Out of Line is a 2D story-focused sidescrolling platformer with clever puzzles based around timing, movement, and the use of a magic spear that can be aimed and used for puzzles and progression. It feels like Out of Line has shared DNA with Playdead’s games, Limbo and Inside but it’s from a different developer entirely. It feels like an original game and it’s uniquely its own thing. It’s more that Playdead kind of created this genre of weird 2D games that have cinematic moments filled with meaningful interactive gameplay between the player’s character and the world around them. Out of Line is as mysterious and strange as it is delightful and inspiring.
Gears of Puzzle
The story itself is something I’m still piecing together and I don’t know if I’ll ever fully know what happened in the game, but it’s part of what makes it special and weird. That applies to Limbo and Inside too. It’s partially that I don’t pick up on some details immediately but it’s also how the three games were meant to be experienced. The stories are intended to be up to each player’s interpretation and that’s something I really like. I know it’s not for everyone but digging through theories, forums, and endless YouTube videos is part of enjoying these games. The discussion with others in conversations or as an observer if you’re looking up what others think are just part of the experience. It keeps them going long after the credits have rolled. I still think about Limbo, even though it came out ten years ago. I just can’t shake it or stop thinking about it. And I think Out of Line will be the same way. No matter what your interpretation may be of the game’s events, I think you’ll enjoy the story that unfolds.
The gameplay of Out of Line is really interesting. The puzzle elements and platforming blend together really well. Protagonist San can throw his magic spear at gears, ledges, and at other locations to use as a step up to an area, to interrupt a platform’s movement, and more. The game also combines platforming and spear mechanics with timing in some smart ways. I didn’t find myself stuck very often but the few times I did were almost always quickly followed up by an audible “a-ha!” before I found the solution and moved on.
Controlling San is smooth and works well. I played on PC with keyboard and mouse but you’re also able to use a controller if you prefer. Arrow keys or WASD work well for character movement and the mouse works for aiming the spear. I was worried about the spear mechanic until I played it in a preview a few months ago. As soon as I saw the spear mechanic mentioned I knew it’d dampen the whole experience if it didn’t work right, regardless of how good the rest of the game was. Thankfully it works really well and it also returns with the click of a button too without a long wait.
The hand-drawn graphics heighten the fantastical elements of this world. The gameplay alone already makes it a worthwhile experience but the presentation amplifies everything so much. Out of Line could have been an addictive puzzle game or an enjoyable platformer but instead, the soundtrack, graphics, and characters wrap the game in a mysterious and meaningful framing.
This is a world I’d like to see more of in a future game but I’d also just be happy to see more games like this from Developer Nerd Monkeys. I’m excited to see more games joining the weird and cinematic 2D sidescroller genre and would recommend Out of Line to anyone looking for a thought-provoking story or good puzzles and platforming.