For over 4 years, Outer Wilds has continued to pique the interest of players around the world. This is evident in the fact that the game sold over four million units by August 2021, an impressive number for a then-two-year-old game.
With only one DLC to its name as of 2023, Outer Wilds hasn’t received much attention from Mobius Digital Games in a while. This has left fans waiting and hoping for rumors of a sequel, though it seems Mobius Digital is working on their next game. For now, we have no information on whether or not the game will be related to Outer Wilds, though fans still have hope.
To help quench your thirst for more adventure, our editors have compiled a list of games like Outer Wilds. These games may vary in theme or story, but we can guarantee they will evoke the same feeling as Outer Wilds.
What is Outer Wilds?
To better understand what makes the following games similar to Outer Wilds, we must first learn about the game itself. While some may already be familiar with the game, others will have their first run-in with the game today. So let’s get into it.
Outer Wilds is an action-adventure game that features an unnamed player character who explores a solar system. The catch is that the protagonist is stuck in a time loop and keeps going back 22 minutes before the solar system’s star goes supernova.
The main objective of the game is to find out why this is happening, and you can do this by exploring the solar system and uncovering the secrets of those who came before.
#1 No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky takes Outer Wilds’s concept of space exploration and runs with it. With a procedurally generated open-world universe, there’s no limit to the planets the player can discover. With enough resources, anything is possible in No Man’s Sky. The player controls the Traveller, who wakes up on a remote planet with amnesia after crashing their starship. After fixing their starship and meeting a pair of friendly aliens, the Traveller is compelled to journey to the center of the universe. With various twists and turns in the story, No Man’s Sky may shock players and simultaneously give them food for thought.
No Man’s Sky Gameplay
The gameplay of No Man’s Sky can be as simple as it can be complex. The Traveller starts out with only a survival exosuit and a multitool. With this, you must progress through the game by mining and collecting resources to fix your spaceship. The process is pretty much the same after this with the addition of a means of transportation across planets. The game is open-ended, meaning there’s no real ending. This is great for those who want to explore the 18 quintillion procedurally generated worlds the game has to offer. However, the player may also choose to follow the guidance of The Atlas to reach the center of the galaxy.
Subnautica puts a darker twist on the action-adventure and survival genre but also deals with space just like Outer Wilds. Ryley Robinson, a non-essential systems maintenance chief, crash lands on a strange planet full of water following the attack on his ship, the Aurora. As he tries to leave the world, he must explore it and face many of its inhabitants, both friendly and hostile. Along the way, Ryley learns of the reason why his ship crashed and what happened to the Precursors, an ancient alien species who came to planet 4546B in search of a cure for a mysterious disease.
The main objective of Subnautica is to find a way back home. The second objective is simply to survive. With a hunger, oxygen, and thirst bar, Ryley must maintain his well-being while searching for a way off of the planet. Exploring is the best way to progress through the game, as there are many blueprints and resources to discover and collect. With these, Ryley can construct tools, build bases and vehicles, and interact with the wildlife on 4546B. You’ll spend the majority of the game underwater, with only two islands to explore throughout the game. Ryley must evade danger and discover more about the planet to figure out a way to leave.
#3 The Wild Case
Although The Wild Case is not thematically similar to Outer Wilds, it offers a similarly interesting story. The protagonist is a paranormal detective who receives a letter about strange creatures who are terrorizing a village. The letter requests his help, and that’s why our protagonist sets out into the deep wilds of the forest to find the village and learn more about these mysterious creatures. The Wild Case is full of interesting characters and mysterious puzzles. All of these elements combine to create a story that presents the player with an intriguing mystery to solve.
The Wild Case Gameplay
The game is a 2D point-and-click adventure the player experiences in first person. The Wild Case mostly involves talking to characters and solving puzzles to learn more about what’s happening in the village. There are no hidden objects to find in the game, but the player can pick up items and use them elsewhere to progress the game.
#4 The Forgotten City
Another mystery adventure role-playing game, The Forgotten City actually started out as a Skyrim mod. The full game came only came out in 2021 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Xbox One and Series X/S. The game follows the protagonist who got rescued by a mysterious individual. She then tasks the player with looking for her friend who disappeared while investigating some nearby ruins. The protagonist obliges but soon discovers much more than just these ruins. Instead, they are transported to the era of the Roman Empire. The ruins have now become a functional city, and it becomes clear that the city is under the protection of the gods. This means that if anyone were to commit a sin, all citizens would be equally punished. This is known as the Golden Rule. The protagonist must find the missing friend while simultaneously uncovering the mysteries of this time loop.
