Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Outcast

Go To
A surprisingly, amazingly good third-person adventure, Outcast was noteworthy for its time for a host of innovative and effective game developments, almost all of which sadly reduced its chances in the marketplace. It had the bad luck to use unusual rendering method widely called "voxels"note  to generate a wide-open, go-anywhere play world... just when 3D accelerators based on rendering polygons got really popular.note  It had a deep story, with good writing... just as Internet-based deathmatches with Excuse Plots became popular. It had a full orchestral — and we mean orchestral, as in "a big bunch of real musicians" — score, in a time when techno or rock was almost required on any game's soundtrack.

You, as Cutter Slade, are sucked into an alternate world, Adelpha, after a physics experiment Gone Horribly Wrong, along with several researchers: William Kauffman, the head of the project who believes in an infinite number of parallel universes; Anthony Xue, his partner who is responsible for the energy requirements, and Marion Wolfe, a former journalist and daughter of the senator who, after a botched paradrop exercise, essentially forced Cutter into retirement. Your character winds up in an alternate world, with a vaguely medieval society of aliens called the Talan going about their business, who immediately begin to revere him as their messiah, the Ulukai. Oddly enough, though, they all speak English when talking to you. The merchants sell ammunition that fits your guns. And there's an in-universe reason for all of that...

A sequel was planned, but before development could really get off the ground, the company went bankrupt. This website preserves what little remains from the original sequel's development materials, including a design doc draft. A fan-made, open source sequel entitled Open Outcast is currently in development by a group of enthusiasts. And in April of 2014, several of the original devs started a Kickstarter project to fund an HD remake of the first game, with eventual hopes to develop a sequel. While said Kickstarter didn't succeed, the developers created a remake, titled Outcast: Second Contact, which was released on November 14, 2017. The trailer for the remake can be watch here. A sequel was finally announced in 2021, titled Outcast: A New Beginning, to be released on March 15, 2024.

Now sold on GOG and Steam, if you missed out the first time around. With the digital releases, the game was updated to run smoothly on modern-day computers with higher resolutions, an improved HUD and gamepad-friendly control options.

This game provides examples of the following:

  • Abnormal Ammo:
    • Certain Talan would make ammunition for your weapons.
    • From what we are told, the weapons the soldier Talan fire at you are basically channeling their lifeforce.
  • Action Genre Hero Guy: Cutter Slade is a pretty straight-forward example being a brown haired, white dude of muscular build, as well as a semi-retired special forces operator, with a somewhat cynical worldview and a snarky sense of humor.
  • Actor Allusion: Cutter Slade looks remarkably like Bruce Willis. In the German dub he is even voiced by Manfred Lehmann, the most often-used German synchron voice for Bruce Willis.
  • Age Lift: Major Vernon looks a lot older in Second Contact, going from a middle aged man with black hair, to an old man with a white beard.
  • Alien Sky: Two moons, and two suns. There's also an occurrence where both moons can eclipse both suns at the same time.
  • Aliens Speaking English: They have their own language, and some words from it are used prominently throughout the game, but for the most part everyone you talk to speaks English. Justified by Kauffman and Xue teaching them English when they arrived many years before
  • Alternate Universe: Attempting to find one is part of the game's story. The entire game takes place in one, called Adelpha.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Fail the sneaking test at the beginning of the game enough times, and the Talan overseeing it will offer to say you passed it anyway. Which is appreciated, as the AI's detection can be dodgy, and you've barely had time to familiarize yourself with the game mechanics.
    • In the remake, the Talan language is automatically translated in the subtitles, which means you no longer have to learn and remember it. If you prefer to do so, however, there is also an option to turn off the translations.
    • In the remake the minimap only shows Talan who are unique NPCs (plus the enemies). When expanded to full screen, the map even shows names and short descriptions of the highlighted Talan.
  • Apocalypse How: Damaging the probe sent to Adelpha causes a black hole to start forming on Earth, which will cause a Class X if the team doesn't fix it in time.
  • Artificial Brilliance: The game featured extremely advanced Video Game A.I. for its day. The enemies would attempt to flank the player, hide themselves behind cover (though without Gears of War sticky cover), call for reinforcements and flee if they felt completely outgunned.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Averted. The enemies would attempt to flee if they were losing the battle hard enough.
  • Badass Normal / Retired Badass: Cutter Slade is a former US Navy SEAL.
  • Bag of Holding: Cutter's backpack holds an amazing amount of supplies; lampshaded in one of the "outtakes". Justified (or handwaved) by it being a nanominaturisation backpack, complete with accompanying sound effects.
