When Outcast released in 1999, it was a pioneer to open world games. It was one of the first times players had experienced true open world. Fast forward to 2017 and the release of Outcast: Second Contact as a full remake to the beloved open world title, and players who weren’t around in the early 2000’s finally can enjoy the open world of Adelpha.
I have a feeling that a lot of gamers may not know much about Outcast’s history. After being released to moderate success by 2002, Outcast eventually got a re-release with updated graphics and a higher supported resolution. This was after a failed Kickstarter in mid 2014. The updated release still launched though, but this 2017 release is a complete overhaul of the 1999 title. The reason that Outcast was such a big deal when it launched is because it was the first title that used full 3D exploration as an open world title.
The biggest problem with remaking Outcast is that it feels incredibly dated. Most of the work for the overhaul here was put into reimagining the visuals of the world, and less on the mechanics of how everything works. From what I’ve noticed, the world seems pretty identical to the original release, just with a shiny new coat of paint. And honestly, the world is really pretty. Textures are nice, the world is bright and colorful, and the environments are fun to explore.
It’s fine that Outcast: Second Contact feels dated, because even if the mechanics haven’t changed dramatically since its original release, exploring the world of Adelpha still feels great. Protagonist Cutter Slade moves at a quicker pace than he did before, and a handful of unique environments help keep the journey fresh. Unlike the environments though, the NPC’s of Outcast: Second Contact don’t seem to have gotten the same love. Facial animations are pretty miserable, and character movements during conversations are ungainly.
Combat is pretty solid in this outing too. Players will have access to a handful of weapons, starting with a standard pistol. Main character Cutter Slade will be side stepping bullets and leading enemies in order to hit his targets. It feels old school, but that’s part of Outcast: Second Contacts’s charm. Players will end up searching for resources, including bullets. Fortunately, there is plenty of ammunition lying around the world and none of the resources ever felt scarce.
The big complaint I had while playing through Outcast: Second Contact were the voiceovers. The voice recordings used for this remake are some of the most grating voiceovers I’ve had to listen to. I’m not positive, but it sounds like the developers took the original recordings from the first release and laid them over the updated graphics. More than anything, the voices feel otherworldy themselves. This wouldn’t be so bad if I could just read the conversations and then press a button to skip through to the next conversation piece, but in order to keep the conversations going, players will have to listen to every poorly recorded piece of dialogue from 1999.
The most grating aspect of these conversations were if I accidentally hit a button and exited out of a conversation after a minute or two, I would have to listen to an NPC retell me everything they just did. I lost a ton of time because of this, and these conversations were like nails on a chalkboard.
I had never played the original release, so the story in Outcast: Second Contact was pretty cool. Taking place in 2007, parallel universes have been discovered, and the government sends a prove to Adelpha, a world in another universe. After an alien species discovers the probe and damages it, an incredible amount of energy is released, and a black hole is on the verge of creation and threatening the Earth. Cutter Slade is tasked with escorting a few scientists to retrieve the damaged probe in order to save the Earth. There are twists and turns along the way, and the story is of the standard save the Earth sci-fi fare, but it’s mostly unique, and the unique setting of Adelpha helps it work.
Which is why it’s such a shame that Cutter and the rest of the characters in Outcast: Second Contact are so unremarkable. A stronger cast really would have tied everything together, because as it stands, I didn’t care what happened to anyone. Luckily, the different regions of Adelpha offer a few unique personalities for the natives, otherwise dealing with any of the characters would have been more of a slog.
It really is too bad that more of Outcast: Second Contact couldn’t have been redone. While I truly believe that a lot of returning players will have a lot of joy exploring Adelpha with the updated visuals, anyone undertaking this adventure for the first time really won’t be able to appreciate existing in this world as much as they could be. I probably fall into this category, between the dated combat and the lack of direction, I found myself lulled into the charm of a previous era of gaming, only to be snapped out of it by incredibly poor voiceovers and a terrible dialogue system. The MSRP of $39.99 might be a little high for some, but anyone wishing to journey through Adelpha like it’s 1999 will find themselves familiar with most of the winding rivers and roads in this beautiful world.
Outcast: Second Contact is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher for that purpose.