Outer Wilds

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Outer Wilds
Outer Wilds Steam artwork.jpg
Developer(s)Mobius Digital
Publisher(s)Annapurna Interactive
Director(s)Alex Beachum
  • Masi Oka
  • Loan Verneau
  • Avimaan Syam
  • Sarah Scialli
  • Alex Beachum
  • Loan Verneau
  • Logan ver Hoef
  • Jeffrey Yu
Artist(s)Wesley Martin
Writer(s)Kelsey Beachum
Composer(s)Andrew Prahlow
May 28, 2019
  • Windows
  • May 28, 2019
  • Xbox One
  • May 29, 2019
  • PlayStation 4
  • October 15, 2019
  • PS5, Xbox Series X/S
  • September 15, 2022
  • Nintendo Switch
  • TBD

Outer Wilds is a 2019 action-adventure game developed by Mobius Digital and published by Annapurna Interactive. It first released for Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 before releasing for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S in 2022. A Nintendo Switch version is also under development. The game features the player character exploring a solar system stuck in a 22-minute time loop that ends with the sun going supernova.

The player progresses through Outer Wilds by exploring the solar system and learning clues to the cause of the time loop. Outer Wilds received critical acclaim and several Game of the Year awards, including at the 16th British Academy Games Awards. The game received an expansion, Echoes of the Eye, in 2021.


Outer Wilds features an unnamed player character exploring a solar system that is stuck in a time loop, going back 22 minutes before its star goes supernova.[1] Thus, the player is encouraged to learn why by exploring and uncovering secrets of an extinct race known as the Nomai, who previously colonized the solar system hundreds of thousands of years ago.[2] In the first part of the game, the player links with an ancient Nomai statue which ensures that the player retains information discovered in each time loop when it restarts. For example, in order to use the ship, the player must get the launch codes from colleagues at the local observatory. These codes, and the knowledge of them, are the same across subsequent loops, allowing the player to immediately launch the ship without first visiting the observatory.[3]

The central premise of the game is exploration, with the player compelled to uncover the remains of the Nomai civilization to find the cause of the time loop and complete the game. All areas of the game are technically immediately accessible to the player upon acquiring the ship launch codes, however many areas are protected by logic puzzles which can often only be solved through learning more of the Nomai and speaking to fellow space explorers.

Some events and locations change during the course of the time loop, which means that areas and puzzles are often only accessible at certain times. One example is the paired Ash Twin and Ember Twin planets orbiting so close to each other that sand from Ash Twin is funneled over to cover Ember Twin during the loop. This process gradually reveals the secrets buried on Ash Twin while simultaneously making the Ember Twin cave system inaccessible later on in the time loop.[4][3]

The player character has health, fuel, and oxygen meters, which are replenished when the character returns to the ship or by finding trees or refills. The player has several tools, including a camera probe which can be launched long distances and a signalscope for locating broadcast signals. There are no equipment upgrades during the game.

After each death, whether the cause is the sun going supernova, or through misadventure — e.g. drowning, falling, exposure to space vacuum — the player respawns and awakens back on their home planet at the start of the time loop.[5][6]


The player takes the role of an unnamed space explorer preparing for their first solo flight. After being involuntarily paired with a statue on their home planet made by the Nomai, an ancient and mysterious race that had once colonized the system, the player discovers they are trapped in a time loop. Every loop resets when the sun goes supernova after 22 minutes, or when the player-character otherwise dies.

The player learns that the Nomai were obsessed with finding the "Eye of the Universe", a massive anomaly using macroscopic quantum mechanics that is older than the universe itself. Curious to find out what was held within the Eye, but having lost its signal, the Nomai built an orbital cannon to launch probes to visually find the Eye. The chance of visually finding the object with a random shot into space was infinitesimally small, so they also developed a device, the Ash Twin Project, to send the results of the probe's scan 22 minutes back in time, so that the cannon could be "reused" an infinite number of times. The amount of power required to go back in time was so high that the only viable way of obtaining it would be from a supernova, so they attempted to artificially induce the sun to explode, but were unsuccessful. The Nomai were wiped out by an extinction-level event after completing construction of these projects but before setting the time-loop process into motion. The system is now operating because the sun has naturally reached the end of its life cycle. The resulting supernova feeds power into the Ash Twin Project, conveying the player's memories back in time to their previous self and resetting the cannon for another scan.

