Here's a bit of a treat for those with a hankering for some nostalgia-tweaking space exploration; Outcast - Second Contact is currently free to download on the Humble Store.
Outcast - Second Contact, for those unfamiliar, was released last year, and is developer Appeal's tastefully modernised remake of its 1999 cult classic sci-fi action-adventure Outcast. Both tell the tale of the preposterously named Cutter Slade, a US Navy Seal sent through a black hole to retrieve a probe from an alien world.
Once on Adelpha, as the alien planet is known, curious players are free to explore as their whims dictate, thanks to Outcast's proto-open-world structure. I'll be honest, even though I owned the game when it originally released, my memory of the experience is a little vague - aside from recalling not really knowing where I was going or what I was doing and spending an awful lot of time meandering around a dusty market town.
Thankfully, Richie Shoemaker had a far better handle on Outcast when he reviewed Second Contact for Eurogamer last year. "Chiefly inspired by Stargate, seemingly guided by the spirit of Edgar Rice Burroughs and with flourishes that invited fleeting comparisons with Ocarina of Time," he said, "I think it sat more comfortably alongside other prototypical efforts like Beyond Good & Evil, Captain Blood, Robinson's Requiem and Little Big Adventure - where their developers had established distinct and compelling worlds long before layering them with whatever passed for interactivity at the time".
What I do remember, though, was that Outcast looked gorgeous, and quite unlike anything I'd seen before - thanks to its unusual ray-casting technology, which gave the alien world an organic, but appropriately unreal aesthetic. And last year's Second Contact remake spent a lot of effort sprucing up those memorable visuals to an acceptable modern-day standard, without loosing the original game's distinctive charms.
"For the most part Second Contact is a glorious remaster," said Richie's review, "essential for fans and a worthy introduction for newcomers who want to sample an open-world adventure that requires a bit of thought and patience. It's a notable effort for leaving much of the underlying game and it's 90s soul intact, while switching out the original graphics for visuals that, whole not bleeding edge, are a generational triple jump beyond [2014's update]."
And if any of that appeals, you can pick up your free digital copy of Outcast - Second Contact from the Humble Store right now. The offer ends on November 24th at 6pm in the UK/10am PT, and Humble says you've only got until November 29th to redeem your game (which you can "keep and play forever") before the download link expires.