerd Monkey's new game, and here's what we have to say about this eye-catching title and its gloomy story!
Exploring a Dismal Yet Mesmerizing World
The first thing we need to say about this game is that Out of Line was not what we were expecting, and it's not even a bad thing. At first, we imagined it being a picturesque adventure where you save the town from some evil monsters, but soon we realized we were part of a dystopic world where machines were enslaving people and killing all kinds of lifeforms. This dark approach strongly contrasts the art style, although it will only take you a few minutes to get engulfed into Out of Line's colorful yet distressing atmosphere.
Apparently We Need to Save This Tree?
Not all puzzle games have—or need—a story, we know that, but Out of Line never cares about you understanding its plot or not; it just follows the 'show, never tell' formula and puts all the narrative weight on its untalkative characters and fantastic use of environmental storytelling. Some players won't like this approach, and that's perfectly understandable considering how many indie games play the 'I'm being mysterious here, so please finish my own story in your head' card, but it's not like you can't get the basic idea behind it.
Thanks to a mysterious golden cube, Out of Line's protagonist is one of the few people who could escape from the enslaving machines, and now they must help the few survivors in their way as they try to flee from wherever they live. In terms of gameplay, the protagonist also needs to find memory cubes hidden in some stages and bring them to a dying tree, but this is one of the things the game's not clear enough about. Out of Line pays more attention to the atmosphere than the context, so discovering what's this all about is one of the things that will keep you going.
Now You're Thinking With Spears...
All puzzles in this game involve the use of your trusty spear—you can throw it and call it back as Thor does with his hammer—and several other spears you'll find in specific places. Throwing your spear against a wall will create a platform to help you jump and reach higher places, but if you launch it at gear mechanisms and buttons you can open doors or deactivate traps, for example. Unlike the golden one, the extra spears you find are time-sensitive and will only last a few seconds before returning to their original place, so not only do you need to think, but many times you need to think fast.
For what it's worth, Out of Line is a short—maybe too short—adventure, but it's an engaging puzzle platformer nonetheless. The only downside is how cryptic its narrative is, but that ultimately depends on your own taste.
Do we really need to understand everything happening around us when we play a game, or do we like to be the ones giving our own interpretations? Such an interesting debate! For another day, though...
Out of Line is currently available on PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.