If you haven't played this game, don't read this post, as exploration is the only drive of the game, there's not much other gameplay, thus it would ruin the game for you if you knew how the game works
I disliked outer wilds a lot. Having finished it after 6-7 hours, I can say that I only liked about 1 and a half of those.
Why? Because the time loop mechanic is poorly utilized and creates frustrating gameplay.
There aren't many puzzles in this game, and those that are there are purposefully designed to be tricky to guess on your own, the only way to do so is to read an in game text about the solution and connecting the dots. That might sounds exciting to all you detectives out there, but it really isn't because since the game is designed to be completed in a non linear fashion, they have to ensure that the most useful informations to get you on a path are repeated throughout multiple texts throughout all the worlds, making reading most stuff redundant.
At the same time, they have to block some late game informations in some ways in order to make sure that you don't accidentally finish the game in under 20 minutes, but the way they often do so is simply through "time gates", meaning that you have to know to be in a certain spot at a certain time, not too soon or not too late, and that information you might end up getting might either be already obvious if you were observant or not really important. This will lead of course to frustrating gameplay, because you'll end up missing windows a couple of times or maybe not quite figuring things out immediately thus you'll be forced to spend an hour just to get a single entry in your log that isn't really helpful in any way.
And that's what really frustrating, especially since arguably the most lore heavy planet is the one that relies the most on annoying time gates.
I spent at least a 4th of my playthrough just standing around waiting for something to happen or stop happening, and it isn't fun when nothing of real value is discovered. It might be my fault for poor planning or that I didn't fully realize how to get to places but the game punishes your errors with a LOT OF TIME WASTED, and it makes for a frustrating experience
Examples of frustrating puzzles:
Sun Station. They talk about this for the longest time and it feels like it's this hard to get to place with very important info inside! And it took me quite a while to find the entrance to the place (time gated, of course) which is also quite tricky to get to even once you realize where it is, since there's a high risk of dying there (but if you die there's the time gate again). You finally get there, it looks cool, but the info you get might be interesting lore wise but not much progression wise.
Same thing for the core of the sand planet, I knew where I should be and when (because this was time gated too), but there was some obstacle that I had to figure out how to avoid. I took me some tries, but I solved this on my own, but it took way too long for every window of opportunity to show up.
Finally, the Tower of Quantum Knowledge has the most frustrating time gates of them all, since it's so close to the end of the loop that you have to hurry up or you'll end up missing something important. The same thing goes for the Black Hole Forge.
The interloper too is an entirely basically pointless part of the game, time gated of course, and if you're unlucky the interloper could take a bath inside the sun and make you lose all your progress.
i like the idea, really, it just needs way more polishingand way less time gates and more complex planets.
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