2D puzzle-platformers can quickly grow stale for me. Unless there’s an innovative mechanic or engaging story, most games in the genre lose my attention. However, Nerd Monkey’s Out of Line aims to liven up the formula with an interesting spear and boomerang mechanic and gorgeous art design. It looks to be a standout platformer, even to someone like me.
Out of Line weaves the tale of a (presumably) post-apocalyptic world overrun by mysterious and terrifying mechanical claws. The player assumes control of San, one of the lone survivors.
The art design here is stunning. Utilizing a watercolor hand-drawn esthetic, Out of Line’s robust visuals are more than enough to make it stand out. The ominous soundtrack also perfectly reflects San’s dire predicament, and constantly raises the stakes by setting an eerie tone. And the music that plays when a claw hones in on San? Terrifying.
Gameplay emphasis is placed more on puzzle-solving than platforming. San wields a spear that has a multitude of utilities, such as sticking into walls to create steps used to leap to higher ledges, hitting out-of-reach buttons, and as a handle to activate levers. The spear can also be recalled at any time, which opens up a plethora of puzzle-solving potential. For example, San can toss his spear into turning gears to prevent a boulder from falling on him, and then recall the spear once he is safely across.
Utilizing this mechanic, puzzles can grow especially intuitive, and increasingly-so when additional mechanics are introduced, such as a second throwable spear.
My favorite moment of the preview content was working in tandem with a secondary version of San to help both reach their intended destination (which begs the question, who is this unexplained second San?) Though the demo is relatively short and can be completed in under an hour, my expectations are high for late-game challenges based on the solid initial level design.
Out of Line is a mystifying yet inviting experience. It drew me in with its lovely presentation and kept my attention with intuitive mechanics. The demo also concludes on quite a cliffhanger — my intrigue levels are up! Those on the lookout for interesting, fresh puzzle-platformers should keep their eye on this one.