Outer Wilds - How to Meditate

June 8, 2024

Outer Wilds is a beautiful, challenging, and surprisingly emotionally rich space exploration game that is often overlooked due to its confusing controls and obtuse progress-gating puzzles. However, it is still a very special experience, and the most important aspect of its message is how well it handles loneliness.

The player takes the role of an unnamed Hearthian space explorer (usually referred to as the Hatchling) preparing for their first mission. They are the first to be sent into a planetary system with a device that can translate Nomai text and the Nomai statue they pair to their station on Timber Hearth is set to return in 22 minutes, after which it will explode as a supernova.

However, their first death is not the end of the world and they wake up back by a fire at Timber Hearth, just as they were before the supernova. This sequence replays every time they die, and the player is able to learn from their mistakes with each new loop.

This repetition also teaches the player that the only thing they have to do is meditate until their next loop. Whether the player died peacefully or violently, they can go to the pause screen and select "Meditate until next loop" which will immediately send them through the entire death sequence without respawning.

The player is not required to choose this option, but it makes the experience feel a little more meaningful and is a nice touch that reflects the real-world feeling of loneliness. The player can be happy alone and enjoy the solitude but can also feel a sense of loss when they are unable to connect with others.

Mission

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