Outer Terror – Review
Follow Genre: Roguelike, arcade
Developer: Salt & Pixel
Publisher: Ratalaika Games, VoxPop
Platform: PC, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5
Tested on: Switch

Outer Terror – Review

Site Score
Good: Each of the five maps puts its own spin on the gameplay
Bad: No tutorial or in-game explanations
User Score
(0 votes)
Click to vote
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Before we dive into Outer Terror, we have to address one major elephant in the room: Indie developer Salt & Pixel’s game is, for all intents and purposes, a Vampire Survivors-like. That’s not a slight on the game, because it’s always at least interesting to see a different take on a genre-defining game. If this sort of thing never happened, Metroidvania wouldn’t be a genre, and Soulslike wouldn’t be a term. As Picasso’s famous quote goes: ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ Is Salt & Pixel a good artist or a great one then? Let’s find out.


There’s not just one single story here but five, as Outer Terror encompasses an anthology series of different pulp comics, each of which focuses on two different lead characters. That said, we don’t want to oversell these, because each story only serves as a backdrop for each of Outer Terror’s stages. Frostbite sees players not just take on the vampiric forces of an evil queen, but also the harsh conditions of the frozen tundra itself. In Kill Switch, household appliances become sentient and have the extermination of humanity on their mind. Incident Report involves aliens in a secret government facility, and Other Side pits you against killer clowns. Perhaps the most disturbing and goriest story of them all is The Gray Death, in which a mysterious entity creates grotesque new life forms by merging innocent victims together with the aid of fleshy fungal towers. Outer Terror is clearly inspired by 1980’s schlock horror, making for a memorable but low-brow narrative. We should note that the spelling and grammar used in the comics are of dubious quality, although this fits with the overall feeling of low-quality pulp comics.


The striking comic book art style definitely is one of Outer Terror’s standout features. Stories are set up through gorgeous yet gruesome hand-drawn art, presented as static comic book panels. The color scheme is fitting for the pulpy atmosphere and the characters bear more than a passing resemblance to action stars of the ‘80s, like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as fictional characters like Harley Quinn. When you’re actually playing, Outer Terror reverts to retro-styled pixel art visuals, complete with a faux CRT filter. This filter can be switched off, although for some reason this makes the player sprite look blurry.


The ’80s-style retro approach doesn’t land as well when it comes to Outer Terror’s audio. Voice acting is understandably absent, but the game really could have done with a more fleshed-out soundtrack. It’s passable, but given the length of a typical run, hearing the same track over and over again does get repetitive, especially on subsequent runs. Sound effects are decent and often indicative of where enemies are, so turning off the audio entirely and listening to something else isn’t an option.


We’ve already addressed Outer Terror’s gameplay being remarkably similar to Vampire Survivors, but if you haven’t played Poncle’s 2022 indie hit, then that information isn’t going to help you understand what Salt & Pixel’s game is like. What you’re getting here is a roguelike arcade title that sees neverending waves of enemies descend upon your chosen character. You need to survive for as long as possible and hopefully achieve a handful of goals, though what you need to do exactly depends on which pulp comic you’ve decided to play through. Each character brings their own playstyle to the table, and as you’d expect, some are better suited for certain maps than others. Regardless, while your character starts out pretty weak, you do level up very quickly, and every time this happens your attacks grow more powerful, unless you decide to heal -more on that later. Your character attacks passively and continuously, meaning that the only time you have to press an attack button is when you decide to unleash your unique special attack, which needs to recharge after using it.

You gain experience from killing enemies as well as from picking up yellow orbs. Every time you level up, you’re presented with three character-dependent options that will let you obtain a new weapon or armor, or upgrade a weapon already in your arsenal. Occasionally, one of your options includes healing 25 hit points. There is a hard limit to the amount of upgrades you can apply to your character, so they can effectively reach “max” level in a single playthrough. However, once this happens, you won’t be able to get those health recoveries from leveling, so it’s effectively more interesting not to max out your stats so you can keep healing. Early on, your only other option to restore health is to pick up medkits from corpses scattered around the map, although which item a corpse gives is random and you can only carry two items, so that approach is a gamble.

Given that Outer Terror is built around replaying the maps over and over again, preferably with different characters, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is a very unforgiving game, especially early on. Each run rewards you with some cash though, depending on how well you did. This cash can be spent on permanent upgrades, meaning you’ll eventually start with much more powerful characters, ensuring survivability for much longer. This is a game that rewards sticking with it. Given that each map puts its own unique twist on the formula, and that each character brings their own playstyle, there is plenty to keep you occupied before a feeling of repetitiveness kicks in. That said, restarting a level after a game over can be a bit tedious, as you’ll have to select the level again, choose a character, and spend several seconds skipping the intro scenes again. A simple “retry” button would have gone a long way here.

If there’s one area where Outer Terror’s gameplay really could do with some improvement, it would be the lack of a tutorial or in-game explanations. It’s all well and good that you have ten different characters at your disposal, but an overview of their base stats and potential attacks would really help. Outer Terror isn’t an overly complicated game in the first place, and Salt & Pixel didn’t even bother implementing a tutorial. It’s almost as if the developers assumed players are already familiar with how Vampire Survivors works, so they didn’t bother repeating. That’s fine with us given how intuitive everything felt about the game’s basics, but some of the finer mechanics could really do with short text blurbs. We were wandering the map in our first Other Side run, wondering where the enemies were too, and unsure of what to do next. There was also a single instance where the game outright crashed on us mid-run. While we weren’t able to replicate this, here’s hoping that this instance was a one-off occurrence, or that a patch is in the works.

Coming in at €9.99, Outer Terror doesn’t break the bank, although it does feel light on content, even factoring in the two-player mode. Don’t get us wrong: you’re still getting plenty of bang for your buck here, especially since unlocking every permanent upgrade will take at least a dozen hours, if not more. However, that very same price point puts Outer Terror at double the price of Vampire Survivors, a game that does more or less the same but is packed with way more content -not even counting DLC. We do feel that Outer Terror offers more stage variety and a superior narrative approach, even if the core gameplay is so similar. Now, we’re not going to debate about which one is the better game, as both games are different enough to stand alongside one another, but from a value perspective, it’s clear that Vampire Survivors offers a significantly better deal.


While Outer Terror doesn’t necessarily feel as polished as Vampire Survivors, there are some areas where the newer game surpasses its predecessor. Visual presentation, narrative structure, and map variety are the standouts here. We could have done with better in-game explanations, and the game definitely would have benefited from a more varied OST. While we do recommend playing Vampire Survivors first, there is enough fun and uniqueness to be found in Outer Terror to warrant playing it too.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.