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  • "The Outer Worlds" is a cruel turn of the lonely hero story in a role-playing game

    Nov. 13, 2019

    Halfway to The Outer Worlds Epic Key EU, the new role-playing game by Obsidian Entertainment, I met a man who played the role of a corporate mascot and whose head was permanently closed in a big spooky moon mask.

    Obsidian is known for creating Fallout: New Vegas, one of the best episodes of the post-apocalyptic Fallout series. Outer Worlds is clearly a spiritual continuation of Fallout, with a similar role-playing system, a retro-futuristic aesthetic and a penchant for black humor. But Outer Worlds also anticipates one of the greatest narrative tensions in spin-offs and dramatizations in general.

    Instead of an Earth inflicted by Mad Max with a Raygun Gothic aesthetic from the 1950s, The Outer Worlds shows a distant future in which the golden age of thief barons never ended. Large companies with names known as "Aunt Cleo" colonized a solar system called Halcyon and turned their planets into nightmare cities, stubborn survival arts or labyrinthine jail. And instead of leaving a safe, its protagonist is a defrosted passenger aboard the Hope, a long-lost ship that seems to contain some of the brightest minds on Earth in floating animations.

    But Outer Worlds doesn't care about false modesty. From the first minute, you are one of the most extraordinary people in the known universe. An eccentric scientist, Phineas Welles, sent you to save Halcyon from a terrible fate. The solar system was irremediably managed by corrupt leadership.

    The Outer Worlds is a political controversy based on the logic of video games. You can read this as a sure meta-text: most role plays talk about Forcing nobility, and Outer Worlds continues. However, in the world, it is also a remarkably dark social comment.

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