One genre that has stood the test of time is platformers that encourage exploration. These, in recent years, have been coined as Metroidvania games thanks to them being heavily influenced by the Metroid and Castlevania series of games. This is where Outbuddies comes in. Set Bahlam under the Atlantic Ocean, Nikolay and his friendly robot pal need to find a way to get out of Bahlam and get themselves back home!
Gameplay wise, it’s everything you would expect from an exploration platformer. One thing I really enjoyed about the game is that there’s a weapon (albeit a weak one) that also doubles up as a way to get to higher spaces. It’s actually a very nice addition to have a weapon that has a dual purpose and works by stunning an enemy and turning them into a makeshift stepping stone. It’s not just platforming on offer though, there is also a diving and swimming element involved as well. Before long, you’ll be jumping around, bouncing off walls and stunning enemies to really level the playing field. It just flows together so nicely and despite it looking retro, it feels far from it.
Unlike some platformers that can feel a bit cheap when it comes to jumps that require you to have another attempt (I’m looking at you, Donkey Kong Country), this isn’t the case with Outbuddies. As mentioned, above, Nikolay has a robot pal called Buddy who is also able to help out when puzzles get a bit tricky. This is another nice touch added to the game and it allows you to control him to get through the puzzles without an issue.
In total, there are nine bosses to beat which do bring a lot of challenge to the proceedings. Sometimes they are a bit too challenging (no spoilers here), but there were quite a few instances where the battles weren’t a walk in the park. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s more the case that in recent years, games have become a lot easier and there’s a lot of hand holding involved. It’s when you play a game like Outbuddies that you forget how easy you’ve had it. Please note though that isn’t a super hard Contra style game. It’ll just give you a challenge.
Scattered throughout the game are a variety of upgrades, with a favourite of mine (and no doubt will be for others) being the ability to morph into a ball. Yes, it controls exactly like it does in Metroid, so if you’re used to that, then you’ll love this. There is also a missile upgrade available which does cause a lot of carnage, and explosions in the 8 bit DOS aesthetic does look really nice!
There are a lot more features in the game, but it’s not something that I want to spoil. It’s much better for you to be able to experience yourself.
The game supports keyboard controls as well as using an X input controller, such as the Xbox controller, or even the Gamesir G4S which is a brilliant alternative.
Graphics and Sound
Graphically, it’s very similar to Commander Keen and other 8 bit DOS game. In a world where retro inspired gaming looks like a game has been made for the SNES or Mega Drive, it’s actually very refreshing to see a game that’s been made with a nod to the DOS days. It does look great, and I was left smiling whilst playing the game.
It’s much the same with the sound. It takes me back to a time when I used to play on other peoples computers before I had my own, and the sound track used along with the sound effects just feels right. It isn’t annoying or trying to overdo it unlike other indie games and for that, I’m grateful. Indie titles are growing extremely popular but one area that falls foul is the music and sounds effects. This ultimately impacts the overall game and ruins the experience. This isn’t the case with Outbuddies. It sounds brilliant, and adds to the overall atmosphere of the game.
Outbuddies is a brilliant Metroidvania game that adds a refreshing take on the indie retro scene. It’s tough in places, but that adds to its charm. Definitely recommended.
A nice nod back to the old days of DOS
Graphical style might put some users off