Far-Out review for Xbox One, PC

Platform: Xbox One
Also on: PC
Publisher: Escapism Softworks
Developer: Escapism Softworks
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

It?s kind of weird that Far-Out has such a goofy-looking Microsoft Store image, because that doesn?t represent what the game is like at all. As near as I can tell — which isn?t much, as I?ll explain shortly — it?s a tough survival game with nothing in the way of lighthearted comedy, which is the exact opposite of what that picture seems to be going for.

Admittedly, it?s quite possible that I missed out on some laughs, seeing as I spent most of my time with Far-Out not having any clue what to do. It promises that it?s going to give you a ?really old-school challenge,? with ?no map arrows, no one will lead you and tell you what to do?. This is entirely accurate, as evidenced by the fact that pretty much everything I did in this game happened either by chance or because I resorted to a walkthrough video to tell me the most basic information imaginable.

In my defense, Far-Out is incredibly dark — literally. I could never see where I was going, which meant I spent most of my time stumbling around, pressing whatever buttons I could find in the hopes they would lead to something. This, in itself, was also a problem, since not only could I not see where I was going, the act of pressing buttons is absurdly hard here. You have a tiny little reticule that doesn?t like to stay in one place, and the only way to press a button is to be aiming your reticule directly in the middle of it. While that may not have been an issue for the game when it was first released on PC a couple of years ago, it?s much more of a challenge when you have a controller instead of a mouse.

But back to the darkness for a moment: I know that?s sort of the point, since you wake up alone on a spaceship with no knowledge of what?s happened. It?s a well-established horror/survival trope. But still, that?s no excuse for making everything here as impossible to see as it is. When you?re having to resort to tutorials in the first couple of minutes because essential keycodes are completely illegible, it?s probably a sign you need to improve your contrast and brightness options (or, at least, make them more legible).

If you want a challenge, I guess that does the trick. But still, if it?s a challenge you?re after, you should be getting it from what?s going on in the game, rather than battling with basic settings. Far-Out may have a good game buried somewhere deep inside, but to get to it you have to fight through all kinds of poor design choices. You?re better off just replaying Alien: Isolation again, and getting a much improved version of what this game is trying to be.

Escapism Softworks provided us with a Far-Out Xbox One code for review purposes.

Grade: C-