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Game Info:

Lost in Outer Space
Developed By: White Box Gaming
Published By: White Box Gaming
Released: Dec 22, 2020
Available On: Android, Linux, macOS, Windows
Genre: Shoot ‘em Up
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Number of Players: Single Player
Price: $4.95

Thank you White Box Gaming for sending us a review code!

Lost in Outer Space has one of the weirdest methods of installation and at first, it didn’t make sense to me. I thought it was a method of DRM (digital rights management) and it kinda is, but it goes beyond just making sure people do not illegitimately obtain it. As one can guess, this game is not available through Steam or any other popular digital storefront. It is only available through White Box Gaming’s website—and after receiving payment, you are given a username (typically your email address) and a password to log in when LOS boots up.

Lost in Outer Space is a vertical-scrolling shoot ‘em up, with a few RPG elements sprinkled here and there. The general plot is that a human space crew, lead by Captain Kawryne, finds themselves far away from their home planet of Mars. The group come across a shop keeper named Ovit and wrap themselves up in a galactic war—when all they want to do is go home.

The actual gameplay is very simple. Some shoot ‘em ups can go rather crazy in terms of their mechanics. In this one, all you do is dodge ships, asteroids, and blast them both to the void of space! There are no screen-clearing bombs or alternative missile fire. Just you, and your lasers against the universe. Controlling your ship is either by keyboard/gamepad or by mouse. However, the default setting of keyboard controls is pretty awful. It’s like sliding a greased pig across an ice-skating rink! It is best to immediately switch controls to mouse. Not only is it all controlled by one hand, but ship movement is a lot smoother and reactive.

The objective for the most part requires you to destroy a set number of ships. Although the exact number is never specified, some levels only require a few dozen while other levels require over one hundred. Most ships perish in about a half-dozen or so shots. It can feel samey and repetitive because all but two levels are of the destroying variety. Unfortunately, the two levels that are different drag out for way too long. They are asteroid levels and are effectively timed missions, as your only choices are to dodge or destroy the asteroids barreling towards you until the allotted time passes.

Lost in Outer Space
Highlights:

Strong Points: Cool ship designs; a universal inventory system that applies to White Box Gaming’s other games
Weak Points: Loud sound effects/music; lack of options menu; keyboard controls are slippery; microtransactions
Moral Warnings: Polyamorous relationships; spaceship violence; descriptions of torture; partial cleavage; homosexuality; some crude and blasphemous language

In between these levels are scenes demonstrated by dialogue boxes and character portraits. The font and text boxes might be hard to see on smaller screens so it's best to play it on a large or high-quality TV or monitor. You’ll come across many different characters, namely the crew of the ship which include Captain Kawryne, Micah, Ovit, Nova, Emma, and a few others like Aquarius. Ovit, even though she is introduced a few levels into the game, contributes to a lot of the dialogue and story. She tends to mock humans by calling them smelly, but deep down cares for the crew. There is plenty of meta-humor with some of the characters referencing that they are in a video game. The villains are super campy, almost feeling like they were ripped from a Saturday morning cartoon. The general tone of the plot discusses some heavy subject matter such as species trafficking, torture, and corrupt government bodies but never goes too grim. I did come across a funny glitch where if your ship is destroyed the exact moment you clear a level, you skip the following scene and go directly to the next level. I actually managed to miss out on the scene that introduces the final boss the first time because of this.

I dig the ship design. The ships both friendly and enemy are sleek. Some of them are a bit blurry in quality. They are well-designed overall. In contrast, the backgrounds only consist of a grey-ish backdrop that sometimes has a baby-blue nebula pass through every once in a while. Considering that this is for the entire game, it ends up being unimpressive.

It is highly recommended to go into your volume mixer and turn down the game volume as there are no options inside the game to do so. The sound effects are loud and in many ways obnoxious. Music consists of simplistic beats that loop after 5 or 6 seconds so many of the pieces are harmed by the fact that these short loops will play on for minutes on end. The music ends up being repetitive because of this. However, there is one piece I didn’t mind, the one that plays through some intermissions as it held this sense of somberness. I feet it captures the vast emptiness of space well.

After every level or even during, you can back out to the main menu to access the shop. With each kill or level completed, you’ll earn copper coins which you can give to Ovit to exchange for upgrades for the ship such as more health, more damage, or faster movement. It’s simple and to the point. Copper coins themselves are pretty bugged as the method of earning them is inconsistent, and the prices in the store are double the amount displayed. So an upgrade for 1000 copper coins is actually 2000 copper coins, but they let you purchase it for 1000 coins. If you have less than 2000 coins, you’ll go into the negatives. It doesn’t really matter as it’s very easy to get out of the negatives. There are moments in the story where the ship gets free upgrades so one does not have to be wholly reliant on this menu.

A weird aspect of LOS is that it has microtransactions. Without spending extra money, you only have access to the default ship and laser cosmetics. The premium currency, known as WBG coins are bought through White Box Gaming’s website and not ingame, and can also be used towards upgrades—although it’s mostly for cosmetic purpose. It technically can make the game “pay2win” but you really shouldn’t need to spend ingame money to beat LOS. By playing White Box Gaming’s games, you can even earn their premium currency by simply playing.

Lost in Outer Space
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 53%
Gameplay 10/20
Graphics 6/10
Sound 4/10
Stability 4/5
Controls 2.5/5

Morality Score - 76%
Violence 7/10
Language 5/10
Sexual Content 8.5/10
Occult/Supernatural 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 7.5/10

I’m somewhat against microtransactions in games that I already pay a price to get into, but the microtransactions play a part in a system that I feel is wonderful. So what White Box Gaming implements into their games is a universal inventory system. You can obtain items throughout all of their games that can be used for other games too, and this also applies to their microtransactions. The fact that progress in one game can apply for another game is something else and makes me question that if a small indie team can do it, how come these massive teams of 500+ employees can’t do it?

Compared to most shoot ‘em ups, there are a bit more moral concerns than average. There are the typical spaceship violence and explosions. However, through dialogue, there is a bit more. Some more violent descriptions such as torture via beatings and drugs are stated. On one planet, one alien species takes part in polygamous relationships. One of the crew members takes part in a homosexual relationship. From what I see in some character portraits, Ovit and Aquarius seem to be naked. It’s hard to tell as their character portraits only show their face and part of their upper body, but from what I can see Ovit and Aquarius show off partial cleavage. When it comes to language, there is some crude language such as a character using "fart" to describe an action, and one instance of blasphemy where one character asks "what is that God awful smell?"

Lost in Outer Space is such a strange game for me. There are plenty of flaws that cannot be ignored. The music and sound effects are annoying, the upgrade system is a bit buggy, and the keyboard controls are nearly unusable. Even with all of this stated, I somehow did not dislike the game. Theoretically, it is a middle-of-the-road game that maybe a few would like, but I guess I’m just part of those few. It isn’t too crazy on morality either as all of the most concerning parts can be skipped over as it is through dialogue. The spaceship battles can get intense in the later levels with the sheer number of obstacles on screen and that kept me entertained enough to see through its 40 levels. And I do genuinely enjoy the universal inventory system and crazy characters. Everyone must have that guilty pleasure game out there and Lost in Outer Space manages to be mine.

About the Author

Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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