The Forgotten City Gameplay
There are four endings in total, and each one depends on the actions you take throughout the game. The NPCs in The Forgotten City are dynamic and don’t seem to wait around for the player. The protagonist is stuck in a time loop that sends the player back and allows them to restart the day in The Forgotten City. However, all information and items you acquire during the loop will stay with you throughout. Keep in mind that no one is really sure what constitutes breaking the Golden Rule, although there are some obvious answers.
#5 Lifeless Planet
Lifeless Planet is similar to Outer Wilds in the space exploration aspect. This puzzle adventure gamer may also remind some players of Subnautica, as the player character crashes on an alien planet. Although the planet was thought to be full of life, it turns out that it’s actually a wasteland. Well, unless you count the strange Soviet Union outposts on the planet. The protagonist soon finds out there is another survivor, Aelita, who guides him through the planet. Together they uncover what happened to this planet, why it is so devoid of life, and how the Soviets managed to find it. A sequel, Lifeless Moon, came out in 2023.
Lifeless Planet Gameplay
In Lifeless Planet, you’ll be doing a lot of platforming and puzzle-solving. Some examples include activating power sources by finding the switch, pressing buttons in a specific order to open gates, and rolling and jumping across the terrain to access new areas. The game is pretty linear in flow, so you don’t have to worry too much about getting lost or sidetracked. When exploring the planet, make sure to keep an eye on your oxygen and jetpack supplies, as you won’t be able to survive without them. To learn more about the story of the game you must find the audio recordings left behind by the Soviet colonists.
#6 Deliver Us the Moon
Still keeping up with the space theme of Outer Wilds, Deliver Us the Moon follows a lone astronaut who is on a mission of going to the moon to explore what happened to the World Space Agency. This is because all communications between Earth and the World Space Agency have ceased. In order to avert the extinction of humanity, our protagonist must find out what happened on the Moon. Along the way, he discovers ruins of previous lunar missions that tell interesting stories of what happened during those voyages. It’s up to the player whether the astronaut will return home and save planet Earth or perish in the depths of space. A sequel, Deliver Us Mars, is also available to play.
Deliver Us the Moon Gameplay
Your main objective is to find out what happened to the World Space Agency and restore the energy source the Earth sustains itself on. The player character possesses a camera, flashlight, and astrotool that helps them solve the many puzzles throughout the game. There are 6 chapters to go through in the game. The player can also find collectibles throughout the game in various forms. Some examples include hologram recordings, audio files, and physical items. Getting all of the collectibles will help players who want to unlock all achievements in Deliver Us the Moon.
#7 Return of the Obra Dinn
If you liked Papers, Please, you’re going to love Return of the Obra Dinn. This is because the game was created by Lucas Pope, the same creator of the former game. Return of the Obra Dinn takes place in 1807 and has the player in the role of an investigator for the East India Company. Obra Dinn is a merchant ship that went missing five years ago but has recently reappeared off the coast of England with no surviving crew or passengers. The investigator’s job is to explore the ship and determine what happened to everyone on the ship. This element of mystery makes the game very similar to Outer Wilds.
Return of the Obra Dinn Gameplay
The gameplay of Return of the Obra Dinn mostly utilizes puzzles the player must solve to uncover the mystery. The ship is fully explorable and the protagonist tracks their progress in the logbook. This is an automatic process so you don’t need to worry about missing any basic information. They are also equipped with a tool, the Memento Mortem, that is capable of recreating a death at the moment it occurred. It also allows the player to freeze the moment of death and explore it. They can then explore the surroundings and take note of everyone present at that moment. However, the player must log this information manually.
#8 Kerbal Space Program
If you haven’t yet had enough of space-themed games like Outer Wilds, here comes Kerbal Space Program! Unlike the rest of the games on this list that are similar to Outer Wilds in gameplay, Kerbal Space Program is a space flight simulation game. The player controls a space program along with its crew, the Kerbals. Kerbal Space Program is very interesting in the fact that it mimics real-life physics, adding to the sense of realism. This also makes many real-life orbital maneuvers possible such as the Hohmann transfer orbits and orbital rendezvous. Overall, Kerbal Space Program is a great game for space and physics nerds who tried Outer Wilds and loved it. A sequel, Kerbal Space Program 2, is also in the works.
