With so many Metroidvania games out there, it's refreshing to play something as unique as Outbuddies DX so here's my review.
Right off the bat, let me say that Outbuddies DX is the sort of game that gradually grows on you over time so if it doesn't click with you within the first hour or 2 then you may still end up loving it by the end. Of course, this sort of structure means that it doesn't leave a very good first impression so that's why I wanted to mention this before diving into the review. Anyway, you start Outbuddies DX with limited abilities but as you progress, you'll acquire gadgets and such that allow you to shoot via the Seahorse Revolver, destroy certain walls with Compressor Bombs, launch Missiles, transform enemies into platforms with the Bubble Blaster, run up walls via the Corridium Galvanizer, and double-jump and triple-jump with Steam Boots and Jetpack Expansion, respectively. Keep in mind; these are only a few examples of what you'll be able to do and it's awesome discovering new abilities that make traversal and combat more rewarding.
Outbuddies DX takes place in an undersea fortress known as Bahlam and the game world is impressively huge. It'll take roughly 10 hours to simply explore the whole thing and at least a handful more to discover every secret within. As you do so, you'll control the hero Nikolay Bernstein as well as his mysterious robotic Buddy unit which involves scanning the environment, carrying blocks around, and hacking things. You don't have to control your Buddy often and having to do so usually involves solving some sort of platforming puzzle. That being said, the variety that this dynamic introduces is welcome and adds a dimension of outside-the-box thinking to its gameplay.
On top of the unique gameplay, Outbuddies DX boasts a distinct visual style that's rather minimalistic and is reminiscent of retro ZX Spectrum games although much more detailed. With so many similar games featuring much more striking graphics, I honestly got a little bored of looking at Outbuddies DX after a while. No matter which environment you're exploring, the entire campaign generally looks the same with the only real stand-out moments being some of the boss fights. On the plus side, the audio is absolutely fantastic complete with an awesome soundtrack that always seems to fit the mood and layered atmospheric effects such as muffled audio whenever you swim. Plus, the shooting sounds are quite satisfying and overall, I'm very impressed with Outbuddies DX's audio design.
Although I enjoyed Outbuddies DX a lot, it does have its downsides. The most prominent drawback is the control scheme which takes a long time to get used to. Even after playing it for hours, I was still fumbling around whenever I tried to accomplish something out of the ordinary. Finally, I found there to be far too many "what do I do now?" moments. You'll end up doing a lot of backtracking and generally speaking, the campaign layout does a decent job of guiding you along, especially with the map that contains helpful icons. However, you will reach many moments where you wander around and forget what you were doing which can particularly be a huge problem whenever you shut the game off and continue your progress later. You'll eventually find your way but it's still pretty annoying.
When it comes to Metroidvanias, Outbuddies DX offers a unique and retro-feeling adventure. However, it could still use quite a lot of fine-tuning with its controls, visuals, and guidance to make it truly stand out as a must-have experience.
- + Huge campaign with lots of secrets and cool abilities to unlock
- + Very well-accomplished audio
- + Unique Buddy unit mechanics
- - Plenty of "what do I do now?" moments
- - Visuals are rather bland
- - Controls could be more intuitive