Outer Terror Review

When it comes to schlockfest B-movies, I’m something of a fan. From the amazing monster effects of Teenagers from Outer Space to the insane experience that is El Chupacabra, I’ve seen a cheaply-made horror trope-fest or two. So, when I saw the trop-y horror anthology horde-shooter Outer Terror was coming to Nintendo Switch, I jumped at the chance to finally check it out. I just wish they had actually finished the game first.

 

What the Heck is Outer Terror?

Outer Terror screenshot showing a pixel art character running to the left with a ring of fire around him while he holds a gun

Outer Terror is a horror anthology rogue-like horde shooter from Salt & Pixel and Vox Pop Games. To put it another way, it’s Vampire Survivors meets Scare Package. It also packs a comic-book aesthetic, a bunch of zany characters with various special abilities, and a focus on both online and offline co-op.

There are 5 different self-contained stories for you to choose from, each with a pair of characters for you to control. Each character has a different special move you can use, as well as having access to different arrays of weapons and upgrades to find as you play through the game.

Mostly, the gameplay consists of kiting around hordes of pixel-art enemies and blasting them with various melee and ranged weapons. As you destroy more enemies and complete objectives, you get new upgrades to your various weapons and collect cash to provide yourself with upgrades between runs that apply to all of your characters.

 

A Collection of Horror Stories

Outer Terror screenshot showing art of two characters stnading in some sort of cold-weather facility

The 5 stories found in Outer Terror can be broken down into two broad categories: Mazes and Actual Storylines. The 2 maze-like levels give you no map and basically task you with exploring various mazes that seem to loop endlessly in on themselves. The other 3 stories have proper fixed maps and objectives, usually tasking you with destroying lots of things.

The second category is more enjoyable than the first, but the stories are all pretty mid. One features basic zombies, another is a robot-apocalypse fantasy with some suspiciously uncanny artwork. There’s also a token SCP Foundation level, which is appropriately one of the maze-type levels that leaves you feeling like you’re going insane, much like reading the SCP Wiki does.

On the plus side, you can at least use any of the characters with any of the different storylines, so it’s possible to survive the apocalypse with the old Inuit lady and her insanely OP giant throwing axe power.

 

Gameplay to Replay All Day? Nay.

Outer Terror screenshot showing a clown character standing between two spinning green blades in an industrial maze

The basic gameplay of Outer Terror is so similar to stuff like Vampire Survivors that it’s tempting to say that if you enjoyed that, then you’ll enjoy this, but unfortunately, it’s hard to justify that statement. Sure, the moment-to-moment gameplay is similar, but despite the nearly full-year since release, this game is still a broken mess.

I had the game crash on me numerous times, once just after I’d completed one of the scenarios for the first time. There are also still 0 I-frames when you get hit, so it’s possible to have spent 20 minutes working through a level’s goals, only to have all of your health bar drained in seconds because you slightly clipped a blob of phlegm.

Honestly, there’s also just a fundamental-level design problem. I don’t really want to wander through a samey-looking industrially-textured maze for 40 minutes trying to achieve an unknown goal. It just feels like the ideal of a story-based anthology series isn’t gelling particularly well with the rogue-lite horde-shooter stuff.

 

Visuals and Music

Outer Terror screenshot showing a giant face embossed on a wall obscuring the player character

On the plus side, Outer Terror looks pretty decent in certain aspects. The comic-styled visuals are well done, and I had fun checking out all of the zany, archetypical characters found within. The music was also pretty enjoyable, though I had to turn off the sound after a while due to the slightly grating sound effects used in most of the levels.

The visual style of the actual levels is mostly relatively flat, which matches the comic visuals well. That said, the graphics tended to look best in the zombie and robot doom scenarios. When it comes to the endless maze levels, the visual design basically ends up as so much white noise.

Developer: Salt & Pixel

Publishers: VoxPop Games

Platforms: PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X/S

Release Date: 12th April 2024 (Nintendo Switch) | 20th April 2023 (All Other Platforms)


Gaming Respawn’s copy of Outer Terror was provided by the publisher

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