Out of Line – Review
Follow Genre: Puzzle Platformer
Developer: Nerd Monkeys
Publisher: Hatinh Interactive
Platform: Switch, PC,Xbox One, PS4
Tested on: Switch

Out of Line – Review

Site Score
Good: Atmospheric visuals
Bad: Way too short for the asking price
User Score
(1 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.0/10 (1 vote cast)

When we first laid eyes on Out of Line’s launch trailer, we immediately knew that we were looking at something special. The beautiful visuals drew us in and gameplay wise, it looked like the title would be offering up a unique and interesting twist on the genre. Needless to say, when we got the chance to try out Nerd Monkey’s puzzle platformer we were eager to see whether the game lived up to our initial hype. Having spent some time with Out of Line, how does it hold up compared to our expectations?


Unfortunately, Out of Line misses the mark when it comes to delivering an engaging narrative. Not that the game doesn’t try. The opening scenes show how Out of Line’s hero, San, lives peacefully among sentient glowing cubes, until metal claws, apparently belonging to an off-screen creature, wreak havoc on San’s homeworld. After the title screen shows, San finds himself in a factory of sorts, alongside several creatures that look exactly like him. It’s now up to San to find a way home, freeing cubes he finds along the way.

The issue with the narrative is that no context is provided and things are kept deliberately vague. There is no dialogue in the game either, and any interactions between San and his doubles are limited to waving to one another from a distance. While we generally have no issue with a game that leaves things open to interpretation or omits a story altogether, it simply doesn’t work in this case. There are too many loose story elements present here to ignore them entirely, but the game doesn’t give you the tools necessary to piece everything together either. From a story perspective, Out of Line raises more questions than it answers, and given the alien nature of the world you are meant to explore, this means that it’s difficult to fully immerse yourself in this world. It’s hard to care about something if you don’t even know what is going on.


The hand-drawn character and environment designs are perhaps Out of Line’s best feature. This is a gorgeous-looking title that is only hampered by the Switch’s screen size in handheld mode. Make no mistake, this is a game that is best enjoyed in docked mode where the crisp visuals can really shine. The game uses fairly simple aesthetics but it manages to create an atmosphere that feels equally mysterious and threatening thanks to clever use of perspective and lighting effects. It’s not too taxing on the Switch either and graphical performance is great. Whether it’s the cute design of San and the creatures he encounters or the genuinely creepy claws that burst out of nowhere, every inhabitant of this alien world oozes character.


Out of Line uses a fairly sparse soundscape, with haunting music that is used sparingly, fading in and out where necessary. The music never takes center stage, instead acting as the glue that brings visuals, gameplay and story together. Likewise, ambient sounds help to ground everything together and add heft to the on-screen happenings without distracting from what the game sets out to do. This isn’t a soundtrack that you’ll listen to outside of the game, but it is used to such great effectiveness here that we couldn’t imagine the game’s soundscape to be any different from what’s presented here.


Out of Line is a very short puzzle platformer that is built around a single mechanic. Taking control of San, you tackle a series of single-screen puzzles that involve chucking your spear in order to block gear mechanisms, create levers and construct makeshift platforms. It’s a surprisingly intuitive and clever mechanic. Pressing and holding either ZL or ZR puts the spear in San’s hand, allowing you to aim with the right stick. Releasing ZL or ZR then makes San throw the spear, and tapping the button again will instantly return it to San. This mechanic is Out of Line’s unique selling point, as the rest of the puzzles are par for the course: standing on switches and moving blocks around. Out of Line may not be the most original title when it comes to gameplay, but the puzzle designs are solid and quite fun overall. Some extra longevity is added to the game by hidden cubes, with one of the game’s objectives being to collect all of these.

As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock a handful of upgrades for San’s spear-chucking abilities, including a rope that allows you to create bridges rather than platforms, and disposable spears that can be used alongside your main weapon. These add a little variety to solving puzzles, but the overall structure of each puzzle remains the same throughout the game. It’s a shame then, that Out of Line is such a short game, as it takes between an hour and a half and two hours to complete, and the difficulty never really ramps up either. The game fails to capitalize on the potential of the later mechanics, and is over all too soon. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Out of Line feels more like a proof of concept rather than a full-fledged game, and as such it may not be worth the €11 asking price. On the other hand, what was offered here was engaging enough, gameplay-wise, to leave us wanting more, and our feeling of disappointment came from the fact that it was all over way too soon.


Although we really liked what Out of Line has to offer, we couldn’t help but feel like the asking price for the game is more than a little steep for the amount of content you are getting here. The presentation is wonderful, although the story could have been fleshed out better, and the puzzles are good for what they are, even if they aren’t the most original. Out of Line works as a demonstration of what Nerd Monkeys is capable of but we’d rather have a full meal rather than the appetizer that we’re getting here.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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Out of Line - Review, 4.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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