Armed with this knowledge, the player is eventually able to recover the coordinates of the Eye and input them into a derelict Nomai interstellar vessel, warping to the Eye's location. They discover that their star is not the only one going supernova. All the stars in the sky have reached the end of their lifespans and the universe is about to end. Upon entering the Eye, the player encounters quantum versions of the various characters they had befriended in their travels, and working together, they create a Big Bang, giving rise to a new universe. The ending shows a similar solar system with new life forms 14.3 billion years after its creation.

Echoes of the Eye[edit]

The Echoes of the Eye expansion adds a new exhibit to the observatory at the beginning of the game, which shows off the deep space satellite used to generate the player's solar system map. The player soon discovers an object that eclipses the sun – a planet-sized rotating ship, hidden within a cloaking field. Within this ship, called "the Stranger", the player finds theaters and heavily damaged slide reels that tell the story of the Stranger's inhabitants, an extinct race of owl and elk-like creatures.

Similar to the Nomai, the inhabitants of the Stranger also came to the solar system after discovering the Eye of the Universe's signals, but gave up their quest after seeing that the Eye would destroy the universe and everything in it. After destroying their monuments to the Eye and constructing a device in order to block its signal from other extraterrestrial races, the inhabitants began to regret destroying their homeworld, which they stripped barren in order to build the Stranger. The inhabitants eventually created artifacts and areas where they could sleep in order to enter a virtual reality of their homeworld.

The player learns how to enter the simulation via the use of artifacts and discovers the active consciousness of the inhabitants who are hostile to the player. The player eventually finds archives with more detailed reels of the history of the Stranger's inhabitants, as well as a vault secured by three seals. Using information about glitches within the simulation learned from the archives, the player is eventually able to unlock the vault's three seals and open it, discovering a friendly inhabitant called the Prisoner. Communicating with the player via a telepathic projection staff, the Prisoner transmits a memory where they temporarily disabled the signal blocker surrounding the Eye, causing the other inhabitants to force the Prisoner within the vault, before returning to the simulation and dying in the physical world. The player then uses the staff to explain to the Prisoner how their actions eventually lead the Nomai to discover the signal of the Eye and enter the solar system, setting the events of the game in motion.

After learning that their actions were not in vain, the Prisoner exits the vault and leaves behind their staff, showing a vision of the Prisoner and player together on a raft, venturing along a river into the sunrise. If the player chooses to travel to the Eye of the Universe after having met with the Prisoner, they find a quantum version of the Prisoner who works with the player to create the new universe.


Concept art of the four travelers

Outer Wilds began as Alex Beachum's USC Interactive Media & Games Division master's thesis and grew into a full-production commercial release. He started the project in late 2012 for his yearlong thesis and "Advanced Game Project" assignment. Beachum had previously made a three-dimensional platformer out of Lego bricks as a kid, and was uninterested in a career in games until applying to the Interactive Media program.[5]

Beachum's original ideas were to recreate the Apollo 13 and 2001: A Space Odyssey "spirit of space exploration" in an uncontrollable environment, and to make an objective-less open world game where exploration would satiate the player's questions without feeling "aimless."[5] Beachum took cues from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker's non-player characters that would tell tales of distant lands as to entice the player to explore those areas for themselves.[5] The game heavily employs a camping motif, reflecting Beachum's personal interest in backpacking while also emphasizing that the player-character is far from their home and alone in this galaxy.[5] While journalists have compared Outer Wilds' time loop mechanics to that of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Beachum notes that these mechanics are used in Outer Wilds primarily "to allow the creation of large-scale dynamic systems" as opposed to "play[ing] around with causality" as in Majora's Mask.[5][6]

Artwork promoting the game in 2015, showing a logo that got replaced later in development.

