Friends 'Till The End
“ A chill, enchanting experience that despite its richness, it won't impress everyone ”
*This is an old review; much of what you will read here no longer fully represents my view, skills, and knowledge.*
10 years in development Owlboy is an adventure story-driven platformer set in a cozy little world with countless humorous, personality-rich characters in a simplistic yet extremely involving story.
A game that start and end with a cozy feeling, in a tight theme that revolves around characters that are weak and fragile alone, but with the help of friends they can achieve great things.
Otus, the game protagonist is a mute owl that struggles to live up to the expectations that people have of owls, for they are usually great, honorable and brave, but Otus, on the other hand, lacks in the surface all these good qualities, so people, including his own master, start doubting his capabilities.
The game takes place in floating islands, and it’s there where the whole story unfolds. After the village our character lives in is assaulted by sky pirates, Otus goes in risky and extremely brave missions to assist his friends at the command of his master in an effort to stop the pirates in whatever their mischievous plans may be.
Developer: D-Pad Studio
Publisher: D-Pad Studio
Release Date: November 1, 2016
The game has a very cozy and natural feel to it, supplemented by the incredible soundtrack, alongside a beautiful pixel art-theme, Owlboy doesn’t let down in its visual and audio aspect. Despite the simplistic looks, the game does really great at gracing players with breathtaking scenarios that go from the greeny colorful sky lands to the dank depths of caves full of mysterious structures and enemies.
It might come off as surprising, but with our character being an owl with functional wings he can fly, so the game knowing this makes great use of it by incorporating flying as the game core mechanic in a world that plays in a very vertical map layout. Alone Otus is incapable, and he has only a handful of moves, but by carrying and flying with one of his friends, the little powerless owl with the help of a team of odd friends is much more capable of progressing through the many perilous environments, thus progressing the story, uncovering secrets in a world full of puzzles, mystery, and also making some truly dangerous enemies along the way.
And now that we get to talk about puzzles, in Owlboy they consist basically of buttons, and manipulation of the environment to open locked doors or blocked pathways. Each character in the game has set of unique abilities that interact differently with the surroundings, adding a lot of different mechanics to the game, and as a result, it creates many different situations to be solved in an unique way, and thanks to that the game never gets old despite making repeated use of the same design time and time again.
Bosses in the game are also very interesting — they somehow felt really challenging, and I could sense the desperation of our characters at each encounter. Bosses don’t have a visible health bar, so when taking down these enemies you have to be precise, enduring, and smart in order to succeed. Cycling between characters is also a must in these fights, for the enemies might have some specific weaknesses to the tools of one of your characters, so the fight keep rolling until either you die, or you find out what works best in each specific situation.
Now a little bit about how upgrades work in the game, very early on in the playthrough one of the first few things you’ll come across are some coins called ‘Buccanary coins’, and they are the game currency and can be spent on a shop you can get to very early on. In the shop you meet the character the coins are named after, and she sells various baubles that most of the time serve as cosmetic-only, and are lost once you get hit, but some are quite useful, increasing the range of one of your friend’s pistol, or tempering the shot of another, increasing its destructive power.
Character Development in Owlboy
As said before, characters in the world of Owlboy are very personality-rich, expressive, and charismatic. Otus for example, even though he can’t communicate, he has a handful of funny expressions that help us understand exactly what is going on in the mind of the little owl, and also his friend, while very talkative, frequently talking in spite of Otus, is very coward, often shaking when in a dangerous situation, but when it comes to showing off to his friends, he stuffs his chest and raises fists to the skies, challenging enemies.
As we progress through the story we see the characters that start small growing together, and going from unconfident to overconfident, failing and getting reluctant, but each time learning from their failures to finally succeed.
For a great majority of the time I caught myself very invested with the characters and their stories – despite the game not being the most impressive overall, thanks to the personality-rich characters, and also a really great story-telling, players get easily engaged with the narrative and how it plays, topped with a thankfully perfect and very emotional ending, the game finalizes its story in a really great tone.
Owlboy is a game I avoided for quite some time, but I really felt rewarded after playing through it. The game has a really slow-burning start that might be what drops most players from seeing the whole story, but after seeing the game in its entirety for myself, I feel it’s safe to say it’s totally worth the time investment. If you enjoy a slow-paced, great, wholesome story, then I truly do believe Owlboy is a game for you. The game not once felt rushed, and the world is really full of detail, so even though I know it won’t please everyone, there’s a nice chance of it being interesting at the very least.
The game has a few bits of fast-paced combat that are full of action, but despite the somewhat intense moments, the game really feels very laid-back and relaxed most of the time, so unless that’s your thing you will have a hard time enjoying it.
Unique, personality-rich characters that are very expressive and humourous, even if held back by the limits of pixel-art.
Eye pleasing pixel-art style that works perfectly to create visually striking scenarios part of a sky-high adventure.
Simple yet mechanically engaging combat with lots of great action sequences and memorable larger enemies.
Short yet long enough to create a well-polished experience for the complete satisfaction of many people, but not everyone's.
Slow-burning start that may turn off some people right from the very beginning, keeping them from seeing the entire thing.
Repetitive, frequently reused enemies, but because the game is on the shorter side it shouldn't be a huge deal for most people.
Upgrades felt especially lacking, with most of them being cosmetics only and the useful ones not being anything special.
A few slightly over-simplistic puzzles not requiring great focus and attention from the player to be solved.
Beautiful enchanting long story with very charismatic characters in a breathtaking world. Creative work from a team of five people for over 10 years that turned out as an excellent game, but with a few noticeable flaws that will keep it from reaching a broader audience.
08/24/2020 - Caius, The Lone Crusader