  • Bald of Evil: Anthony Xue.
  • "Begone" Bribe: The only way to get the street musicians in Okriana to shut up.
  • Big Bad: Fae Rhan who is actually Anthony Xue.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Cutter manages to repair the probe and liberate Adelpha from the tyranny of Fae Rhan. But Wolfe and Kaufmann are both dead at Xue's hands and it's possible the probe still caused some damage to Earth. Cutter returns to an uncertain Earth all alone.
  • Border Patrol: In the form of sinking into mud or sand in Shamazaar and Talanzaar, and predatory fish in Okasankaar.
  • Boring, but Practical: The HK-P12 pistol. Unlike all the other weapons, which have some kind of gimmick and are expensive for both upgrades and ammo, the pistol is straight forward to use and inexpensive. It'll be your mainstay weapon for most of the game.
  • Branch-and-Bottleneck Plot Structure: Your primary objective in the game is to collect five integrated circuits needed to repair the probe whose malfunction opened the wormhole that threatens to destroy the Earth. You do so by going to and completing a lengthy quest in each of five regions of the game world — in other words, Outcast had implemented the (in)famous "BioWare formula" full four years before Knights of the Old Republic. Also, in a probably-not-coincidental bit of meta-humornote , the native Talan call these circuits "Mon" — and you Gotta Catch Them All.
  • Brick Joke:
    • From the intro:
      Major Vernon: We sent a probe through the boundaries separating us from the other dimensions.
      Cutter: Really. Where'd you wind up, Belgium?
    • Then much later, when Cutter is waiting for a town meeting to finish in Okasankaar, a watery region where fishing is the main industry.
      Cutter: Humidity... two hundred percent. I was right, this is Belgium.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Yod = God. Zort = Shit. Zorkins = Money. Shamaz = Priest. Daoka = Portal. That only scratches the surface of the terminology you'll be bombarded with from early on. There's even an ingame lexicon for everything.
  • Character Level: Inverted! Apart from upgrading (some of) Cutter's weapons, you cannot actually make him more powerful in any way. You can, however, make most common enemies (read: soldiers) in the game much weaker by subverting Fae Rhan's power structures across the world: convincing the farmers of Shamazaar and the fishermen of Okasankaar to stop feeding the soldiers reduces their HP bars to a half and then to a quarter; making the miners of Motazaar go on strike makes the soldiers' weapons do much less damage; and persuading the traders of Okriana to stop paying taxes removes a lot of the remaining soldiers from the game altogether.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: At least in Second Contact, non-generic Talan are highlighted on your radar/minimap according to their essence: Fae Talan (flame essence; soldiers, but also, confusingly, Dolotai Guardians and hunters) are highlighted red, Eluee (water; mainly merchants) are purplish blue, Gandha (earth; pretty much everyone else) are dark green, and Ka (air; the Shamaz) are light grey. Finally, twon-ha are bright green while various wildlife and Oogoobar are dark grey.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Hopping over a river of lava is a-okay, as long as you don't touch it (and even if you do, your Deflector Shields will take the brunt of the damage). Subverted in a single lava cave in Okasankaar, where the computer warns you of hazardous atmospheric effects and you continuously lose health as long as you are inside.
  • Dance Party Ending: If you get enough completion percentage.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cutter has lots of this. He repeatedly has to hold it back because the locals do not always fully grasp what he means and are just confused.
  • Dialog During Gameplay: Enemy soldiers remain on patrol while you speak with other Talan. If they spot you, it's an emergency break into combat, requiring the conversation to be started from the beginning. This doesn't seem to cause item duplication, as traded items seem to get returned to the previous owner.
  • The Dragon: Kroax, the leader of Fae Rhan's soldiers and a formidable fighter himself. You first run into him in Okasankaar, but he flees before he is defeated, so you can kill him later on during the Final Battle.
  • Easter Egg: Second Contact adds two small out of the way areas. One contains a statue of what appears to be a female Talan. The other seems to show what the Ulukai symbol actually means: It is a stylized representation of two bodies exerting radial fields around them, with a path in between for something to pass through.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Xue, again, when he kills William Kauffman and becomes Fae Rhan.
  • Fan Sequel: open Outcast, a total conversion for the CryTech3 engine.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Since Fae Rhan took over, ecological disasters have followed. The game never makes it clear whether it actually is the Yods (essentially Talan gods) expressing their displeasure, or a natural consequence of the exploitative industrial and agricultural practices instated.