The original development team members were University of Southern California, Laguna College of Art and Design, and Atlantic University College students.[5] Beachum's team started by working with "paper prototypes" and a "tabletop role-playing session" to brainstorm a narrative. The team built the game in the Unity3D game engine. They later wrote the game as a text adventure in Processing. After Beachum's graduation, the project hired members full-time to work towards a commercial release, with Beachum as creative director.[5] Japanese actor Masi Oka, who has had previous experience as a programmer and founded Mobius Digital to develop mobile games, had seen the demo of Outer Wilds during a demo day for the USC Interactive Media & Games groups. Oka saw the opportunity to expand his team and hired the entire team behind the game into his studio to help bring the title to development.[7] The game became the first title to be supported on the new video game-centric crowdfunding site, Fig, launched in August 2015.[7] An alpha release version of the game was made available for free on the developer's site in 2015.[8][6]

In March 2018, Mobius announced it had received funding support from publisher Annapurna Interactive, which bought out the investment and rights from Fig, and that it was planned for release in 2018.[9][10] Mobius later announced plans in June 2018 to also release the game for the Xbox One.[11] In December 2018, it was announced that the game's release would be delayed until 2019.[12] In exchange for additional financial support, Mobius announced that the game's initial release on PC users would be a timed-exclusive on the Epic Games Store. As it was originally announced that Fig backers would have received redemption keys on Steam for the game, some backers complained about the change; Linux users noted that as the Epic Games Store does not have a Linux-compatible front end, the change left them without any option.[13]

Outer Wilds was released on PC on May 28, 2019, and for Xbox One a day later.[14][15] A PlayStation 4 version was released on October 15, 2019, with a Steam release on June 18, 2020.[16][15][17] A PlayStation 4 retail version was released by Limited Run Games in 2020.[18] A Nintendo Switch port was originally set for a mid-2021 release,[19] before being delayed. An expansion, Echoes of the Eye, was released on September 28, 2021.[20] Performance update patches were released for the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 versions on September 15, 2022.[21]


Outer Wilds received "generally favorable" reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[22] At the 2015 Game Developers Conference-sponsored Independent Games Festival, Outer Wilds won in the Seumas McNally Grand Prize and Excellence in Design categories.[8] It was an honorable mention in the Excellence in Narrative and Nuovo Award categories.[34][6] The game was listed as one of the best games of 2019 by several publications,[35][36][37][38][39][40] and Edge, Polygon and Paste also featured it on their "best games of the decade" lists.[41][42][43]

Polygon's Colin Campbell praised the overall narrative and the game's meta-puzzles.[44] Brendan Caldwell, writing for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, enjoyed the environmental exploration and the game's writing, but criticized that running out of time during some puzzles felt like "an interruption".[45] Destructoid's Josh Tolentino appreciated the open ended nature of Outer Wilds' world and how it let the player make discoveries.[46]


Year Award Category Result Ref
2015 Independent Games Festival Awards Seumas McNally Grand Prize Won [8]
Excellence in Design Won
2018 Game Critics Awards Best Independent Game Nominated [47]
2019 Golden Joystick Awards Best Storytelling Nominated [48][49][50]
Best Visual Design Nominated
Best Indie Game Won
Best Audio Nominated
Xbox Game of the Year Nominated
Ultimate Game of the Year Nominated
The Game Awards 2019 Best Game Direction Nominated [51]
Best Independent Game Nominated
Fresh Indie Game (Mobius Digital) Nominated
2020 23rd Annual D.I.C.E. Awards Game of the Year Nominated [52]
Outstanding Achievement in Game Design Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Story Nominated
20th Game Developers Choice Awards Game of the Year Nominated [53]
Best Debut (Mobius Digital) Nominated
Best Design Nominated
Innovation Award Nominated
Best Narrative Nominated
SXSW Gaming Awards Excellence in Design Nominated [54]
Excellence in Musical Score Nominated
Excellence in Narrative Nominated
16th British Academy Games Awards Best Game Won [55][56]
Game Design Won
Music Nominated
Narrative Nominated
Original Property Won


