‘Outriders’ smiles through the Apocalypse

Half-way Outriders, the player’s character – the “Outrider” – is tasked with finding a lieutenant who has disappeared in one of the vast battlefields that cover the fictional planet of Enoch. The lieutenant is discovered next to a wounded enemy soldier who pleads for his life before being summarily executed by a grenade. The Outrider, who is no stranger to violence himself, watches in dismay as the enemy explodes in a red mess of guts and swollen brains. “War is war,” said the lieutenant. “What? You think we’re just hugging and…” He is interrupted by the crack of a gunshot that knocks him back into place before falling dead to the ground. The Outrider sighs, takes a bit. human matter on his face and mutters, “Why am I bothering? Before they walk away, their mission is over. The gunshots continue to echo in the distance as the fade-to-black fades.”

Outriders, as this sequence clearly shows, has a peculiar tone. It bounces wildly between dark violence and slapstick, serious thoughts on the horrors of war and gossip about the same thing, throughout its plot – and sometimes in a single scene.

The story follows humanity’s attempt to restart civilization on a distant planet called Enoch after Earth collapsed in a final frenzy of world war and environmental catastrophe. Knowing that they have no other home to return to, Earth’s remains arrive on a habitable planet that initially appears as lush and placid as a living Eden. They begin to make it a new home, marveling at its beautiful green fields and blue sky. Then, because these sci-fi descendants have learned little from the inequalities that destroyed the Earth, they implement unjust systems that lead to a new war that turns the once bucolic landscape into a vortex of hell, reminiscent of World War I. , mud-filled trenches lined with mud. with barbed wire and bloody fields wet with carnage and littered with rusty industrial waste.

As the Outrider, an overpowered ex-mercenary who casts spells, shootouts, and largely navigates Enoch slaughtering endless waves of enemies and equipping weapons and armor with ever-increasing stats, this war offers both a natural career path and endless opportunity. gallows humor demonstrations.

Rather than wallowing in the cruelty of a humanity that can’t help but turn its second chance as a species into yet another extraplanetary retread of the worst times in our history, Outriders details his sci-fi pessimism with a sort of ironic acceptance and pulp fiction glee for the stylistic excesses his post-post-apocalyptic offers. (There are many, many alien monsters on Enoch that just love to disintegrate into blood splatters when shot at, and the planet indeed both has a sun and a moon hanging forever in its pocket cover sky.) Its plot, when reduced to a Wikipedia-level summary, reads like a nihilistic commentary on the fate of our species. The way this plot is communicated, however, is through characters brimming with life – also willing to make a joke at the inordinate wickedness of a soldier, heartless murder of a captive before being murdered for no reason in turn, while they are ready to sacrifice their lives in selfless displays of action movie heroism.

This mix of comedy genre thrills and social commentary is more than a little reminiscent of John Carpenter, early James Cameron and Paul Verhoeven. It is not accidental. Game director Bartek Kmita, in an email interview with WIRED, said he “wouldn’t point to a movie or director who had the biggest influence,” but “a mix of all this culture born. in the ’80s’ contributed to the design of the game.’ The gameplay is light and entertaining, ‘says Kmita,’ but … people realize later [that] we are not telling a light story. OutridersThe creators set a precedent for achieving this balance in the style of the 1980s movies that showed creator People Can Fly (2011 developers Bulletstorm, another game notable for its dark sense of humor and action-movie aesthetic,) how to “merge a pretty serious story with very light and brutal gameplay”.

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