  • Girly Run: Marion does not walk or run. She flounces, and then flounces faster. Cutter has a strange gait too.
  • Hand Cannon: Every gun that Cutter has is an over-sized pistol and he uses all the guns with a single hand. Almost all of them pack tremendous power, your main gun in the game is a massive machine pistol that shoots tracer bullets and your guns just go up from there.
  • Hide Your Children: The island of Kizaar is not accessible to the player. On that island, the females and youth live there — the only time Talan males are allowed is if they are a Shamaz, or during mating season every few hundred moons.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Outcast Outtakes, which showed the game as an in-development film. look here
  • Humanoid Aliens: The Talan are humanoid in appearance, albeit with inhumanly elongated skulls and only two fingers per limb.
  • Incessant Music Madness: Some of the musicians play their songs off-key. Slade can pay them to stop playing.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: You can talk to the locksmith responsible. He tells you he can't stop the tyrant's soldiers from having keys that unlock every door, but he can equip them with the flimsiest crap he can.
  • Interface Screw: In the Steam version, the game tracks statistics for progress towards achievements, with achievement progress notifications appearing each time the stat is updated (even during combat). The achievement notifications appear in the top-right corner, which overlaps the Health Meter, making it harder to tell at a quick glance on whether or not you should flee.
  • Jerkass: Professor Anthony Xue. In the opening movie he's rude and egotistical to Kauffman and Cutter, and one of the news reports that can be heard at the beginning mentions that he was barely found "not guilty" for the deaths of a dozen lab assistants when his experimental fusion reactor at M.I.T. blew up due to rushed construction. It's not a huge surprise he ends up becoming a tyrant in the alternate world.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Cutter can be this, mostly in early cutscenes with Wolfe.
  • Justified Save Point: The Gaamsaav crystal "saves your essence" according to an in-game explanation. It also needs some time to charge (effectively preventing its use during combat) and is bright and loud enough to attract patrolling soldiers (effectively preventing its use during stealth sections). On top of that, being hit while saving cancels it, as that "disrupts the energies".
  • Karma Meter: Help the Talan and your reputation will improve. Hurt and kill the Talan and it worsens. If it bottoms out, Talan will be openly unhelpful and prevent you from learning enough to make any progress. The better it is, the cheaper you can buy your equipment back (see No Hero Discount) and the more you'll be able to sell certain items for.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: You can ask one specific beggar in Okriana about the story of how he fell on hard times, and he will say it is a long story and ask if you are sure you want to hear it. If you press a button to skip his speech after this point he will note you are bored by his story and stop telling it. You can ask him again, and if you do listen through it all in real time, he will reward you just for giving your attention and patience.
  • Literal-Minded: Talan tend to be confused whenever Cutter uses a figure of speech, which is due to them lacking knowledge of all the intricacies of the English language. Same goes for his numerous instances of sarcasm.
  • Never My Fault: Anthony Xue explodes at the mere implication that he might possibly be even partially responsible for the probe's failure. Upon arriving at the alternate world, he comes to believe that the expedition team missed the probe by 5000 years and writes off Earth, killing Kauffman and dedicating himself to taking over the alternate world instead. When Cutter confronts him with the revelation that the probe is actually coming in a couple days and that Xue is the one responsible for damaging it in the first place, Xue completely loses it.
  • No Hero Discount: Averted, though you do have to work for it. The Talan believe you're a Messiah, prophecised to save them from tyranny. This doesn't stop a group of identical merchants, all brothers, from selling your own equipment to you in an attempt to prove to their father that they can make enough money to inherit the family business. However, the items are considered holy relics with protective powers and the safer you make the Talan feel, the less demand there is for them and the prices will be lower.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: If you kill a plot-critical talan, it's essence will not dissipate into the atmosphere normally. Instead it'll chase you forever. Once it catches you, you die.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Talan only ever refer to Cutter as "Ulukai", Kauffman as "Kazar", and Xue as "Fae Rhan".
  • Painfully Slow Projectile: All of Cutter's weapons fire slow moving things, though some are slower than others. The FT-74 in particular is so slow, you can kill yourself by running forward into your own fire.
  • Pet the Dog: Cutter is impatient with those who want him to jump through hoops instead of helping him get on with saving the world, i.e. everyone. But when he meets a Talan who's shaken to the core after just losing a friend to a predator attack, Cutter, being an ex-soldier, is the picture of sympathy and even volunteers to take care of the Talan's NPC business.
