Back when I was in middle school, computers were becoming essential. AOL brought us the internet, Compton brought us the depth of knowledge of encyclopedias without the need for a giant bookcase, and Mavis Beacon taught us to type, one road race and a few splatted bugs on the windshield at a time. It was part of my education, and learning to “properly” type at an early age has no doubt assisted me in so many, many things that I now do today in my daily life. But maybe, just maybe, my typing prowess was honed back in those days for a higher purpose. Like….saving an entire civilization from ruin?
In Outshine, developed by Fishing Cactus, makers of Epistory and Nanotale, you’ll be tasked with saving the world and your entire species. No big deal, right? Outshine is an endless runner where you’ll be battling various robots using the skills you learned in keyboarding class and from the likes of Ms. Beacon.
Typing games aren’t new on the block – they’ve been around forever. And Fishing Cactus had some success with Epistory. Outshine is, for me, at least, unique though, and interesting. Not only does it force you to do more than just type as fast as you can, adding dodging on the track with left and right ctrl keys, it also forces you to become strategic to progress. I’m a fast typer, and for the purposes of the review set the game to “average” difficulty, which is set at 60 wpm, over 20 wpm below what I average, and while I could even reach 98 wpm on some levels, I still couldn’t just faceroll them. That’s because of the various types of enemies and the need to constantly be on the lookout for obstacles and dropoffs.
Your track consists of regular robots that are ground dwelling and are defeated by typing the words represented, as well as red spiky bombs that can only be avoided or run through using a shield activated by the Tab button that depletes rather quickly and doesn’t regenerate through the level. But, there are also flying robots which drop bombs, shoot destructive beams, or even throw out rapid fire letters you have to type before they reach your character. Enemies come frequently and in large groups right from the start, so no matter how much of a handle you have on typing things, you’ll still need to triage and figure out what to type first. One good rule of thumb is to take down anything in the air first, but it’s easier said than done when you’re racing to save the universe and there’s a million things in your path.
Boss fights start out a little bit samey, but feature some amazing set pieces later on, and with the amazing, driving soundtrack to set the tone, you’ll find yourself enjoying every level even if you’re coming up against a wall (literally or figuratively)
One other neat thing about Outshine is that it has a solid narrative. While not as narrative driven as Fishing Cactus’ other titles, each time you defeat a section of a level, you’ll type part of the story of the game out, and find out what led an entire civilization to their doom and what can save them. The story actually kept me pretty intrigued the whole time, and featured some interesting twists, though I did feel like the end could’ve been a lot more epic than it was – your miles may vary.
Meanwhile, there’s a lot of replayability with Outshine not only with leaderboards and achievements to get, but because there are a lot of ways that you can modify the levels to create unique challenges or make the game easier if you’re having problems. For example, you can make your avatar invincible, set it to sudden death so any mistake ends your run, change how far ahead you can view words, and even play without checkpoints. Or you can put it on 100 wpm and kiss your fingers goodbye.
I really enjoyed my time with Outshine. It was unique enough to stand out, the story had a decent hook, and the soundtrack was stellar. Strategy and variety in enemies kept me engaged, and trying to beat my own high scores is making it tempting to load up any time I feel like a challenge.
If you’d like to save an entire civilization using only your typing skills, you can get Outshine now on Steam.