When I played Outer Wilds earlier this year, it quickly became one of my favorite games of all time, where you must solve the mysteries of your solar system in a 22-minute time limit that always ends in a supernova. Progression was tied solely to knowledge gained throughout your adventure, so if you knew what you were doing, you could beat the game in roughly 30 minutes. This made for one of the most amazing gaming experiences I’ve had in recent memory…that I’ll never be able to play again. Fortunately, to make up for being one of the least replayable games in existence, we were recently blessed with DLC called Echoes of the Eye. So was it able to fill the Outer Wilds-shaped void in my heart? Well, read on to find out.
I am going to be as vague as I can because this game and its DLC should be played completely spoiler-free. But I can at least tell you how it begins. After installing the DLC (which didn’t work until after I installed this patch that I found in my PS4’s Notifications section…), you are informed that there is a new exhibit in the Timber Hearth museum. Once you visit the exhibit and follow your first clue, you discover that a mysterious object has been seen passing over the sun. So obviously, your very first goal will be finding out what this thing is and how to reach it.
The new location is quite stunning and introduces some interesting new lore that becomes even more compelling, and heartbreaking, the more you piece together. It’s also nice that they found a new way to present this lore that doesn’t involve all the reading found in the main game. I’m all for relaxing with a good story, but not when I have 22 minutes before I’m roasted by the sun, thank you very much. In a fashion similar to Brittle Hollow and the Hourglass Twins, this new world also has a cycle that it goes through that will affect your exploration.
Okay, it’s hard to talk about this without revealing spoilers of any kind, but during the first half of my experience, I started to get a bit bored. There was, in fact, a massive portion of this new world that I was missing, and up until that point, I was starting to question if the DLC was truly worth it. Until a very important discovery was made, and the game became so much more intriguing. You’ll know it when you see it…when a whole new…world of sorts opens up to you. So absolutely don’t give up before you’ve found it!
I also sometimes felt myself frustrated by the 22-minute time limit. Whenever the supernova would end my exploration, I would have to travel all the way back to where I left off before I could continue my investigation, and it really started to get old after a while. In fact, I read comments from other players who felt the same as me. Sure, this was always the way Outer Wilds was, so I’m not sure why it felt more annoying this time around. Perhaps it felt like a mechanic that should have remained unique to the main game. Or perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with a time limit anymore after not playing the game for months.
Now that I have completed Echoes of the Eye, however, I can say that the time limit is completely necessary. The whole cycle this world goes through becomes even more interesting once you discover that “second half”, and by the end, there were puzzle solutions that simply would not have worked without that time limit.
One more thing, and I hope this isn’t a spoiler, but a lot of people said they didn’t enjoy the stealth sections later on. And at first, I had to agree. They were…very stressful and akin to…something else people really didn’t like in the first game (though the consequences of failure are far less dire in the DLC). But once again, finishing the game has given me greater insight, and now I don’t really mind the stealth. It was actually kind of fun to have these tense moments, and the feeling of relief once it was over made it that much more satisfying. Just let me give you a quick, vague tip: don’t be afraid to illuminate your surroundings. Keep your distance, and you’ll be fine.
My experience with Echoes of the Eye was quite the roller coaster of ups and down, alternating between frustration and the thrill of discovery. Despite plenty of complaining when I was dealing with the former, once I reached the final leg of my adventure, everything had come together so brilliantly that all of my aggravation was more than worth it. It felt as if I began the DLC looking at a pile of random scraps and thinking to myself, “I don’t get the point of this”. And then the scraps are assembled to create something amazing and meaningful, and I am baffled that I couldn’t appreciate it before.
Outer Wilds is a game unlike any other, and Echoes of the Eye did an excellent job following in the main game’s footsteps. The DLC has some great puzzles, an interesting world to explore that changes over time, and a story that, by the end, might make you shed a tear or two. The biggest issue is the game crashes people have been experiencing when you use the scout launcher in the PS4 version, so there might be two locations where you shouldn’t feel guilty if you have to look online for the answers (I did). At only $15, this is one experience you simply can’t miss. And even though this game isn’t exactly replayable, you certainly won’t forget it, either!