The elusive Black Hole Forge
Screenshot: Outer Wilds
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I have not beaten Outer Wilds yet. One reason I still haven’t is that I wasted hours trying to land my ship on the Black Hole Forge instead of just using the Ash Twin teleporter to get there. I thought I was saving myself time by taking this “shortcut.” I was not.

Why, you might very well ask, would it be faster for me to fly to this location in Outer Wilds than use a teleporter? Wouldn’t a teleporter be faster, since it is a teleporter? You’d think that, but the teleporter to the Black Hole Forge is on a completely different planet, and it’s also buried in sand. This sand gets removed from the teleporter building over time, but you have to stand around and be patient for a couple minutes while that happens. I didn’t feel like being patient. That was a mistake.

Outer Wilds is a science fiction adventure puzzle game set in an alien galaxy. You play as an alien who investigates the handful of planets around them, discovering artifacts left by a different alien race that has since died out but which had developed very advanced technology, including teleporters. The game also unfolds in 22-minute increments. After that amount of time is up, the sun explodes, and your hero gets reset back on their home planet once more, at the beginning of what appears to be a time loop.

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Over the course of the game, you discover text logs from ancient aliens that help you piece together why the galaxy is stuck in this time loop. Some of the information that you need to solve this mystery is hidden in dilapidated buildings that can only be accessed by a teleporter or some very clever spaceship flying. One of these cities, the Hanging City, is on a planet called Brittle Hollow. It’s also in the midst of collapsing into a black hole. You can access the Hanging City by flying there in your spaceship, so long as you carefully avoid that black hole. In that city, you’ll read information about the Black Hole Forge, but you won’t be able to access it from the two elevators there, because the tops of both elevators have collapsed. You could use your spaceship to fly the rest of the way up. Or you could use the teleporter, which is on another planet called Ash Twin.

There are a couple of teleporters on the planet Ash Twin, one of which happens to go to the Black Hole Forge. The first time I used the teleporter to get to the forge, said forge wasn’t actually accessible to me. That’s because in order to access it, you have to go to another floor of the Hanging City in order to flip a switch before then traveling to the forge. That’s just the beginning of the process, and you have to do all of that within one time loop.

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Once I realized this, I got annoyed. I decided I would just fly my ship directly into the parts of the Hanging City I needed to access, despite its proximity to the black hole.

There’s just one problem. It’s not actually easier to do this. Sure, it’s easier if you’re very good at flying the spaceship in Outer Wilds. I am not. I get impatient easily, and I also get motion sick easily. This is not a good combination for flying a spaceship on a very tricky flight path. And yet this is the exact flight path that I forced myself to do for several hours, all in the name of it being supposedly “easier.”

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Sometimes I would successfully land the ship in Meltwater, get out, flip the switch, and then crash my poor ship beyond repair on a stalactite before I could even manage to fly the rest of the way up to the Black Hole Forge. Many other times, I would simply get sucked into the black hole before I could even make it to Meltwater. One time, I landed perfectly on Meltwater and rushed out of the ship, only to realize that I had been in such a hurry that I had forgotten to put my poor protagonist’s space suit on. I watched them asphyxiate to death. I cursed myself aloud and then, in my next run, tried to do the exact same stupid flight path again. It didn’t work. Again.

I did not ever succeed at doing this. I got so angry that I eventually had to take a break to go for a run. When I came back, I took a long hard look in the proverbial mirror and admitted to myself that I had not saved any time at all. I had, in fact, wasted time. A lot of time.

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I booted up the game again. I gritted my teeth and took the long way. I got back to my spaceship and I flew it to Ash Twin. I stood and waited for sand to drain out of the room with the teleporter. I got on the teleporter and finally made it to the Black Hole Forge. It took only a few minutes in total to do this. I had plenty of time left in my 22-minute loop to read all of the text logs at the forge.

Why did I waste hours of my time doing something that I thought would be faster when it clearly wasn’t? Why didn’t I just give up and take the “long” way, which wasn’t even long? I don’t know. But, dear reader, I caution you to learn from my folly. Don’t keep trying a supposed “shortcut” in a game for longer than an hour. Just do it the slow way. Because it’s probably not that slow.