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Outer Terror Review

Retro horror is back on the menu

I am a huge fan of pulpy horror properties. I like my monsters to be oozing piles of barely-distinguishable flesh, all eyeballs and cosmically terrifying gore. Give me a short window to try and outrun these heinous hordes, while blasting a buffet of bullets at them, and you have me hooked.

Outer Terror offers all of this in a delightfully indie package that coats itself in a thick layer of retro grime and tasks you with surviving five comic-book inspired tales to chill your spine. Hordes of sprite-based suckers will be hungry for your blood, so get jogging and figure out how to get out of this mess. The game functions very much like Vampire Survivors, with your player basically being shunted around with tank controls – farting out all manner of ballistic attacks as you level up your arsenal by blasting baddies and looting corpses.

As time passes, the immediate danger will climb – nastier threats will emerge, and in most cases the number of on-screen enemies will dramatically inflate. This means that your moment-to-moment experience is a delicate balance of working towards your current objective, while also being mindful of your current player power level. Neglect either of them too much, and you could find yourself overwhelmed – either by the horde of enemies, or a big baddie that is waiting for you when your time is up.

These little green men don’t look friendly

It prides itself on delivering B-movie-flavoured arcadey action, with a hefty lifting of the more palatable mechanics from idle games. While many of your attacks will auto-aim and auto-fire, you still get a range of power ups and unique abilities that can be deployed at your call. Coupled with the inclusion of a precision mode, it’s really up to the player as to how much grey matter needs to be employed for general gameplay – I personally found the auto-fire method to be more than fine, allowing me to focus on the fun bullet-hell nature of weaving through the haze of intelligent projectiles that wanted to eat me.

Each time you level up, a choice of three randomly-generated cards will be offered, rogue-like style – offering either increased firepower or increased utility to your current run. Initially I was so nonplussed by the horde that I grabbed speed boosts and gimmick power ups, thinking I could skirt danger and speedrun particular objectives – like fixing a radio or building an EMP device – before coming to the grim realisation that I was not going to out-scale the threat level. With the short playtime in each session, I didn’t feel too gutted by throwing away the run – but I would have absolutely appreciated a little more explanation on what kind of upgrade paths might be worth it before spending 15 minutes getting swamped.

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This is further compounded by the character select screen not really offering any insight as to what each character does – which is a huge shame. Every character in the game is a super sweet horror trope – with battered drifters, clown girls, convicts and even an Inuit woman rounding out a generous cast. Each of these characters may employ a unique weapon of specialist ability (sometimes both) but you really won’t know until you get into the thick of it. And if you just so happen to not really gel with a playstyle – hello, melee weapons – you may find yourself wasting a hefty chunk of time.

Honestly, the coin is for parking – where is the meter?

Each story delves deep into fun horror tropes, and the game doesn’t shy away from the goofy and the absurd. Eldritch horrors, classic zombies and even aliens are all on the table, and each have their own delightful set of pixelated perils to hound your heels. The introduction of these chapters are all presented with awesome comic art that portray how the characters came to be in the mess they are in, and waste no time jumping into the action. This same comic art is also employed to great effect while playing to introduce objectives and map-specific characters, working in lieu of cutscenes and really nailing the very specific aesthetic Salt & Pixel are aiming for.

What Outer Terror may lack in quality of life, it makes up for with a serious dedication to its direction. There is a sense of fun at the core of its combat loop that is unshakeable, and it leans well into letting players really drink in the experience that each story offers. One minute you may be juggling a hypothermia mechanic in a frozen wasteland, in others you are simply trying to find your way out of a maze – but each level is engaging and interesting in their own right. There is also a pulse-quickening excitement to seeing the horde really start to ramp up out of the fog, as your final minutes start to count down, and you are only half sure you are on the right track to find your goal.

If not? Well, time for one more run.

Dang Zombies just don’t understand the concept of personal space

Final Thoughts

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While flaws may be present in Outer Terror, they are not the kind that cripples its intentions. This is a title that revels in the distinct experience it was hoping to deliver, and does it with five delicious flavours of pulpy old-school fiction that are delivered, amuse-bouche style, to enthusiastic mouths. Its gameplay loop is rock solid, albeit with the risk of being unengaging at times – but the aesthetic at its core will always draw you back in.

Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher

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Outer Terror Review
There WILL be blood
Outer Terror is a daring and defiant ode to the beauty of retro horror, delivering an arcade experience that is familiar but unique enough to keep you digging further.
The Good
Solid gameplay loop is portioned out beautifully
Nails the retro 80s horror aesthetic
Fun range of varied characters
Objective-based gameplay keeps the auto-play nature fun
The Bad
Learning curve is far from gentle
UI elements/tooltips are lacking in areas
Quiet gameplay moments can feel a bit unengaging
7.5
SOLID
  • Salt & Pixel LLC
  • VoxPop Games, Inc.
  • PC
  • April 20, 2023

Outer Terror Review
There WILL be blood
Outer Terror is a daring and defiant ode to the beauty of retro horror, delivering an arcade experience that is familiar but unique enough to keep you digging further.
The Good
Solid gameplay loop is portioned out beautifully
Nails the retro 80s horror aesthetic
Fun range of varied characters
Objective-based gameplay keeps the auto-play nature fun
The Bad
Learning curve is far from gentle
UI elements/tooltips are lacking in areas
Quiet gameplay moments can feel a bit unengaging
7.5
SOLID
Written By Ash Wayling

Known throughout the interwebs simply as M0D3Rn, Ash is bad at video games. An old guard gamer who suffers from being generally opinionated, it comes as no surprise that he is both brutally loyal and yet, fiercely whimsical about all things electronic. On occasion will make a youtube video that actually gets views. Follow him on YouTube @Bad at Video Games

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