Out of Line
Developer: Nerd Monkeys
Publisher: Hatinh Interactive
Genre(s): Adventure, Puzzle, Platformer, Action
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on Xbox and PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 07/07/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Out of Line is a puzzle action-adventure title following a creature on a journey to save their world from evil robots. Along the way, I met meaningful friends, interacted with the world around me, and helped preserve the world’s beauty despite all the chaos. Did my efforts to maintain natural beauty pay off? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Storytelling without Words
As I began my adventure, I was thrown into a vibrant world where warm colours represent the good of the world and dark colours represent evil. Even without explicitly detailing the plot, there were brief cutscenes and purposely placed backgrounds that detailed exactly what was going on. The lack of words ended up immersing me further into Out of Line, as I could interpret the story as I pleased. I often wondered how close characters felt, or whether there was any connection between characters that barely interacted.
At the same time, since I was given so much freedom, the animations rarely matched the emotion I would have wanted the character to feel. My main character seemed a bit too apathetic towards the massive slaughter of his kin. Even after performing heroic feats or narrowly evading tricky situations, the main character did not look pleased. Throughout the game, the main character retained one facial expression, and it prevented me from getting largely attached to him. My character seemed like just another character in the world, not the main character.
Still, the scenery and worldbuilding featured in Out of Line make the world realistic, even if my character fails to react to it. Though this title is not a game I would recommend for the story, the details added to the world made the game more fulfilling.
Puzzling and Platforming
The story elements supplemented the puzzles in Out of Line. Each level focuses on navigating my character from one place to another. It was two dimensional, but each section seamlessly flowed from one to the other. It was easy for me to follow exactly what was going on.
Even though this was good in terms of navigation, the puzzles were also very easy. Throughout the game, it was always apparent how to solve each puzzle even without spending much time analyzing it. Unfortunately, this made exploration less rewarding. Instead of feeling satisfied that I was able to surpass an obstacle, each puzzle felt meaningless. Despite feeling disappointed by some of the puzzles, Out of Line does feature a balanced difficulty curve. It follows a great pattern. I was introduced to new ideas, they were expanded, and the formula was repeated. I was especially impressed by how cohesive all the game objects were. Despite their varying functions, the assets in Out of Line all made sense and worked well together. Sure, the puzzles did not challenge me as much as I hoped, but the puzzles were well thought out and related to the environment nicely.
Teamwork in a Single Player Game?
The puzzles were further expanded by the various characters I met along the way. I needed to cooperate with them and focus on how things would impact their success as well as mine. It was interesting seeing how my actions impacted the world around me, and I enjoyed seeing how each character would be implemented when solving various puzzles. Unfortunately, the characters were clearly less important than my main character. Sure, they would perform their tasks, but the side characters never felt dynamic or as though they had a brain. Regardless, it was more interesting than completing the puzzles alone. It was cool to utilize the strengths of the various characters I met throughout the journey.
Though I collaborated with other creatures, my main character in Out of Line was by no means a pushover. I wielded a spear but never used it as a weapon. I threw it to hit buttons, used it as a platform, and got it caught in gears. Then, when I wanted it back, I could summon it like Thor’s hammer. Using the spear worked well for puzzle solving, as it prevented me from walking extremely long distances to interact with objects. However, though I liked the use of the spear to make platforms, much like Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World, it got a bit tedious to use a time-consuming action for basic movement. However, the developers made this more interesting, as sometimes I needed to perform high jumps with an enemy chasing me. Overall, the movement was crisp and precise. It made exploration fun, though sometimes it was tedious.
Hear the Scream of the Metal
To complete the package, the developers included a soundtrack to make the world seem peaceful. Yet they included grating sounds of the robots screeching to starkly contrast the peace of nature. It certainly had a strong effect, but it ended up making the sound design unappealing. Of course, that is the point, but I found it was more annoying than moving. Moreover, the soundtrack would sometimes stutter, as though it was not being played properly. There may be some issues with the soundtrack.
It is more than likely due to some dropped frames. Throughout the game, I had some minor issues with the performance. There were no major drops or crashes, but it was noticeable. It did not largely impede my experience though, and the game is still playable.
Spear Me the Details
Overall, Out of Line has a lot of good qualities. It features an intriguing environment and plenty of characters for me to look at. However, the puzzles rarely tested me, and though the movement was precise, there were times where it felt tedious instead of rewarding to complete certain puzzles. Still, the game has a lot of great moments, especially towards the end.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can purchase Out of Line from the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.