Review: Outta Hand – A Handy Little Platformer

Locomotion in virtual reality has always been a tricky, mixed endeavour. Over the years methods have evolved from fixed point-to-point teleportation to swinging your arms and even grappling hooks. The ideas that tend to work the best for a broad range of players are the ones that apply some physical movement to trick the brain. Gorilla Tag did this by simply allowing you to push off the virtual ground with your hands. Outta Hand, the latest title from Capricia Productions takes this theory a step further. As we find in our Quest 2 review, Outta Hand gets seriously handsy – in the right kind of way.

Outta Hand is a high-energy platformer that’s almost akin to an upper-body workout. In this light narrative adventure, you play a Hand-Person, creatures made up of heads and arms that bound around on their hands. There’s an evil dude called Dr. Vendelvom who uses simple hand-people to carry out his nefarious plans. However, you just so happen to be smarter than the rest, earmarking you for termination. So you break out of your glass cell in a bid for freedom.

Outta Hand screenshot 1

Lending a hand

So that makes Outta Hand your basic escape the lab scenario. But the energetic platforming required to escape isn’t basic in the slightest. First up is getting to grips with the locomotion. It can be a little weird at first finding yourself flat on the floor, almost as if the Quest’s floor placement system is broken. It isn’t, of course. With no legs, those hands need to be used like feet, and after a few minutes running through the lab hallways becomes fairly intuitive.

The locomotion gets even more physical once you need to reach platforms, slamming those big rubbery fists into the ground to get some air. Outta Hand then layers in greater complexity with the addition of flight, the ability to ‘wall-kick’ (or should that be wall-punch), and combat. When it comes to flight, the Hand-People have very tiny wings allowing for short duration air-time. Once in the air, all you need to do is flap your arms to stay airborne, with an indicator showing how long you’ve got. You can also slam your fists down mid-flight onto platforms and enemies to stay aloft.

Needless to say, once the levels start to combine all of these elements Outta Hand becomes a heart-pounding, sweat-inducing experience that’s a lot of fun. Like any platformer, fudging a sequence can be annoying taking you further back than you’d like. Yet, Outta Hand’s feature means the gameplay is far more forgiving than most. That being said, there were still plenty of times when I overshot a jump or ran out of flight time getting a bit too cocky.

Outta Hand screenshot 3

The gloves come off

Most certainly geared towards platforming, Outta Hand does feature enemies and bosses to deal with. Again, you’re using those rubbery, extendable fists to dispatch foes although you can pick up defeated enemies to throw. The combat is the weakest portion of the whole game as it is quite rudimentary. Yet it also offers a welcome breather, a time to catch your breath before moving on to the next platforming segment.

What you will find this that Outta Hand is fairly short, taking around four hours to complete. Helping resolve that issue is the endless mode. This comes in two flavours, depending on how intense to want the experience to be. The first is the most classic form, endless lives to see how far you can get with leaderboards at the end. Or there’s the ‘zen’ mode for a more tranquil time. Both help to add that extra hint of longevity.

Outta Hand Review Summary

Outta Hand is very much a pleasant surprise, putting it in the realm of an indie gem. The gameplay is spirited whilst the aesthetic design is vibrant and nicely tailored to the Quest. The game’s comfort level might be listed as ‘moderate’ but I never found any of the action, leaps and falls to be uncomfortable. It was generally due to the enjoyment and over-exertion that the headset had to be removed. This teamed up with the casual narrative and light-hearted voiceovers from Dr. Vendelvom and your helpful assistant Handgelina makes Outta Hand an entertaining VR game.