Originally released back in 2016, Out There Chronicles ($1.99) was a pseudo-sequel followup of sorts to Out There ($3.99) which originally hit the App Store back in 2014. The original Out There was an easy sell, as it scratched the itch of anyone looking for something that felt a lot like FTL ($9.99). Instead of intensive space ship management and battle sequences, Out There leaned more on narrative and branching decisions. It was easy to recommend, as FTL is one of my favorite games of all time but both is fairly complicated and entirely unforgiving to newbies who hadn’t yet mastered the intricacies of all the various subsystems in game. As we explain in our review, Out There simplifies all this without feeling too simple, while still being completely approachable to someone who has never played a spaceship roguelike before.
In a nutshell, we loved Out There, so it seemed like the pseudo-sequel of Out There Chronicles would be a huge slam dunk. However, as Shaun lays out in his review, they took what was a fantastic game and turned it instead into a kinda-sorta alright gamebook. That being said, the Out There universe is really cool, and its neat how it gets explored. Out There Chronicles, as Shaun mentions, suffers from “the old gamebook bugbear" where most situations really only have one correct choice- Making it less of a gamebook and more of a guessing game as to what specific decision you need to make to progress the story.
This led to a situation where Out There Chronicles seemed to straddle this weird line where it wasn’t enough of a gamebook for gamebook people and wasn’t enough Out There for fans of the original game. As of this morning, the first episode of Out There Chronicles is free, and I really encourage everyone who enjoyed Out There to give it a go. Gamebook reviews, much like book reviews, are always a little weird as there’s a massive amount of room for loads of varied opinions on pieces of fiction, versus being able to debate fairly concrete things like “I die too often" or “This jump is too hard." I’d really be curious to hear if folks who skipped it because of our review get into the game while it’s free then are like, “Wait, this is a pretty great gamebook after all, ya’ll are crazy."
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that has happened!