Review – Out of Line

One of the most remembered and acclaimed subgenres in indie gaming is “puzzle platforming”, of which there’s an even more specific niche I like to call the “little kid running away from imminent danger” genre. Some widely acclaimed games with said premise include Little Nightmares, Limbo, and Inside, but tons of other games tried to follow in their footsteps, often to no avail. I’ll be honest: for as much as I like Playdead’s games, I usually get bored when most of these games have to offer is running to the right and occasionally pushing a box or pressing a switch to solve a “puzzle”. Not many games in this genre manage to stand out with ideas of their own. Thankfully, Out of Line is one of the very few that do.

Out of Line San

“Hey Mark, how was your weekend? Ready for another week at work?”

Out of Line does have a storyline, but it’s not necessarily its strongest aspect. You control a clone factory worker called San, and your objective is to escape from a grim and despotic factory run by evil machines that won’t think twice about killing you if they ever need to. You’ll help and be helped by other identical factory workers along the way. Out of Line never tells you the reasoning behind its premise, but you wouldn’t need to think hard to associate it with postmodern toxic work conditions and rampant consumerism. Again, not exactly the most creative of premises nor the most amazing plot in an indie game. There are other elements that make up for these setbacks, though.

Being a puzzle platformer, a good chunk of Out of Line does revolve around going right and pushing blocks and pressing switches to move to next puzzle. However, there is an additional gameplay element included in here that results in some additional and inventive puzzle design: a javelin. San can conjure a small javelin and use it to create platforms, act as a makeshift level in order to operate machinery, halt cogs, and much more.

Out of Line Machinery

Glad to see that the assembly line set from Attack of the Clones is still being used nineteen years later.

Sadly, you cannot use these spears to attack the robots chasing after you, although I am pretty sure a well-aimed stab would certainly stun them, at the very least. But the addition of this simple mechanic broadens the scope and possibility for puzzles in a genre where simplicity (and lack of creativity) often prevails. Aiming with right stick doesn’t work properly times, though. Whether that was a glitch or just an annoying design choice to make aiming so sensitive remains to be seen.

Out of Line‘s gameplay is pretty good, but its presentation is where it shines the brightest. The entire game was hand-drawn, looking like a living, breathing expressionist painting. I also loved its characters’ animations, even if they are actually quite simplistic. They just fit in perfectly with the art style. The soundtrack is always present, although somewhat sparse in instrumentation, but that ended up being a perfect fit for the setting of an industrial landscape devoid of art, freedom, life, and joy.

Out of Line Javelin

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure a well-placed javelin throw on that machine’s light core should be able to stun it at least.

Out of Line is quite short, clocking at around three hours, and not exactly replayable, but I did enjoy this brief ride while it lasted. It wasn’t so much for its themes, as they can (and most certainly will) fly by everyone’s head as the storytelling isn’t this game’s forte, but I did enjoy its gorgeous art style, relaxing level of difficulty, and inventive puzzle design.


Graphics: 9.0

Out of Line‘s gorgeous hand drawn art style is without a doubt its main highlight. The game also runs flawlessly on the Switch.

Gameplay: 7.5

Even though this is yet another “little boy running away from danger” platformer where you can’t defend against threats in any way, I did enjoy Out of Line‘s usage of a spear in its puzzle design. Sadly, the are moments when the aiming reticule doesn’t work as well as it should.

Sound: 7.5

The soundtrack is intentionally sparse in instrument to give the sensation of an industrial landscape devoid of life, art, and joy. It’s quite effective for the subtle message the game tries to tell.

Fun Factor: 7.5

It’s not difficult at all and it’s quite short, but Out of Line is a pretty enjoyable ride while it lasts. It’s a relaxing (and gorgeous) little game that can be blasted through an afternoon.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Out of Line is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Out of Line was provided by the publisher.