Outshine is a non-endless endless runner crossed with a typing game. And it’s pretty intense.
It surprises me how few action themed typing games there are on PC. Considering how well liked the Typing of the Dead games are, I’d have thought others would have jumped on the bandwagon. I suppose it’s a pretty niche genre, and there’s only so much you can do with typing, but I was fairly pleased to see Outshine come along. Playing much like endless runners in which you dodge chasms and obstacles, you also have to contend with shooting down enemies by typing in words as quickly as possible.
As you run down the five-lane linear path, you can dodge from lane to lane to avoid enemies. These enemies are varied though, and whilst some can be avoided, others will try to track and directly attack you. It’s better to try and take them down by typing the word emblazoned across them. Simple foes tend to have simple three or four letter words, whilst more threatening ones could have six or more, and others still require multiple words to take down. It’s a nice way of keeping things interesting as you play, and you’ll need to prioritise targets to ensure you remain safe.
Those flying foes that spawn indestructible barriers will need to be handled quickly, but you’ll also need to keep an eye out for regular enemies that may block your path. There’s a lot to take in through a level, as you’ll need to pay attention to words all over the screen and also what’s directly in front of you. I regularly hit obstacles and fell into pits due to there being so much on screen at once and whilst I struggled to keep track. Irritatingly, some words will overlap other ones based on their proximity to you, so even if one is a greater threat, you may not be able to see what word is on it until you’ve cleared another enemy.
Things come at you fast in Outshine too, with frequently five plus words coming at you all at once. Thankfully, there are difficulty options that slow down the pace. You’re advised on which to pick based on what your typing speed is, but this is a bit deceptive, as actual typing using given sentences has a much higher speed that typing unrelated words scattered across the screen. I’m a fairly fast typer, but I found myself having to drop the difficulty to keep up.
The game is fairly generous with survivability though. You can take five hits before failing and restarting the section, plus you have a shield you can use to run through obstacles, and a bomb that clears the screen. Even when things were tough, I didn’t mind trying a section again as my health and powers would be restored to give me another shot. There are even powerups you can activate before starting a run to make things easier if you don’t mind getting a lower score, as well as others to increase the challenge.
At the end of each section, you’ll be presented with a wall with sentences written on it that you need to type quickly so you can progress. These sentences present the story of Outshine, concerning a civilisation developing technology and how that has changed the world, for better and worse. It’s pretty simple stuff and won’t have you desperate to find out more. At the end of a stage though, you’ll have a boss to take down in the form of some giant machine. These tend to have longer words for you to type at once, whilst also avoiding multiple attacks. They also offer additional challenges with the words moving around, perhaps ending up backwards, or even entirely out of view. They’re a suitable challenge, but you’ll have to fight the same type over and over as they appear in cycles. I’d have liked some more variety in them, but initially they are quite varied and interesting.
The music is fitting, but it kind of fades into the background whilst you play, which isn’t really a bad thing. The sound effects are good too, but I feel there could have been more feedback when getting hit or typing the wrong letter. The graphics are nice too, with some gorgeous backgrounds, but the screen is very busy with all the enemies and pretty effects. I’d have preferred a more toned down visual style that was easier to keep track of. Sometimes it was difficult to tell which lane on the track targets were in too, making dodging them a little more frustrating than it perhaps should have been. The text is sometimes hard to read too, with D and O appearing as quite similar whilst there’s a lot going on. There’s a nice feature that includes different fonts to help those who struggle with reading certain text styles, but I still found some of them hard to read at high speed. I’d have also liked an option for different dictionaries too, as everything here was an American spelling, forcing me to rethink how I was typing on the fly, leading to errors.
Outshine isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it’s a nice typing game in an otherwise pretty small genre, and one with some nice production values to boot. I’d still say the likes of Typing of the Dead hold up really well and that this isn’t really a huge challenger to its crown but it’s good to have an alternative. If you’re desperate for another typing game then Outshine is a pretty solid option.
Outshine is available now on PC.