The Switch (hereafter referred to as ‘Switch’) was released to much fanfare and hype. Consisting of two screens, one in a tablet size and the other in a display size reminiscent of the Wii remote, the Switch is the most innovative console in a number of years. Though the games themselves are more or less the same, it is the Switch’s main selling point: the ability to continue a game on both the handheld and television screen, which is something that has never been done before.

In a market where the Switch is the only game in town for local multiplayer, and the Xbox One and PS4 are getting their own dedicated multiplayer titles, reviewers will be scrutinizing everything out of the gates. For Switch, the first party titles have been pretty solid, but the indie scene has been a bit less impressive.

One of the most memorable and recognized subgenres of indiegaming is the puzzle platformer, under which lies an even more specific niche that I like to call the genre of the little kid running away from impending danger. The best known games of this name are Little Nightmares, Limbo and Inside, but numerous other games have tried to follow in their footsteps, often without success. I’ll be honest: As much as I enjoy Playdead’s games, I get bored when most of what they have to offer consists of running to the right and occasionally hitting a square or a switch to solve a puzzle. Few games in this genre manage to stand out with their own ideas. Fortunately, Out of Bounds is one of the few films that succeeds in doing so.

Hi Mark, how was your weekend? Ready for a new work week?

Out of Line has a plot, but it’s not the strongest aspect of the film. You control a clone worker named San, and your goal is to escape from a dark and oppressive factory run by evil machines that will not hesitate to kill you if necessary. Along the way, you help and get help from other similar factory workers. Out of Line never explains the reasons for its premise, but you don’t have to think long to associate it with toxic postmodern labor conditions and rampant consumerism. Again, not the most creative premise or amazing plot in an indie game. However, there are other elements that compensate for these disadvantages.

Because Out of Line is a platform and puzzle game, it’s mostly about moving right, shifting blocks and flipping switches to reach the next puzzle. However, there is an additional game element here that leads to additional and inventive puzzles: the spear. San can conjure up a small spear and use it to make platforms, like a makeshift airplane to control mechanisms, stop gears, etc.

It’s nice to see that the assembly line from Attack of the Clones is still in use nineteen years later.

Unfortunately, you can’t attack the robots chasing you with these spears, although I’m sure a well-aimed attack will at least stun them. But the addition of these simple mechanics broadens the scope and possibilities of puzzles in a genre where simplicity (and lack of creativity) often prevails. Aiming with the right stick does not always work well. It’s not yet clear if this was a mistake or just an annoying decision by the designers to make targeting so sensitive.

Out of Line’s gameplay is pretty good, but it’s the presentation that shines the most. The whole game was hand drawn and looked like a living expressionist painting. I also loved the animation of the characters, even if it is quite simple. They fit perfectly with the artistic style. The soundtrack is ubiquitous, if somewhat sparsely orchestrated, but it fits perfectly into the setting of an industrial landscape devoid of art, freedom, life and joy.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure a well aimed spear into the light core of this machine will disable it.

Out of Line is quite short, about three hours, and may not be repeated, but I enjoyed this little ride while it lasted. Not so much because of the subject matter, which can (and probably will) elude everyone, as storytelling is not this game’s strong suit, but I loved the art style, the relaxed difficulty and the original puzzle design.

Out of Line’s beautiful hand-drawn drawing style is without a doubt its greatest asset. The game also runs smoothly on the Switch. While this is another one of those platform games where you can’t defend against hazards, I did like the use of the spear in the puzzle game Out of Line. Unfortunately, sometimes the reticle doesn’t work as well as it should.
The soundtrack is deliberately devoid of instrumentation to give the impression of an industrial landscape devoid of life, art and joy. It’s pretty effective for the subtle message the game is trying to convey. It’s not complicated at all and it’s pretty short, but Out of Line is an entertaining ride while it lasts. It’s a relaxing (and awesome) game that will get you through half the day.
Final decision: 8.0

Out of Line is already available on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

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A copy of Out of Turn was provided by the publisher.


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