Out of Line is a charming little platformer, though it’s one that meanders in its message, if you can work out what it is. You play as San, who I think is some kind of clone, that works in a factory controlled by evil mechanical claws that attack the workforce for some reason. It could be that the start of the game is showing a mass breakout from the factory by the Sans but it is not clear. What is clear is that your San does get out and is now on the run for their freedom. All you have are your wits and a spear to aid in this journey.
Out of Line is essentially a traditional puzzle platformer with the one thing differentiating it being San’s spear. This spear cannot be used as a weapon as San can’t fight, but instead it’s used as a means to activate devices, and a platform as you can throw it into walls so it sticks. Initially, controlling the spear is a bit tricky as you get used to the control scheme but soon enough you’re levering and throwing to San’s content. The spear is key to solving each puzzle as you come to it, with puzzles largely being about moving platforms to get from one side of the screen to the other.
The puzzles start off simple enough as you learn how to play, with early puzzles requiring you to create a platform with the spear. One of the issues that’s fairly recurrent is that San does not always land on a spear platform properly. The spear may look like it is at a good height but San may just slide off because it apparently is not the right height, so you have to recall the spear and throw it slightly lower. There was also a much rarer issue, which appeared when San used the spear as a lever and he lets it go so you can move him to the next part of the puzzle. Annoyingly, a couple of times San didn’t let go of the spear, which meant progress couldn’t be made so the game had to be restarted.
The majority of the puzzles are relatively simple to solve even though they look more complex as you make your way through the game. From creating simple platforms you will soon be shepherding beetle-like creatures to switch points so machinery can be activated, or manipulating pipes to redirect steam allowing for pathways to be opened up. Only one puzzle caused me a bit of a delay as I just could not work out the pathway, but that is on me and not the puzzle design itself.
Out of Line does look very nice with its hand-drawn artwork, and the attempt at telling the story through artwork in the environment is a nice touch. However, the artwork is not always clear and the story just does not make itself known. At the end instead of a satisfying conclusion I was just left with more questions than answers about the world, and the additional characters you meet along the way. It feels like so much effort was put into the puzzle and environment design that the story was left behind. Out of Line’s music is a highlight though and complements the gameplay and artwork nicely.