While the gameplay may be a bit simple, Out of Line is a new puzzle-platformer that is charming, fun, and quite the feast for the eyes.
The 2D puzzle-platform genre has had quite the indie renaissance since Playdead’s Limbo helped popularize it back in 2011. Out of Line is a puzzle-platformer from Portugal based studio Nerd Monkeys and produced by Hatinh Interactive. The game’s imaginative world and stunning hand-painted graphics are a testament to a title that does an excellent job carving out an identity for itself among its competitors.
Out of Line is the story of San, a young boy escaping from the literal clutches of the Factory. While making his way to freedom, he finds himself both hunted by the facility’s corrupted machinery and helping others escape the same menace. The whole story is presented vague & piecemeal to the player in the form of murals seen in the game’s richly detailed backgrounds, but still remains interesting.
This unique style is easily Out of Line’s biggest selling point. The way that each frame is a painting makes the world appear almost surreal even when disregarding the setting’s fantastical elements. Perhaps the game’s most impressive feat is the way it balances these visuals with the gameplay in a way that never obscures anything from view. With rare exceptions, no matter how imaginative the environments become, they always communicate what elements the player can and should be interacting with.
The puzzle solving associated with these objects is the primary gameplay loop on offer as is the standard for most titles in the genre. The main innovation that Out of Line boasts on this front is the spear mechanic. San possesses a spear that he can hurl through the air in order to both interact with the environment and create platforms that he can then jump on. This ability is integrated quite well into every aspect of the gameplay, which allows for it to be expounded upon throughout the experience.
That being said, there were still some easily identifiable ways that the mechanic could have been utilized to create more complex puzzles that never came to fruition. For example, while the spear is inherently a thrown weapon, at no point is it ever used to either defeat enemies or for any sort of sharpshooting. The most difficult throws in the experience are reserved for the very late game, and still may only take one or two retries to get spot on.
This low level of difficulty is the main issue with Out of Line. With few exceptions, it is a puzzle game that most would never need to give much thought to, and they would still be able to finish it with every secret found. While this may be a selling point for some who prefer to just bask in the raw imagination on display, for those who prefer a challenge it could make things a little dull. On its own this one problem may not seem to be very significant, but it does compound with the other primary issue of Out of Line: its length. The game takes roughly 3.5 hours to beat with 100% collectables and achievements. For those wishing only to get their money’s worth out of their purchases, this could be a problem.
All of this is not to say that the game is not worth playing - far from it, in fact. Out of Line is an art gallery with a fun little puzzle game underneath. Out of Line provides a fun evening of relaxing scenery, decent puzzles, and exciting set-pieces, and while its length and ease may turn off some would-be players, it's still worth a look for fans of the genre and of artistic innovation in gaming.
Out of Line will be released today, June 23rd, 2021 for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Screen Rant was provided a digital Steam code for the purposes of this review.