by Emily Reuben
It seems today that all you see are over anticipated titles that never meet fan expectations. Many otherwise decent games fall victim to these overblown expectations. In the case of Owlboy¸ fans had 9 years to let fantasies of the game’s potential run wild. With the finished product finally available, the question emerges: how does it stack up?
Owl-song of the pixel-art genre
The very first impression the game imparts on the viewer as the title screen loads is the gorgeous sound design. The orchestral score swells, and it instantly immerses the player before they even get the chance to press play. The soundtrack of the whole game is so full of wonder and majesty, it truly is hard not to become invested.
Once that intrepid player starts a new game, they are greeted with some of the most aesthetically pleasing visuals that have come from sprite based games in the last few years. Breath-taking vistas of floating islands coupled with unique character designs make the aesthetic of the world feel alive. The adventure of the game will take the player through caves, ancient ruins, tundra, spiny mazes of thorn, and even to the interior of a pirate ship or two.
Story as classic as the graphics
The player takes control of Otus, a mute owl student struggling to learn the ancient ways of the Owls. While patrolling his hometown with his human buddy, Geddy, a gang of pirates attack the peaceful town. Absent from their guard posts, Otus and Geddy find an ancient Owl relic after following a troublemaker into some ruins in town. From there, the duo must do their best to stop the pirates as they continue on their rampage of relentless destruction.
As the game goes on, the story does not make too many surprising turns. It seems obvious that the story is present to serve as a vehicle for beautiful visuals, impressive sound design and reasonably tight controls. The generic story does not take away from the experience, but it does make one wonder at the possibilities of a story that could match the striking visuals.
Gamers may experience minor turbulence
Borrowing elements from 2D puzzle platformers and twin stick shooters, Owlboy packs a fun challenge. While the difficulty never gets out of hand, there were a few points that offer more complex gameplay, specifically the boss fights. The majority of these fights require memorizing a pattern of attack, however, some are more reliant on the player’s ability to act quickly and think even quicker. These segments are challenging enough to make the player feel genuinely accomplished and empowered to seek new and greater challenges.
Some mechanics have a few kinks in them. The auto-aim is a bit too sticky at times, and distinguishing allies from adjacent objects is vexing when trying to pick things up. Despite these minor hiccups, most of the gameplay is superb and without a hitch.
A genuinely pretty game wrapped in charming writing, Owlboy delivers a fun experience sure to transport any gamer to the Owl world. Through challenges that never feel unfair, the player is taken on a journey to a fantastical land filled with underdogs, pirates, and plenty of adventure to be had.
+ Stunning pixel-graphics
+ Majestic soundtrack
- Generic story
- Minor control issues
Emily is a Telecommunications (Film and Media Studies) major minoring in Japanese and Professional Writing in Emerging Media. Emily writes film and gaming reviews.