Indie games are often fascinating magical little gems, full of innovation, creativity and fun. While the scene has been building steam as of late, many of these projects are still swept under the rug in the gaming business. Enter Kickstart MTL, Girls On Games’ way of sending some love towards indie developers who are trying to make it in Montreal’s rich gaming culture.

Today’s Kickstart MTL puts the spotlight on Outward, an open-world RPG developed by Quebec city’s  Nine Dots Studio. Just a quick disclaimer: Technically, this isn’t a Montreal game thus defying the Kickstart MTL premise. It hails from the province’s capital but I decided to make a wee exception in their case since the game really excited me.

UPDATE: Nine Dots has cancelled their slow progressing Kickstarter campaign to focus on alternatives sources of funding. You can read their statement on their Kickstarter page. You can still follow their progress on Steam Greenlight and their official site.

Last night, I attended Execution Labs‘ Winter 2015 Accelerator closing event in which I was able to scope out and demo upcoming and completed indie games, one of which was Nine Dots’ Outward. True-to-core open-world RPGS are in my top 3 favorite gaming genre, and this game fit the bill, hence my willingness to bend “the rules”.

Outward Art - Nine Dot Studio

Outward Art – Nine Dot Studio

“What would it really be like to live the life of an adventurer?”

Alright, so most fantasy RPGs have players embodying a character that has Dovahkiin- levels of badassery. Since visions of an Ultimate Hero – one destined since birth to save the world – is a powerful myth that populates our imaginary, many games within the genre follow that trope. That isn’t to say it’s a bad thing; who doesn’t want to follow the path of becoming a legendary hero? Yet shaking things up is always good. Innovation. Creativity. It’s what keeps the industry exciting. Nine Dots is trying to just that in Outward. They’re building a world in which you simulate the life of adventurer on a solo journey – and by simulating, I mean to literally simulate a life. In order to survive, you need to eat, drink and wear appropriate clothing for the climate in which you find yourself. You can’t simply find water skins or wheels of cheese hidden in barrels and be nourished; you have to hunt and find drinkable water in order to survive.  When night falls, you have to build shelter. These are crucial and necessary day-to-day tasks you need to engage in in order to survive. Fear not, though. There’s still all the exciting elements found within the fantasy world: magic, fantastical beasts, dangerous and dark dungeons, etc.

Outward - Nine Dots Studio

Outward – Nine Dots Studio

The combat is also tricky, and requires preparation. For example, I had to drop my knapsack yesterday in order to barrel roll dodge an opponents attack. Casting spells is also a multiple-step process, and enemies have equal ability to cast spells at the same strength. The game is also fixed in difficulty, barring you from lowering the enemies strength, thus requiring you to plan ahead and be tactical about your attacks. Your stamina also decreases and is only replenished after resting- you can’t just drink a potion and be on your way. Questing is also unique, and requires your diligent attention to complete, or face the consequences of it failing:

“For example, in a quest, you might be tasked to intervene in a dire political conflict between an underpaid mercenary camp and a small mining village controlled by one of the leading factions. The situation is urgent and the outcome will play out with or without you. Ignoring the assignment for too long might result in that village getting razed to the ground by the very monsters the mercenaries were holding off, or someone else might come along to resolve the situation”

Outward - Nine Dots Studio

Outward – Nine Dots Studio

My favorite part by far, which I got to experience first hand yesterday, is the option to play split screen co-op. The inability to play a couch-coop RPG is something I’ve always lamented. I’m not the biggest fan of MMOs and while I enjoy the solo immersion the genre provides, it’s really fun to be able to share the experience with someone. Outward offers that, and it works really well. While in split screen, you’re also able to go off on your own, which is great for someone like me who insists on searching every nook and cranny for chests and loot (like Borderlands), much to the dismay of whomever I play with. They also offer both offline AND online play, so there is something for everyone.

If you enjoy elements of survival, combat and continuity (where you get to “retire” and pass on your skills and knowledge to your next of kin) set in a world peppered with political turmoil, I highly suggest you head over to their Kickstarter page . They’ve also been Greenlit on Steam, so check them out there as well. As of now, they are aiming to put their game on the following platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Xbox One and Playstation 4.

Oh, did I mention the world is gorgeous? It’s gorgeous. Check out their trailer below: