Review – OutBuddies DX (Xbox One)

Metroidvania is a commonly misplaced term in video games these days. Anything that is remotely side-scrolling, generally with an 8-bit aesthetic, and a transition between rooms falls under the genre now. One key element that was popularised by the likes of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or Super Metroid though, was the concept of having to backtrack. Progressing to a certain point and seeing areas that were inaccessible for various reasons, only to find the power up required to go back and open up multiple new paths was the norm with these style games. Luckily, or maybe not so much depending on your attitude towards the aforementioned games, Headup Games’ return to form with OutBuddies DX.

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Just hanging out.

Originally released in October of last year on PC, OutBuddies has finally found its home on console. Well, Xbox and Switch specifically, with PlayStation planned for later this year. This is a true to form, metroidvania adventure following the story of Nikolay Bernstein as he crashes under the Atlantic Ocean, only to find Bahlam. Balham is a city ruled by the Old Gods, a race of beings that have the power to grant humans with resurrection, and inhabited by a race of miners called the Wozan. The Wozan fear the Old Gods, having been enslaved by them, and through your adventures in Balham you may come across your new friends to save from captivity.

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Wozan are friend, not food.

It won’t take long to understand why OutBuddies would be called a true metroidvania. One of the first doors that you’ll come across in your adventures is a yellow door. At this point, not only do you not have a gun to shoot the doors open, but the required tool to open the yellow doors is still a ways away after that. You’ll encounter enemies of different sorts, from cave dwelling “animals”, like weird bird/bat things, to creatures representative of the Old Gods themselves. Of course, no game of this style is complete without boss battles and OutBuddies is full of them. Some may be a bit harsh, but it’s nothing too difficult to learn after a death or two.

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Please allow me to introduce myself…

What is the hardest part to grasp of Outbuddies is its use of teleporters. The map in this game is pretty massive and trying to piece together where each teleporter takes you and if you can proceed that way can become very distracting and confusing at times. Another element to the map is that it shows you when a room is cleared or has an item. The symbol that is used though isn’t on the map, making it hard to tell at times which room it might mean, especially when a room has both a clear and an item symbol beside it. Not saying things need to be spelt out for the player, no one likes when a game holds their hand for ages, but this should be something made a little more clear if it’s going to be a feature in the game.

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…I’m a robot of tail and claw

At the end of the day, outside of some frustrating confusion, and maybe a bit more time looking in rooms for items that might not exist, OutBuddies is an enjoyable way to pass the time. If you stick with it, the game tends to make you feel silly for not realising what way you need to go to progress sooner, but the boss battles and weapon upgrades do offer a rewarding feeling. OutBuddies is a true return of the metroidvania genre.

 

Graphics: 7.0

While not visually stunning for the genre, OutBuddies does look nice and the bosses are detailed enough.

Gameplay: 9.0

A very clean, return-to-form Metroidvania game. Platforming feels smooth and doable, while bosses are challenging, but not impossible.

Sound: 4.0

Nothing in Outbuddies‘ sound department managed to stand out. The game certainly doesn’t pride itself on it music so much as it does with its gameplay.

Fun Factor: 7.0

While the game acts as a nice nod to the originators of its genre, certain aspects of how Outbuddies handles itself, particularly around its map, can be frustrating and lead to a lot of wasted time, just wandering aimlessly.

Final Verdict: 7.0

OutBuddies DX is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of OutBuddies DX was provided by the publisher.

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