Is it time to start calling blocky games Minecraft-likes? I can't say I've seen too many in the past that have successfully channelled Mojang's charming survival adventure, but Outerverse is a pretty impressive take built on Minecraft's blocky shoulders. As well as that, it draws some inspiration from boss elements of Valheim, as well as the world automation of Factorio and Satisfactory.
If that sounds like an odd combination of elements, it makes much more sense in the hands. Developed by Tbjbu2, Outerverse is kind of like Minecraft in space. Rather than that flat world that goes forever, you spawn on a cubic world which you can explore, build on, mine through, farm on, before creating a little spaceship to find a new planet to explore in your galaxy. I played a little to see just how it performed and was pretty impressed with its potential and how quickly it gets you going on your automation adventure.
You're encouraged to mine, build machines, and eventually improve your character and your repertoire to the point that you can find and take down six different bosses scattered about the universe. These Titans are Valheim in style, as they're all pretty different in body and abilities, and you have to find their counters, like fire, lasers or rockets to make sure you're prepared for the fight.
The machines play a big role, taking over much of the busywork you'd traditionally associate with the survival genre. They'll do everything out-of-the-box but can also be programmed by the player (when starting a world you have the option to play 'manually'). This will disable the machines, automation, logic and wires so you can make everything tick over and behave in exactly the way you want.
From the little chunk I played, I'd describe Outerverse as generous. From the automation focus of the game, making it easier to find mines and get machines doing your bidding, to the huge amount of light a torch throws out, the game wants the player to thrive more than survive. I'm not sure how it scales, but it was a relief when I built the first 'machine', a cave finder, and it did a lot of the mining for me. A line extended from the seven block structure all the way down into the earth, even through a lake in the way the line's path to an open space underground. Outerverse cuts the cruft and wants you to get to the good stuff as soon as possible.
Though I've described it as a cocktail of Minecraft, Factorio, and Valheim, it's a lighter version of each. The explanation of the automation feels a little overwhelming, though there are handy little pictures like LEGO guides explaining how things are built. And the visuals aren't quite as charming or expressive as Minecraft's. Sand is pink, as is iron ore, as were all the animals and some of the enemies I met. But as a very small take on quite a large genre, Outerverse does a pretty excellent job at taking the bits and pieces of each game it likes and moulding them into something I've not seen before.
Outerverse is brand new and so it's worth keeping an eye on future updates as even the little I played was pretty darn fun. And oh, in case you were worried about the name sounding blockchain or NFT-y, Outerverse was already unfortunately caught up in a controversy leading publisher Freedom Games to deny its involvement in any crypto schemes. A scammer used the game as a front for unlucky users to buy tokens. Whoever this was claimed that you could use said tokens in Outerverse but Freedom games quickly made it clear that the website and accounts had nothing to do with the real project.