Rather than making space an endless slog to explore, Mobius Digital has condensed its starry sandbox down to a handful of small planets packed with secrets. Outer Wilds is an open ended sci-fi title with a time-twisting mystery at its heart, and it manages to do a lot with a little. It might take some getting used to, but this is a game that lets you loose in its universe with minimal direction. You start on Timber Hearth, a peaceful planet of kind, intelligent folks obsessed with an ancient race of beings known as Nomai. From there, you're left to wander the solar system yourself.
At first, this freedom is disconcerting, but it doesn't take long before pieces of a complex puzzle begin to materialise. A Groundhog Day style effect means you have a 20-minute timer before things are reset, but it's an ample window in which to learn more about the surrounding planets, and what ties them together. After a few hours with the game, you're likely to be pretty invested in a story that's ingeniously broken up into bits and spread across the system.
Gameplay is very basic. Navigating through space and landing on ever-moving planets can be tough; the controls are simple enough, but it remains a fiddly process. You have access to a scanner that can pick up audio signals from huge distances, giving you clues to the whereabouts of other characters, and scouts which you can launch into unknown territory to take pictures and see what's going on. It may not sound exciting, but we don't want to spoil such a story-heavy experience. This is a game that presents itself in a unique way, and trusts you to put together its compelling mystery without assistance.