Insomniac has released a public beta version of their new Facebook game, Outernauts. As a large Pokemon fan, I have to say this game sure does copy a ton from it, but somehow Insomniac Games has found a way to add their aesthetic while capturing the addictive quality of Pokemon. Here is a quick bite-sized look of my initial experience with the game as first experienced and my take on it after spending a few days in the game.
All players start off by choosing the gender of their Outernaut, a space Pokemon trainer. I decided to be a guy and not a creepy guy pretending to be a girl. I save that for my MMORPGs.
Next I had to choose my starting beast. From there I was introduced to battle and how to capture my monster, which actually was quicker than the beginning of a Pokemon game. The streamlined tutorial was actually a positive compared to Pokemon which has players going through about an hour to get a starter Pokemon and learn to capture one.
After you capture your first beast, players are introduced to a rival who used to be an Outernaut. Battles are the same and players are shown how to switch between their beasts. Then I was whisked away to my home world where my extra beasts reside and I can make fuel for traveling to other planets. This is your home base where you can regroup, gather resources, interact with all your beasts that you have gathered, and decorate it to give it a nice Captain Qwark home-y feel.
Not much was going on so I figured it was time to go to space. Yea space!
There are a few planets available for visit and Forgotten Valley was the choice of location to check out. Wild monsters were visible in the field, ala Chrono Trigger, and would take players into the battle scene. Here a group looking for something for some nefarious plans also made an appearance, I mentioned this game is like Pokemon right?
Players are then introduced to an older character called Starche that used to be a Outernaut but now spends his time fighting off space pirates, a very Insomniac feeling storyline. He offers players to visit him whenever they can, and he also provides missions for players to complete.
But forget that, I am here to level up my monsters and catch them all. From here I spent time battling beasts and a few of the enemies that were around in this area. Once I had enough beasts and acquired a satisfactory amount of levels, I proceeded to face the main villain of the area. Sadly here is where this tale comes to an end as I am required to complete some quests before I shall challenge this foe. But, the game is beginning to sink its claws in me, and being able to play it on most web browsers means that it will be seeing more time invested.
My first impression: this game is essentially Pokemon with the writing of Insomniac Games at work here. That is not a bad thing since the game also finds a way to translate the addictive qualities of monster catching in the game.
Mechanics such as limited energy for the player that is used to interact with the beasts and game world is part of the social side of things and slows things down. Creatures also have stamina and require rest during a battle if they expend it all. These are mechanics that actually require players plan properly for traversing and battling against other beasts.
Players can also purchase additional moves, items, energy, fuel to travel in the player’s space craft, and monster slots (only three provided). Alongside this, there is the ability to send energy, fuel, or other gifts to friends that may be playing the game.
Many Facebook games do not have that addictive charm, but this game has found a sweet spot by borrowing from a game many people are familiar with and spicing it up in the skin of a social game. Personally, I hope this game ends up playable on mobile devices through the Facebook App Store because it is a good game and I really need my beast catching fix.
Pokemon fans would find themselves right at home with this game and it makes for a nice side distraction when your DS or 3DS runs out of juice at home. More time will show how much depth the game has, but from this quick bite of experience with the game it looks like a game to look forward to. Social gaming may not be as looked down upon or in trouble (see Zynga) if more games are able to provide this fun that anyone can get enjoyment out of.