Outcast - A New Beginning review: Hi Jetpack, I'm Dad

A sequel to a 1990s cult classic and open world pioneer in 2024 aims high but stays humble.


When I took this assignment on, I had never heard of Outcast. A friend told me later it was “peak Eurojank,” which seems like a solid stamp of approval coming from a European. Personally, I was sold when I saw a dude scooting around in the air with a jetpack, exchanging neon-colored laser fire with robots. That kind of pure “video games” vibe is tragically uncommon, especially in open world, action-adventure titles. While I was initially put off by the Avatar-like vibes of the story, I walked away from Outcast - A New Beginning appreciating its brazen silliness, slick action, and open world efficiency.

Cutter Slade is definitely a wrestler name

Lasers and robots in this outcast a new beginning combat screenshot

If it wasn’t clear I was playing in a world born from the world of 1990s PC gaming, it all clicked into place the moment I was introduced to protagonist Cutter Slade. As yes, a clean-cut white dude cracking wise and ready to blast some baddies in an alien world. That said, there’s some subtle subversion here that had me tickled. Slade has aged since his first outing, and in ways that feel shockingly normal for a video game action hero. His hairline has partially retreated, his five o clock shadow is winning a long-fought battle, and my man’s got a little of that chin pouch I’m all too familiar with these days when I lapse in exercising. And the Dad Jokes, whew buddy, the Dad Jokes.

That said, Cutter is still a proper badass. This isn’t a Die Hard situation with a character constantly making self-deprecating aging jokes while bare-knuckle boxing a helicopter. It’s not achingly self-aware, nor is it a self-serious story of mortality or redemption. Cutter is just aging in a mundane way despite his bizarre situation. You still get a jetpack, transforming laser gun, massive laser shield-slash discus gimmick, and a wacky sci-fi headset piece. Slade wears all that gear on top of a normal, orange t-shirt, making him look like an old Max Steel action figure. Minus all the chiseled muscles.

A jetpack joyride

showing off the jetpack in outcast a new beginning

Cutter’s jetpack is the star of the show. As you go through the game, you get to double-jump, dodge, glide, cruise, and all other kinds of wacky movement gimmicks that all feel great to use. They even blend well together, as you get things like an air dodge, or when you realize gliding transitions automatically to the ground-level hovering. Outcast’s open world is just as fun to move around in as it is to fight in. Zipping around to dodge enemy fire is also tight and responsive, and the shield combined with an impressively customizable weapon kit makes shooting feel fresh and exciting. It all looks old school, but feels pumped up with all the modern tech under the hood.

Moving around the world being fun is thanks in part to how efficient Outcast - A New Beginning is with its open world design. Too often it feels like there’s so much pressure to have a huge world full of nonsense busywork sprinkled throughout to justify the space or soak up time. Here we certainly have several, repeated activities, many of which are what you’d expect to see. But they’re smaller, spread out more, and quick to resolve. Completing them also gives you tangible rewards. I always felt like I was engaging with these side activities on my terms, and there weren’t so many that I felt bogged down or overwhelmed with choice paralysis. I imagine most folks will see this game as “AA,” but I’d love to see this approach translate to normalcy everywhere.

A little too old school

a screenshot showing off the alien environment in outcast a new beginning

Storytelling is where Outcast - A New Beginning lost me most often. While Slade’s antics and goofy dad vibe were fun, the overall scenario didn’t hit hard. This is where the game will have the hardest time beating the “generic” allegations. There are certainly some interesting ideas, such as adding in-world logic to video game respawning, and novel ways the story balances wanting newcomer appeal with being a sequel to an old game. But for the most part you’re running errands for alien stand-ins for oppressed indigenous people, which is when it starts to feel like the old school gaming vibe rubs the wrong way. There’s so much jargon and cultural terms thrown at you, and it’s sold by an endless fountain of “silly aliens” gags from the hero, making his motivations for helping them cloudy. It’s shallow in a way that betrays the non-shallow gameplay, in spots where being shallow causes the most harm.

Times like these I’m glad I get to blindly jump into games like Outcast - A New Beginning. I admit, I’d never give a game like this the time of day if I saw it on a shelf or in a Steam list or whatever. But I urge people out there who like retro sci-fi or classic games in that 90s PC style to give Outcast a shot. It’s charming and silly without being corny, and has a pitch-perfect game feel when it comes to flying around the world and fighting. The storytelling doesn’t hit any home runs, but the sum of the other parts hold the game up regardless. It’s a good time, and bigger, more expensive games could stand to learn a thing or two from it at the end of the day.

Outcast - A New Beginning is available on PC, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 5 on March 15, 2024. A PC code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Contributing Editor

Lucas plays a lot of videogames. Sometimes he enjoys one. His favorites include Dragon Quest, SaGa, and Mystery Dungeon. He's far too rattled with ADHD to care about world-building lore but will get lost for days in essays about themes and characters. Holds a journalism degree, which makes conversations about Oxford Commas awkward to say the least. Not a trophy hunter but platinumed Sifu out of sheer spite and got 100 percent in Rondo of Blood because it rules. You can find him on Twitter @HokutoNoLucas being curmudgeonly about Square Enix discourse and occasionally saying positive things about Konami.

  • Fun gameplay, both movement and combat
  • Goofy main character who feels like an action hero having a starkly normal middle age experience
  • Open world that doesn't feel exhausting to look at
  • Mid storytelling
  • Sometimes suffers from "generic" vibes
From The Chatty
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    March 14, 2024 7:00 AM

    Lucas White posted a new article, Outcast - A New Beginning review: Hi Jetpack, I'm Dad

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