I wasn’t familiar with Out of Line before I booted up the preview version of the game, which, full disclaimer: I played on PC, because that’s all that was available. I didn’t know what to expect other than what the PR line had said; a puzzle platformer with hand-drawn graphics, and that it’s coming to PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC this summer.
So, what is Out of Line? I didn’t dig any deeper before playing so I was thrown in and I learned on the job, so to speak.
First things first, Out of Line is a trippy looking game. The visual makeup of the game, with its strong strokes and muddled colours, it reminded me a little of one of my favourite childhood books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. OK, I confess. It’s still in my top five… He’s still hungry!
I only played the first level but it has left an impression on me, and a good one at that. The opening starts slowly with the controls being introduced and the world kind of being set up. The setting is vague and I’m still not entirely sure what’s what, but San, the character you play as, seems to be trying to escape from wherever he is. The problem he has is that giant War of the Worlds-style arms are on the prowl and if they spot you, you’re done.
You have no means of fighting back, even with the golden spear you’re given early on. Instead of being a weapon, the spear is a tool. You can throw it at a platform that’s just a little bit too far off, giving you the landing space you need. Or, as the game progresses, it can be used in more puzzling ways, like jamming the mechanism of a crushing block so that you can pass through safely. What I really like, beyond all else, was the slick animation of the spear returning to San’s hands afterwards, and knowing that it was all hand-drawn makes it all the more impressive.
So far, the puzzles haven’t been too much for, though as I said, I’ve only done the first level. I did come across one section that had me stumped until I had my “aha!” moment. I could use my spear as a lever to move a platform, and one of my identical buddies was stood upon it. I moved him from one side to the other, eas peasy. But what about me? How would I get across? I twiddled for a minute and then I realised the platforms in front of me, all adorned with deadly spikes, moved as I moved the platform below. I paid a tiny bit more attention and noticed the platform had a gear on the bottom of it and it was rubbing against gears at the bottom of the screen. Moving the platform to the right position and turning the spikes upside down gave me a path forward. A few hops and I was on my way.
This is what sold me on the Out Line. We’ve all played puzzle-platformers and they’ve all got their gimmicks, and in this case, the gimmick is a golden spear. But, the gimmick didn’t get me, the puzzles did and that bodes well for the rest of the game. I’m looking to seeing how the puzzles evolve and what comes next for little San. What about his mates? What about the (not) War of the Worlds arms? We’ll see when Out of Line releases this summer on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Disclaimer: This preview was carried out using a preview build of the game provided by the publisher.