Kerbal Space Program Gameplay
The setting of the game mostly happens in the spaceport on Kerbin, the home planet of the Kerbals. In this spaceport, the player can construct various vehicles such as rockets, aircraft, spaceplanes, and rovers that aid in space exploration. After creating them, the player can launch them from the launch pad or runway and control them completely by themselves. The success of the launch depends on the quality of the build. If the build is sufficient, the vehicle can enter orbit and even travel to other planets. There is also a variety of missions to complete in the game with different objectives.
#9 The Talos Principle
The Talos Principle, though not space-based like Outer Wilds, provides an equally compelling storytelling experience. Developed by Croteam and released in 2014, The Talos Principle puts the player in the role of an unnamed android, who wakes up long after humans have become extinct. The player character is tasked by a disembodied voice, Elohim, to explore the worlds he has created for the android. This unnamed android encounters many other AIs in the worlds we now realize are virtual, and some of them instruct the player to defy Elohim. Depending on the player’s choices, different endings and paths through the story are available.
The Talos Principle Gameplay
The Talos Principle is a puzzle game, which means the player must solve these puzzles to progress the game. In fact, there are over 120 puzzles to solve in various environments such as a desert, stone ruins, and interlock greenery. If the player gets stuck on a puzzle, they can also request “messengers”, other androids that provide small one-time hints for the puzzles. You must also be careful not to get too close to the drones or turrets you encounter, as they can instantly kill you. A useful tool for disabling them is the jammer unit, which the player can also use to disable force fields that prevent further progress.
Oxenfree, just like Outer Wilds, tells a great story in a similar art style. This graphic adventure game lets us meet Alex, a teenage girl who is on a weekend trip to a local island. On the island, she encounters some supernatural events that require her and her friends to stay on the island for a while longer. Namely, they accidentally unleash a paranormal force and need to figure out how to stop it. A sequel, Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals, was also released in July 2023. However, the story of Oxenfree 2 is completely independent from the original game, so don’t expect to see Alex and her friends again.
The gameplay of Oxenfree relies on the walk-and-talk mechanic where the player can freely move during dialogue with other characters. This also allows the player to select different dialogue options, interrupt the NPC, or give no answer at all. However, you should be wary of how you use these dialogue options, as they can affect Alex’s relationship with the other characters. To progress through the game, you must interact with different objects to solve puzzles in the game. Alex also possesses a handheld radio that helps in the solving of these puzzles. There are several possible endings and there is no game over screen, which means that no matter which choice you make in the game you’ll receive a fitting ending.
Myst is possibly the oldest game on this list with a release date in September 1993. Because of this, the graphics and art style of the game are very simple, although the story is impressive. The player controls an unnamed protagonist who travels to a mysterious island, Myst, by using a special book. There, they encounter Sirrus and Achenar, two brothers and the sons of Atrus. They explain that Atrus lived together with his wife Catherine on Myst island, but has since died. Each brother blames the other for the death of their father. The player must decide which of the brothers to help.
The gameplay of Myst happens in first-person. Players are able to interact with objects in the game by clicking and dragging. They can also move through the world by clicking on locations on the screen. The protagonist also has an inventory where they can store items such as pages that they’ve read throughout the game. However, keep in mind that you can only keep one page in your inventory at a time. To pick up another page you must simply go back to where you’ve found it. The driving force of Myst is exploration, and there are no clear objectives to guide the player through the island.
#12 Tin Can
We’re ending off our list of games like Outer Wilds with Tin Can, a space simulation strategy game that, frankly, scares us. Now, don’t get us wrong. Tin Can is not a scary game by any means. However, just the thought of being trapped in a tin can floating through space is enough to raise goosebumps. The player character is armed with only a technical manual and their own wits. Their only task is to survive until rescue.
Tin Can Gameplay
Tin Can’s gameplay has you managing the escape pod of your destroyed ship down to the small details. The player receives a technical manual that contains a lot of information about the pod. As you await rescue, you must maintain the pod and be careful not to fall victim to oncoming cosmic events. This means you can dismantle, fix, and manage every component of the pod to ensure your survival. Additionally, the player must manage vital resources such as oxygen, temperature, and radiation to keep the player’s character alive.