Outreach gameplay trailer brings the “ostalgia”

Posted on June 8, 2017

There’s a term in modern Europe for people who long for the simple us versus them mentality of the Cold War. It’s called “ostalgia”. Upcoming game Outreach seems set to fulfil that longing to return to the cold war conflict in a way that has never been seen before in a newly released gameplay trailer. Set in 1986, players will play a cosmonaut of the USSR, named Alexei. His mission is to search an apparently abandoned space station and, well, I think we can all guess how that’s going to go. Take a look.

The gameplay trailer builds on what we saw in the game’s announcement trailer.  Immediately players face a mystery. Where are the crew? More importantly, why were the crew here and what were they doing? The gameplay trailer suggests a similarity to games such as Outlast and Soma where players explore a dangerous environment to try and uncover a mystery. In contrast to these games, Outreach is not advertising itself as a horror game. Furthermore, the zero-gravity movement of the game means that we’re unlikely to see any adrenaline-pumping chase scenes or be running from any monsters. Instead, players will launch themselves between any surfaces that they can grab on to or risk floating into space. It is noteworthy that the “gameplay” trailer shows very little of this mechanic. The trailer shows seemingly little “gameplay” at all, save for a quick shot of taking a photo of some plants.

But what photogenic plants they are. The game looks visually stunning, giving publisher Gambitious Digital Entertainment a good reason to shove as many visuals into the trailer as possible. After watching the movie Gravity, I thought I’d never want to explore space again, but Outreach makes it look absolutely beautiful. Even the true-to-life space station looks great, and it’s a great change from dingy and decaying settings that are common in similar mystery games. There will definitely be plenty of places where you’ll wish for a “X to photograph” tooltip.

Ultimately though, this gameplay trailer doesn’t allay concerns that exist with the game.  We still don’t know how the zero-gravity movement is going to work. The advertised mechanisms of pushing off, timing landings, and grappling for handholds sounds like it could easily verge into annoying. Conversely, it could also prove such a limitation on movement that it will feel like the whole game is a story on rails. Even with Adam Harrington (Bigby Wolf in The Wolf Among Us) and Seamus Dever (Detective Kevin Ryan in Castle) giving us their best Russian accents, this trailer isn’t enough to assure anyone that Outreach won’t just involve awkwardly bouncing from cutscene to cutscene. Potentially, the absence of it in the trailer shows that developers Pixel Spill still don’t know how the movement mechanic will work either.  This is a big concern for a game set to release this year.

Ultimately, I’m a huge history nerd and that means I’ll be all over this game. Mix Soviet conspiracy and space mystery and I’m excited to see what comes next. Who knows? The next trailer might show some actual gameplay.

What do you think? Is this trailer enough to get you “ostalgic” for Outreach? Holding judgement until the Kremlin declassifies some footage of actual gameplay mechanics? Let us know in the comments!