IMPRESSIONS: Outbuddies DX on Switch

Monday, July 27th, 2020

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I love Metroidvanias. So whenever I see a new one, I take note. This particular game I got to demo at PAX West, but haven’t played since then. Technically I demoed an earlier build, but Outbuddies DX is essentially the same experience. It’s a Metroidvania mixed liberally with Cthulhu mythos and steampunk flair. If that sounds interesting, keep reading to see how it plays.

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While the oprainfall site did review Outbuddies, that wasn’t on Nintendo Switch. I can say Outbuddies DX plays very well on the Switch. In my couple hours of time with the game so far, I have yet to notice slowdown or graphical issues. No quitting back to the Home screen nonsense either. There’s great use of darkness and mood to make everything ominous and sinister. Even the main character, Nikolay Bernstein, is a bit demented, like H.P. Lovecraft if he actually went diving into the depths. He’s determined to prove his theories, no matter the cost.

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I admit I’m not sure where the robotic buddy comes from, but the moment I woke up he was there. He’s a handy little droid, capable of lifting giant blocks at first. Later he gets new abilities such as transforming foes into platforms, which makes him far more useful. He also is the only source of narration, other than the strange villagers, and has a lot of spunky personality. Naturally I suspect there’s more to him than meets the eye, but I’m not far enough yet to confirm that theory.

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The gameplay took a while to get started. Outbuddies DX lets you get lost, and it can be fun finding your path forwards. There’s eerie aquatic environments to explore and hideous Eldritch monstrosities. I love the visual flair of the game, and it really lends the whole experience something unique. Combat is reminiscent of the greats, with a blaster that can eventually fire charged shots, and missiles and bombs. Unlike Metroid, Nikolay is much smoother underwater than above ground. He is in a diving suit, after all, so that makes sense. The feeling of oppressive menace is especially evident when you’re in the depths, and you never know what’s lurking around the corner. Just don’t expect to be as overpowered as Samus. You’re very much a human fighting monsters you don’t understand, and the gameplay never makes you feel like a trained killer. You do a lot of ducking, hiding, rolling and evading notice.

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Though the gameplay is fun and had some distinct features, the controls are also not super intuitive. More than once I accidentally switched my primary and secondary weapons and had to flail around to fix it. That’s because the UI is not clear at all. Even the controls are sort of artistically sketched, without clear instructions. The map is worse, since it’s huge and you can only pan around. I would have killed for the ability to expand or zoom the map to see where to go next. Cause while things start out pretty smooth, I quickly got lost after the first mini boss, and have no clue what to do next. Oh and I managed to get stuck in a wall at one point, but luckily fell out into the adjacent room.

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Despite some of the issues I mentioned, I think there’s a lot of potential in Outbuddies DX. Metroidvania fans should definitely check it out. And don’t get too discouraged by how I got lost. I get lost rather easily in games without a clear map. It happens, but I’m also not giving up. If you like eerie and strange games with a hint of madness, you should check out Outbuddies DX. Just get ready, cause I strongly suspect this one won’t have a happy ending.

Outbuddies DX | Swarm

About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.