  • Precursors: The Ancients, a mythical race which some Talan believe are responsible for the creation of the Daoka and other ancient ruins. According to the myth they were ultimately destroyed by the Yods for over-exploiting the planet. It's never revealed how much of the myth is true, but the Daoka are clearly the product of a technology far beyond the Talan or modern humans.
  • Real After All: Beyond the magic-like powers some Talan have the game's various references to the Yods seem to just be standard religious explanations for regular occurrences, however, the way Fae Rhan's castle is destroyed at the very end suggests they really are real.
  • Scenery Porn: For a world rendered near-entirely with voxels, it's really pretty.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: On the box art, Cutter Slade is about to shoot you.
  • Shout-Out: One musician in the city Okriana will sometimes randomly play the first few notes from a Star Wars song.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Threatening Geography: The game world plays this trope mostly straight, with two notable exceptions: you start the game in the Slippy-Slidey Ice World of Ranzaarnote  and the last region you normally gain access to (after five daoka hops) are The Lost Woods of Okaarnote . From Ranzaar, you can only go to the rather literal Green Hill Zone of Shamazaarnote , which leads to the Shifting Sand Land of Talanzaarnote , from where you have access to the Lethal Lava Land of Motazaar and the Bubblegloop Swamp of Okasankaarnote . Finally, Okaar is accessible only through a remote daoka in Okasankaar and is easily the most hazardous region of the game (except maybe the Big Bad's palace in Talanzaar).
  • Stable Time Loop: Kauffman and Xue end up in Adelpha a few decades before the probe, Cutter or Marion do. In the decades between, Kauffman becomes the prophet Kazar and predicts the arrival of Cutter, the Ulukai; Xue becomes Fae Rahn, has Kazar killed "reverted", and because of how he's encouraged his soldiers to be ultra-violent one of them ends up shooting the probe when it finally arrives, causing the whole mess.
  • Standard FPS Guns: You only get the pistol for free - all the rest you have to find or buy, and then upgrade to make them truly battle-ready.
    • HK-P12: Pistol.
    • UZA-SH1: Automatic. Bullets ricochet when the gun is upgraded.
    • LN-Duo 500: Grenade Launcher.
    • FT-74: Flamethrower.
    • SLNT-B: Marksman gun, inflicts poison.
    • HAWK-MK8: Energy Gun. Can be a real Game-Breaker when fully upgraded because it fires one-hit kill blasts about as quickly as you can click.
  • Statuesque Stunner: In Second Contact Marion is just as tall, if not slightly taller than Cutter. In the original version she was clearly a few inches shorter.
  • Take That, Audience!: If the player reaches the 100% Completion, Slade calls their out for expecting some cool things and for being a lazy person who cannot achieve anything in their life as they should turn off the game and go outside, for example.
Cutter Slade: "Psst! Hey, You. Yeah, the one with food stains on your shirt. You can turn the game off now, you beat it. Yeah, you did every single thing you could do in the game. You're the hero, you're the shit, you're the man. Bla Bla Bla. What did you expect, something extraordinary? 1000 girls in tight clothes coming out, dancing the can-can for you? Well, forget it. My guess is you either cheated somewhere along the line or you bought some guide to play this. No one could be as good as you think you are, so forget it. You're not getting a single thing. Nope. You can forget it. Now just shut this off and do something constructive with your computer, for Christ's sake. Write a novel, catch up on those Christmas cards you keep putting off, or just shut it off and take a walk. Do your heart some good for once, you chip-scarfing couch plant. Ahhhh, forget it. You never listen to adults, why start now, uh? Fine. Watch the screen. Hope for something incredible. Me, I'm heading home."
  • The Lifestream: Essentially how essences worked.
  • Take Your Time: While the premise is that an interdimensional vortex will destroy the earth in a matter of weeks, you are under no time limit in the game. This ends up being justified.
  • Title Drop: In the remote region of Okaar you can find at the bottom of a lake what appears to be a human-made pod with the words "Project Outcast" on its side.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: It was released in 1999 and set in 2007. In addition to the artificial wormhole, Cutter's equipment includes several significant technological advances, including some kind of miniaturization technology to justify his Hyperspace Arsenal, and some kind of very powerful man-portable energy beam weapon.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Justified, as the weapons of hostile Talan function by channeling their essence into a weaponized form, which Slade lacks.
  • Warp Whistle: The Daokas, which allow teleportation between the different regions of Adelpha. There are also F-Links, beacons that allow you to teleport within one region.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Killing Talan, if it didn't cause a Non-Standard Game Over, would make others verbally abuse you and refrain from giving you any help. This made it impossible to progress in the game or improve your reputation.