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PAX West 2019: Outbuddies Reconfigures The Metroidvania Genre

Alike every PAX I attend, striving to find another ground breaking platformer is always a priority seeing the amount of potential that continues to sprout from the indie market currently. But defining as “just a platformer” would be insulting when I speak towards Outbuddies seeing that there is more to the game than just platforms to jump on.

In this game, the plot follows the journey of archaeologist Nikolay Bernstein after wrecking his ship in the center of the South Atlantic Sea. Not until Bernstein comes to; 36,000 feet of the ocean’s surface does the experience begin. In finding of Belham, a sunken city of the Gods before us, Bernstein also discovers that he is linked to a Buddy-unit that he discovers he is unable to break free from.

Speaking with Dieter Schoeller, Founder of Headup Games who represented the game on the show floor, he shared that developer Julian Laufer who has been working on the game since 2013 came to using the depths of the South Atlantic to set Outbuddies is primarily influenced by the idea of a hollow canvas and felt the concept based in an abyss suited his vision perfectly.


Atop of being a gamer himself, Laufer also appreciated retro titles such as Super Metroid and Castlevania. So striving to introduce something new without reflecting too hard on the source material, this is where the Buddy-unit shines bright. Breaking from traditional metroidvania standards, the player will have the option to control more than one character at the same instance. While Bernstein is the protagonist and how the story relies on his progression to advance on, the Buddy-unit is who dots the ‘I’s and makes sure everything is spelled correctly.

The game requires you to work alongside as the two are conjoined for the plot. The floating Buddy-unit as he follows you around can help with dealing against the stray enemies on the ocean’s floor as well as assist in the approaching puzzles the two will face. He can also be very helpful with hacking enemies to your advantage when the walls start to close in on you. Schoeller who shared to have played roughly 25 hours of the game mentioned that the Buddy-unit is also really helpful with platforming through the game’s world and to be the extra hand needed when exploring some of the tighter crevices in deep in the Atlantic.

That’s not all he can do as the Buddy-unit is also the key to introducing local co-op to the game as well. While you play by yourself, the you can transition between the two when necessary towards completing your objective. But when you introduce a second player, the responsibility is split in half and adds another dynamic to the core gameplay. Seeing that you will have more say when playing together, he will surely help especially when versing the bevy of boss battles that lie within the game’s story.

Demoing the game, it was evidently easy to pick up the control scheme for the most part. Aside from the rolling mechanic that Bernstein utilizes towards maneuvering through tights spaces and climbing walls, this was something that players would have to work to perfect over time. But even then if you still have trouble, the game also supports key rebinding/controller reconfiguration to suit every player’s respected control preference.

Getting my hopes up of potential additional features for the Switch version of the game, I asked Schoeller what Nintendo’s hybrid handheld console would offer over the PC and other console counterparts. However, I was only told that HD rumble will be implemented for the Nintendo Switch.

Changing the conversation to the game’s substance, I questioned about the possibility of more content that might arrive following the game’s upcoming release next month. But Schoelller shared that the base game is currently what the developer has planned for the release. Seeing that the title has been in development for nearly six years, Schoeller reaffirms that there is plenty of content in the base game which he witnessed from his time playing.

According to the game’s Kickstarter, Laufer initially planned to release two extra DLCs if the game reached a certain milestone during the funding period. First being an Arcade Mode which is said to be a “mixture of tower climbing and a boss rush challenge that will test your skills” while the second piece of content would offer a second playable character, the Wozan. The indigene would be provided its own list of upgrades and a unique story. Could we see this coming following the game’s upcoming release? That is left unknown for the time being as both the developer and publisher wants to have a smooth launch before thinking into what is next.

Outbuddies is scheduled to release October 2019 for PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. You can go to the game’s Steam page and add it to your wishlist if you are interested in the title by going here.


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