  1. ^ Faulkner, Jason (May 29, 2019). "Outer Wilds Review: Out of this world". Game Revolution. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  2. ^ Walker, Austin (May 29, 2019). "'Outer Wilds' Is a Captivating Sci-Fi Mystery About the End of the World". Vice. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Hudson, Laura (March 18, 2015). "You have 20 minutes before the sun blows up". Boing Boing. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  4. ^ Caldwell, Brendan (May 29, 2019). "Wot I Think: Outer Wilds". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Cameron, Phill (January 27, 2015). "Road to the IGF: Alex Beachum's Outer Wilds". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d Warr, Philippa (March 5, 2015). "Lunching In Space With IGF Winner Outer Wilds". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on March 7, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Hall, Charlie (August 18, 2015). "What if Kickstarter let you profit from a game's success? Fig found a way, launches today". Polygon. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Savage, Phil (March 4, 2015). "Outer Wilds wins IGF grand prize". PC Gamer. Future Publishing. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  9. ^ Takahashi, Dean (March 15, 2018). "Outer Wilds is about backpacking in outer space". Venture Beat. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  10. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (March 16, 2018). "Fig turns a profit for some investors". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  11. ^ Singletary, Charles (June 6, 2018). "FPS Space Mystery Outer Wilds Coming To Xbox One At Launch". Shacknews. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  12. ^ Chalk, Andy (December 19, 2018). "Outer Wilds, the game of cosmic exploration and campfires, is delayed into 2019". PC Gamer. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  13. ^ Van Allen, Eric (May 13, 2019). "Outer Wilds Will Launch As Timed Epic Exclusive, And Backers Don't Seem Happy". USGamer. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  14. ^ Hyrb, Larry (May 29, 2019). "Outer Wilds Is Now Available For Xbox One". Microsoft. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  15. ^ a b Holt, Kris (May 20, 2019). "Space exploration indie 'Outer Wilds' hits Xbox One and PC May 30th". Engadget. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  16. ^ Romano, Sal (October 8, 2019). "Outer Wilds coming to PS4 on October 15". Gematsu. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  17. ^ O'Connor, Alice (March 24, 2020). "Outer Wilds blasts off on Steam in June". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  18. ^ "Limited Run #348: Outer Wilds (PS4) [PREORDER]". Limited Run Games. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  19. ^ "Everything Nintendo Just Announced In Their First Direct For 2021". Kotaku Australia. February 17, 2021. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  20. ^ Notis, Ari (July 29, 2021). "Big 2019 GOTY Contender Outer Wilds Is Getting DLC". Kotaku.
  21. ^ Wales, Matt (September 15, 2022). "Time loop adventure Outer Wilds just got an Xbox Series X/S and PS5 upgrade". Eurogamer. Retrieved September 15, 2022.
  22. ^ a b "Outer Wilds for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  23. ^ "Outer Wilds for Xbox One Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
  24. ^ "Outer Wilds for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  25. ^ "Outer Wilds". Edge. No. 334. Future. August 2019. pp. 116–117.
