Building a Town While Racing Against Extinction
So I played Outlanders.
Outlanders by Pomelo Games is this town-building simulation game. It’s on Apple Arcade and that’s why I played it. I was away from home with only the iPad I bought earlier this year, missing my console but still want to play a game.
I decided to try the Apple Arcade free trial, because, well, it’s free. There are quite a few gems on the platform. I want to write about them when I have the time.
Comparing to the mobile games stuffed with ads and micro-transactions, Apple Arcade as a service offers quality games without distraction.
Even on the platform of growing selections, Outlander is one of my favorite.
In Outlanders, you play as a leader who assigns your followers tasks in order to complete the unique goal of each level. One level requires you to build a giant statue made of bread within 180 days, while keeping your growing population alive and happy.
There’s a good amount of challenges if you not familiar with strategy games. Yes, it’s a strategy game under the facade of a town building simulator. It’s a welcome surprise.
For each level, you have to complete a certain objective before a set timeframe. There is an urgency to it. Sometimes it’s stressful. I’m not entirely new to the genre and failed the later levels several times.
Your follower gets hungry if there isn’t enough food, and they will die if they’ve been hungry for too long. They will riot if they are unhappy.
It’s not something you play to relax too, as it keeps you on your toe. There are moments you can lean back, though, and just watch your followers do your bidding.
The game is fair. You know exactly what you did wrong if you fail because there are hard rules you have to abide by.
What do you get at the end? Like most single-player games, you play for the amazing journey, not the destination. There’s immense satisfaction once you complete a level.
The art is gorgeous. The music is, too. I encountered no noticeable glitches. It’s good for a mobile game.
All of this is packed into a sometimes relaxing sometimes tense experience.
The basic mechanism is taught on a simple tutorial island. It’s one of those games that’s easy to learn but takes time to master. The game doesn’t hold your hand, instead, there are things you figure out by trials and error. Like many strategy games, learning about how to win is part of the fun.
A lot of games that take place on a farm or village tend to get boring after the rush of a “shiny new game” wears off.
This one, however, because of the clear objective and harsh rules, you have to constantly move forward. You aren’t meaninglessly drifting through the days. You have a tribe of people to keep alive.
You watch life unfold at x5 speed. Townspeople go about the daily duty you assigned. You have the satisfaction of the god’s eye view. You plan out where to forage and where to gather wood. You know what is growing and you know when a town-folk dies of old age.
What is routine to these digital lives is news to you. You know the rules of the universe, and you get to decide when to let what go.