It’s time to look at another one of the Christmas titles. Owlboy is a classic side scroller that you may or may not have heard of. It’s an indie title that managed to make a pretty good name for itself. In this era of nostalgia it’s easy to see how this game could succeed, but even without that element it’s just a sound game through and through. The gameplay is solid and the plot is good. At the end of the day those are the key ingredients in making a solid video game.
The plot starts with an owl named Otus. He’s had a pretty rough time of it as his mentor constantly puts him down with insults. Otus tries hard, but he just can’t seem to get anything right. He is put on watch duty one day but leaves his post and then invaders show up. The kingdom is quickly taken down and naturally Otus is blamed. To be fair, he does deserve some blame here, but based on how quickly the kingdom went down it would not have mattered much anyway. Now Otus must try to secure the 4 relics before the villains do or the entire planet may suffer the consequences. Otus isn’t really a go getter but fortunately his best friend is here to help. Together, along with a few more allies along the way, Otus is ready to finally make a name for himself and prove that anyone can make a difference.
The gameplay is sort of like your typical 2D platformer, but with a twist. The twist is quite massive as you can fly. As Otus, you can zoom across the stage and your main attack is a spin move. You can also carry your partner around which will give you a new attack based on who you are carrying. Whether you obtain a gun, fire, or another attack it definitely increases your options. You can quickly switch from one partner to the next throughout a level based on who will be the most effective to use. The controls when flying are quite smooth and you definitely won’t hear any complaints from me. I will say that the town is a little hard to navigate with how huge it is though. I couldn’t find the shop to get my health upgrade after the tutorial so I had to fight the final boss with the default stats. I still won of course, but the health would have been nice. My game ended up freezing at the end, but fortunately it was after winning so I could end without any doubts.
As the game is named Owlboy you’d probably assume that it is referring to Otus right? Well, that ends up not being the case and it’s interesting to see who the Owlboy really is. With a limited number of characters you’ll probably be able to guess before long, but it’s a good twist nonetheless. The cast is reasonably solid. The best character for me was certainly the main villain. That’s why it’s a bit of a shame that you never get to take him on. He ends up getting his plot resolved through a cutscene so the final boss is someone else who isn’t quite as cool. The main villain’s design was just so solid so maybe he’ll show up again in a sequel or something.
I was less impressed with Otus though. As you may know, I’ve never been a big fan of the more timid characters. I like the aggressive fighters who rush into danger constantly and are always ready for some big fights. That just doesn’t describe Otus even if he does get his big moments at the end. His best friend is also a bit sketchy since he was quick to ditch the cause and tends to panic a lot. I won’t go as far as to say I was rooting for the villains, but I do admit that they were the more interesting characters. Nonetheless, the game will keep you entertained with its story.
Owlboy is fairly short so the plot starts up very quickly. The enemies waste no time in attacking and the plot is always moving. The main game will take you 4-7 hours I’d say but if you try to get all of the gems and such along the way you can extend the time a bit. As a result, there isn’t a whole lot of replay value though. Grabbing all of the trophies in the game will naturally help though and grabbing all of the gems will take a good amount of patience. The game doesn’t sell for $60 though so the reduced price helps complete the package and make it worth the purchase. A good, but quick game is better than a long, but tedious one.
The graphics look pretty nice. The sprites are very clean and polished while the level designs are varied and original. It’s easy to keep up with what’s happening on screen. I thought the soundtrack was decent as well, perhaps not the most memorable but it worked well enough. Owlboy succeeds in its technical merits and as I mentioned the character designs could be quite good. Some nice lighting techniques were used for the main villain to really show how intimidating he was.
Overall, Owlboy is definitely a fun game. While it may not be quite as loud and energetic as something like Shantae, it has its own charm. It’s a very peaceful game to have fun with and the gameplay is pretty unique. Being able to fly almost indefinitely is always tough for the level designers and I think they did a good job of not letting it become too OP. They definitely deserve some kudos there. If you haven’t played this game yet then I’d recommend changing that. This is a solid game that I could recommend to anyone.