Before you jump in Outer Wilds: Echos of the Eye, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Mobius Digital’s original 2019 game is about as perfect a game as you can get in my book – an expert blend of powerful exploration, fascinating archaeological mysteries, clever puzzle design, and a satisfying conclusion that pairs with one of my all-time favorite soundtracks to create a generational experience. What could possibly be added to this small pocket galaxy that wouldn’t upset the incredible balance of the whole?
Well it turns out there’s a reason why Mobius makes the games and I just play them, because Echoes of the eye is a thrilling, awe-inspiring and at times terrifying addition to the universe that takes on its true meaning in the story of the original game, while also adding new layers to the mystery and highlighting a path Mobius could take for its future endeavors.
Part of the joy of the game is this feeling of discovery and surprise, so I’ll try to minimize spoilers. Outer Wilds: Echos of the Eye revolves around a new exhibit that appears in your local Timber Hearth museum, one that leads you to the bizarre discovery of a massive object in space that appears to be visible at one point and then vanish the next. You know typical Outdoor savages thing.
Suffice to say that you end up heading towards this object to discover that it is in fact something else entirely. The first time I stepped on it, I let out an audible gasp. The setting is by far the largest and most complex of Outdoor savagessolar system, and the second you see this new playground, you’ll get a feel for the types of challenges that are packed into this 7 hour adventure.
Like the base game, Echoes of the eye does a great job of sticking to the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule of game design and storytelling. Careful observation and tinkering with environmental contextual clues is just about all you need to solve the puzzles that are presented to you. Like the Hourglass Twins and Brittle Hollow, there is a basic mechanic in this new location that makes it clear that some locations can only be explored at the start of the 22 minute cycle, while others can only be accessed near the end of the loop. Finally, understanding the nuances of this transformation and its impact on almost every region of the world was extremely satisfying.
While the story of Outdoor savages‘the main game was gleaned by translating ancient texts scattered across the cosmos and creating your own mental timeline of events, Echoes of the eye unveils its story through a range of slideshow photographs that you discover and view through devices that resemble the Kodak carousel. This nostalgic device already has a prominent place in popular culture, whether through the fears of Stephen King This Where the iconic speech delivered by Don Draper in Mad Men. Echoes of the eye uses those little forgotten bits of time in a way that feels like a mixture of the two and contains the same powerful “aha!” moments found in the base game.
that of Stephen King This is a particularly apt comparison, given that the first thing you see when you start Outer Wilds: Echos of the Eye up is a content warning about the level of fear in new content, as well as the “Reduce Fears” option in the menu. However, if you’ve made it through Dark Bramble in one piece, you should be able to deal with these new things happening overnight, especially once you’ve discovered their true purpose in the grand scheme of things.
If there is one thing that Echoes of the eye is missing from the rest of the Outdoor savages, it’s that feeling of going where the wind can take you. In the base game, I loved spending a little time on a planet, getting stuck on a tricky puzzle, and then flying off to another world to see if I could progress there. This act of cosmic ping-pong made me feel like I was embroidering my way through the galaxy and eased any sort of frustration that came from not being able to immediately find a particular solution. It’s like leaving your house at night with no concrete plan and just seeing where the night takes you.
On the contrary, Echoes of the eyeThe emphasis on this massive but centralized location allows you to set your plans in stone. The location of the DLC is so singular that while it exists in the same solar system as the rest of the game, it really feels like its own. thing. Other than the first minute or two it takes to get to the new location, your paved spaceship isn’t really used throughout this trip, which is either a blessing or a disappointment depending on what you want. think of the base game’s flight mechanics. .
But by focusing and centralizing this new story, Mobius is able to introduce a new group of characters, give them a wonderfully fleshed out backstory, and weave their story into the central mystery of the sun becoming a supernova every 22 minutes. in a really excellent fashion. I don’t know how it’s going to be if someone comes to Outdoor savages + Echoes of the eye completely new to the game, but for me it’s just another phenomenal piece of the puzzle.
Outdoor savages is as confident of a game as I can think of. He’s confident in its simple mechanics, confident in its hard-hitting story, and confident in how the experience comes together. It also reflects that trust in the player, giving us just the right amount of breadcrumbs needed to find our own way out of the woods. And so, it’s normal that Echoes of the eye exudes the same level of confidence to mix up the formula, take us to an unexpected new place, and challenge us in a way the original game didn’t. It’s so much more than just “more Outdoor savages, and I’m excited to see what Mobius Digital will do next.