POWER REVIEW: OwlBoy - PC
Updated: Aug 22, 2020
You are cast as Otus, the titular Owl Boy and amongst a mere handful of Owl people who still inhabit the land. The world is formed of floating islands and menaced by flying pirates. You start the game in training and are quickly shown how to fly around the level at will. As such there’s a huge vertical scale to the level and few places where you can actually fall to your death. The games mechanics are based around Otus being able to carry his comrades, each of which has a unique way of attacking enemies or interacting with their environment. The game includes a genuinely intriguing plot and strong story elements as you explore the world to solve the mysteries of the past.
Premium Pixel art in the modern indie game mold.
+ The game is pretty with great examples of high quality pixel art throughout.
+ I found the soundtrack surprisingly enjoyable in the main town hub area, one of those “we’re going on an adventure!” tunes.
- It does that thing I hate whereby it uses rotation effects that under mind the games' resolution (pet peeve).
The game is pure Metroid-vania in style. There’s a few health increases and additional abilities are afforded by the comrades you carry rather than Otus himself.
+ Unlimited flying ability from the outset is a neat touch.
+ Interesting and unique mix of twin-stick shooter controls and environmental puzzles.
- Controls are annoying by default. A single button acts as “Lift Comrade”, “Lift Item” and “Open Door” and generally your comrades take priority. Whilst it’s fun to chuck them away the first time it gets tiresome as time goes on.
- Some great set pieces are marred by the lack of explanation of the controls leaving you to work them out on your own and resulting in a few insta-deaths.
- Somehow there’s camera issues?! Whilst the main game scrolls in all directions sometimes you need to push the screen along at the edge and this can cause havoc when attacking enemies as they flick to being off screen etc.
- Taking a hit results in Otus flying backwards and usually into a wall. It’s sometimes makes sense but can often be frustrating - No Map, re-entering or re-exploring an area isn’t fun as you rarely recall the specific locations of chests etc.
An intriguing story viewed through the eyes of a sadly gormless protagonist...
+ There’s a great sense of humour to the game found from the dialogue of your comrades and NPC’s you bump into. +Genuinely intriguing plot
- Otus is a silent protagonist which doesn’t allow for much in the way of personality (his cohorts go some way to rectify this).
Make sure you get it on sale.
+ Tidy and complete story which answers the majority of questions its raises.
- There’s not much at all here beyond the main quest.
- Not much in the way of secrets other than extra coins so exploration isn’t really encouraged.
Whilst clearly a labour of love it unfortunately falls short of a few issues which I can’t help could’ve been ironed out with a bit more testing. It kind of feel like the developers vision got in the way of some common sense. Whilst not a complete disaster, visually the art style is appealing throughout and the plot and characters are good, it’s let down by gameplay fundamentals. There’s better games out there as a result.