  26. ^ Epstein, Mike (May 31, 2019). "Outer Wilds Review". IGN. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  27. ^ Tolentino, Josh (June 2, 2019). "Review: Outer Wilds". Destructoid. Enthusiast Gaming. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  28. ^ Barbosa, Alessandro (June 8, 2019). "Outer Wilds Review - One small step". Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  29. ^ Faulkner, Jason (May 29, 2019). "Outer Wilds Review - Wonder And Frustration Intertwined". GameRevolution. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  30. ^ Gwaltney, Javy (June 3, 2019). "Outer Wilds Review | Out of this world". Game Informer. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  31. ^ Jake, Green (August 16, 2019). "Outer Wilds Review: And tomorrow comes. It's a world, it's a way". Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  32. ^ L'avis de mrderiv (July 3, 2019). "Test Outer Wilds redéfinit l'exploration grâce à un voyage captivant". Jeuxvideo.com. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  33. ^ Savage, Phil (May 31, 2019). "OUTER WILDS REVIEW". PC Gamer. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  34. ^ Pitcher, Jenna (March 4, 2015). "OUTER WILDS LEADS THE 17TH ANNUAL INDEPENDENT GAMES FESTIVAL AWARDS". IGN. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on March 8, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  35. ^ Simon Parkin (December 17, 2019). "The Best Video Games of 2019". New Yorker. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  36. ^ Christopher Byrd (December 6, 2019). "The 10 best video games of 2019". Washington Post. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  37. ^ Chelsea Stark (December 13, 2019). "GOTY 2019 #1: Outer Wilds". Polygon. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  38. ^ Christian Donlan (December 31, 2019). "Eurogamer's game of the year 2019 is Outer Wilds". Eurogamer. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  39. ^ Guardian Staff (December 17, 2019). "Top 20 games of 2019". The Guardian. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  40. ^ Giant Bomb Staff (December 30, 2019). "Here's What Won in 2019 - Giant Bomb's Game of the Year". Giant Bomb. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  41. ^ "Games of the Generation". Edge. No. 352. Future. December 2020. p. 76.
  42. ^ Polygon staff (November 4, 2019). "The 100 best games of the decade (2010-2019): 50-11". Polygon. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  43. ^ Martin, Garrett; Green, Holly; The Paste Games writers (October 8, 2019). "The 100 Best Videogames of the 2010s". Paste. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  44. ^ Campbell, Colin (July 11, 2019). "Outer Wilds is a brilliant sci-fi game that trades guns for a compass". Polygon. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  45. ^ Caldwell, Brendan (May 29, 2019). "Wot I Think: Outer Wilds". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  46. ^ "Review: Outer Wilds". Destructoid. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  47. ^ Watts, Steve (July 5, 2018). "Resident Evil 2 Wins Top Honor In E3 Game Critics Awards". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 16, 2019.
  48. ^ "Golden Joystick Awards 2019". GamesRadar+. Future plc. Archived from the original on September 28, 2019. Retrieved November 16, 2019.
  49. ^ GamesRadar staff (October 25, 2019). "Vote now for your Ultimate Game of the Year in the Golden Joystick Awards 2019". GamesRadar+. Future plc. Retrieved November 16, 2019.
  50. ^ "Winners Announced at the 2019 Golden Joystick Awards". Gamasutra. UBM plc. November 15, 2019. Retrieved November 16, 2019.
  51. ^ Winslow, Jeremy (November 19, 2019). "The Game Awards 2019 Nominees Full List". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  52. ^ Chalk, Andy (January 13, 2020). "Control and Death Stranding get 8 nominations each for the 2020 DICE Awards". PC Gamer. Future Publishing. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  53. ^ Shanley, Patrick (January 8, 2020). "'Death Stranding' Leads Game Developers Choice Awards Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  54. ^ Grayshadow (February 17, 2020). "2020 SXSW Gaming Awards Nominees Revealed". NoobFeed. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  55. ^ Stuart, Keith (March 3, 2020). "Death Stranding and Control dominate Bafta games awards nominations". The Guardian. Retrieved March 4, 2020.
  56. ^ Chilton, Louis (April 2, 2020). "Bafta Games Awards 2020: The results in full". The Independent. Archived from the original on May 24, 2022. Retrieved April 2, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]