I’m a huge fan of games like Inside—side-scrollers that mix puzzles with a little bit of platforming, where the entire adventure is underpinned by a cryptic story that is told mostly through clues. Out of Line takes the concept a step further, and adds beautiful hand drawn animation to the formula. Of course, I wish I knew a little bit more about what is happening—but the preview build I was given the chance to play left me with way more questions than it did answers.
Out of Line is a side-scrolling puzzle platformer. You play as San, a little robot looking person—either that, or they have a old-style leather football helmet and a blue puffy jacket. Machines came and destroy the land, and kidnap you to a mysterious factory-like place where you must use your wits, reflexes, and a cool glowing javelin that returns to you to overcome the obstacles that you’ll encounter—and in the case of the preview build, it was a lot of grabby robot hands. You’ll also need to do plenty of running, jumping, and block pushing/pulling to succeed. But the javelin is really what sets apart Out of Line’s gameplay.
Throughout Out of Line there are mysterious energy cubes called memory cubes that serve as collectibles, and your javelin comes from a mysterious, unique glowing cube that changed its form for you. While I don’t know the exact nature of the javelin, I do know that it’s pretty damn awesome. Ever since I played God of War (2018) I’ve been tickled anytime a game has a mechanic where a thrown weapon returns to you—and Out of Line’s javelin’s is well-implemented. There were no enemies in the preview build, however. The javelin is used to hit switches that are out of reach, or thrown into the wall to be used as a way to climb to higher points.
Out of Line is definitely a surreal experience, and it’s made even more so by its hand drawn nature. But there’s also the fact that San, and the world they inhabit, is such a strange unexplained place. There are obviously other people like San, or even other version of San, that are trapped and trying to escape in the beginning, just like you are. In fact, some of these alternate Sans will even help you escape using their javelins–there are so many questions I need answered.
I love puzzle platformers, and Out of Line has everything I want in a good puzzle platformer, but most of all, it has a mystery I absolutely need solved. Who is San? What is the nature of the world and the threat against it? It’s all so alien and strange. Oh yeah, and there’s a dude with a normal-sized human body and a cat-sized cat head that is introduced right at the end of the preview—if it didn’t sound so damn silly written down, I’d stress how compelling its intro was. I need to know more!
Out of Line will be available later this year on Steam.
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