Outlanders is a mobile building game (found in Apple Arcade), which has the player act as the leader of a small community — a community that requires homes, food, and resources. Each leader has his or her own personality and, therefore, has their own goals, whether they be selfish, social, or otherwise. The player is required to construct and grow the community according to those requirements, while keeping their villagers alive.
Seeing the vibrant colors of the game, you might well wonder why it’s being included on a site about horror and the weird. The answer is simple: Outlanders was simultaneously one of the most relaxing and stressful gaming experiences I’ve had in a long while. The music, sounds, and setting are all soothing, however, the community abides amide the constant presence of possible doom — with missteps leading to all of the villagers slowing dying off.
At no other game have I audibly shouted, “Please stop popping out babies! You’re all going to STARVE!”
Struggling against the onslaught of children (useless to the cause until they reach adulthood) was pointless. I was left muttering about how they all god what they deserved after all the adults died off in droves. I squatted on the couch, clutching my phone and shaking my head in horror, as I watched the few surviving children (who cannot act to even pluck ripe tomatoes from the vine to save themselves) wasted away from starvation — just like their parents.
The game itself also offers its own charming little nod to the horror genre, with one of the levels focusing on an isolated community preparing for a mysterious ritual, called Wickerbread Man. The player finds themselves faced with the challenge of making enough bread to feed the people, while also having a sufficient amount to construct a monstrously large figure in a field.
Outlanders was completely consuming, sucking up five hours of my day in a single sitting. I was both disappointed and relieved to find that (thus far), the game contains only six levels, forcing me to stop playing for a while.
A sandbox mode has recently been introduced, which allows the player to build a village just for the sake of building a village. It’s a mode I have not yet played (and I’m not sure I want to play), since part of the enjoyment was strategically trying to meet a leader’s goals while keeping your community happy and healthy.