LifeisXbox’s Outshine review | I’ve been a long-time fan of the (Belgian-made!) Fishing Cactus typing games. You can read my Epistory Review to see that I gave it a near-perfect score and fellow reviewer Maui also liked her time with Nanotale, the spiritual sequel. But while those two games were narrative adventures, Outshine focuses more on getting an as high as possible score.
Sure, there is still a story being told (in a clever way, because you have to type it out yourself), but it doesn’t feel like the game’s focus. And with so many modifiers increasing or decreasing your score based on difficulty, it’s clear that the intention here was to go for high words per minute and perfect typing execution so you can try and rank in the top leaderboards.
My short pitch for the game would be “It’s like Temple Run meets typing of the dead.” That should give you an idea if you are familiar with those titles. Without further ado, let’s head into the review!
Most Memorable Moment
We never post spoilers here so I won’t talk about the ending that was kind of a highlight for me. Instead, I’ll pick getting 10th place worldwide on one of the levels, felt pretty proud about that!
ℹ️ Reviewed on PC | Paid for copy, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Typing sure is satisfying | The main mechanic of the game is typing and that’s actually enough of a pull as it’s soooo satisfying when you get a flawless streak going and see your score multiply. Enemies pop up on the screen with a word above their head, you type that word and you defeat them. Simple as that. The nice touch here is that you can even use typing to navigate the menus with START, NEXT etc.
- Typing can be educative | As someone who pretty much writes for a living, you’d be surprised that I don’t touch-type 100% and don’t usually keep my eyes glued to the screen. I think once every 3 or 4 words, my eyes drift towards the keyboard so I can re-align where to put my fingers. Epistory was the first game that motivated me to do better, then Nanotale came along to jog my muscle memory and now Outshine is doing the same and giving me a good exercise. It’s an excellent motivational tool to help teach your kids to type better. They’ll thank you for it!
- Modifiers keep things interesting | To increase your score, you can up the difficulty = longer and more complex words and also more traps on the path. Or you can disable the use of your abilities to add even bigger multipliers. If you’re brave enough, you can even activate a sudden death mode where a single mistake restarts the level.
- Typing your story | In between sections, you’ll face a wall of text, quite literally and you’ll have to type the story yourself to remove the wall. It’s a very interesting method of storytelling that makes you pay extra close attention.
- Dissolving the world | As you type and attack enemies, the projectiles coming out of the player character also hit the surrounding structures and dissolve them. It looks pretty satisfying and makes you feel very powerful.
- Boss Battles | At the end of each world is a big boss battle that changes up the regular formula and throws even more elements at you to keep in mind. Prioritizing dodging and knowing when to go for a big word or when to strike a homing missile headed your way is a nice challenge.
- Thesaurus | If you’re typing all the time, the words you have to enter draw a lot of attention. So it’s a bit of a shame that you’ll see the same words so often and that they usually don’t have anything to do with the world you’re in. In Epistory I though it was awesome that you had to type “INFERNO” to burn down a bush or “ZAP” to turn on your electric powers, but there is none of that here.
- Visuals | There is nothing wrong with how the game looks per se, but I can’t help shake the feeling that it’s a little dated. I’m getting a sort of REZ vibe while playing it, even though the games look nothing alike when you put them side-to-side, but it’s like I’m back in 2001 and maybe that’s precisely the intention they were going for. There are 3 major regions in the game though, and while they each have different visual elements, they all feel very much the same.
- Dodging | You won’t just be typing words, you need to pay attention to the environmental hazards as well. With the left and right CTRL keys, you move to the side to avoid broken paths or obstacles in the way. It adds a nice touch that keeps you on your toes, but at the same time frustrates when you didn’t correctly see which lane the trap would be in. Luckily there is a modifier that should do the dodging for you, but I didn’t find it to be 100% reliable.
What we Disliked
- Replayability | I get that a leaderboard game needs to have the same run for all players, but I can’t see myself being motivated enough to play through the story again. And there isn’t a true arcade equivalent that would keep the experience fresh. I think an increasingly difficult endless runner type of mode would have worked wonders to offer endless replayability and give players that “one more run” type of motivation.
- Fonts | It’s good that they included alternate fonts, with the intention of helping dyslexic people, but as far as I know I’ve never been diagnosed with it and I still had issues seeing the difference between an O and a D in one font and between a Q and O in the other. It would have been nice to have even more options, or maybe even a nice cool touch if you could choose from your own installed fonts while we’re at it.
How long to beat the story | 2.5 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Hard to say, but the “kill 100 000 enemies” achievement will take some grinding! and only 0.3% of players have earned it at the time of writing.
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Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.