The hardships of Outward add high stakes to even the smallest journeys

GOTY 2019

(Image credit: Future)

Accompanying our team-selected Game of the Year Awards for 2019, individual members of the PC Gamer team will each discuss one of their favorite games from the last 12 months. We’ll post a new personal pick, alongside our main awards, throughout the month of December.

Outward does things differently than most games, beginning with what happens when you lose a fight. In the fantasy RPG from Nine Dots Studio, you don’t die when your hit points drop to zero (unless you’re using the permadeath mode added back in October). Instead, you fall unconscious and wake up somewhere else. A mysterious benefactor may have dragged you to a warm campfire, a passing traveler may have carried you to a town, or you might wake up in a bandit’s prison, dazed and battered, and have to stealthily gather your gear and escape.

These outcomes result in losing some time, consuming some precious supplies to return yourself to good health, and having to travel—sometimes a considerable distance—to get back to the fight you lost just to try again. Which in a way, makes falling unconscious much more punishing than simply dying and reloading a saved game.