I spent a whole day in front of the computer screen playing Owlboy not because I wanted to get out my first review as quick as possible. But because I wanted to actually play this game.
Owlboy is a game that sinks its’ talons into you and doesn’t let go until the very end. The story and gameplay soar above the competition and show that NINE years of hard work and dedication that D-Pad Studio put into this piece of art have been worth every single second of blood sweat and tears.
Owlboy is a seemingly simple story about a mute owl boy named Otus, who kind of just sucks at being an Owl and his military friend Getty, who works in the military defending people against the reign of evil robot pirates. Along the way they meet up with the defected pirate, Alphonse and a very very interesting spider named Twig.
Each character in Owlboy has their own distinct abilities that get you through the dungeons and the massive puzzle-like over world.
Otus gets to fly around the screen freely, he has a dodge, a spin move and he can pick up items and his companions. His dodge in the air and on the ground gives him momentum, so you can spam it as much as possible and move very quickly around the screen.
Getty is a shooter, he’s the main way you’ll be dealing damage in the game for the first half.
Alphonse has a big musket that shoots a big fire-ball and then becomes a lighter that will ignite torches and burn foliage.
Stick can shoot webs and can hold bad guys in their place, if you hold down the shoot button he will pull you across the screen and you will be invisible to incoming attacks.
The game is like Zelda in its’ gameplay structure. There are many dungeons that you will work your way through with the help of your friends. The way you do this is very unique though and one of the reasons I love this game so much. The main gameplay mechanic of Owlboy is you have to pick up and carry your partners around. So you end up having to drop them and tossing them aside to grab items in the dungeons or the world. It’s very seamless. The game introduces an item to you that lets your allies teleport in and out of the screen, so you don’t have to worry about where they are or if they die (which is good.)
The controls in Owlboy were meticulously crafted and tuned to a point where everything seems so flawless when you’re playing at your best.
The game is very unique in the way that the speed of which the game is played rests highly on your shoulders as the player. You can be like me and go as fast as possible and try to be as flashy as you want, then end up getting killed a lot. Or you can be like others and take it slowly. Most games that are played fast are done so through exploits and glitches, but Owlboy has embraced the idea of total player control and really lets you go crazy with it.
The boss fights in this game are so fun and out of this world. The final boss fight is one of the coolest and visually appealing fights I have ever done. All of the fights in this game are unique and stick out. They’re all very difficult, but very rewarding. Owlboy makes you think on your failures with every respawn.
Now my only complaint about the game is actually the difficulty of the platforming at the end of the game. It was difficult to complete the level, avoiding spoilers here, but I know that it was intentionally put that way. I don’t think I agree with the choice though, the difficulty spike does come out of nowhere.
Despite that the game is phenomenal!
The pixel art done by Simon. S. Andersen is to DIE for. There hasn’t been a modern indie game ever to achieve such high fidelity pixel graphics. Many indie titles like to do pixel art and it looks good, don’t get me wrong. Owlboy does it 100% right and breathes new life into the art form.
The sound direction done by Jonathon Geer is once again, mind blowingly good. The studio hired a small orchestra to perform the orchestrated music within the game. And the composed bit tunes that are spread out and mixed with the orchestra is jaw dropping.
The writing in Owlboy is top-notch, the humor and charisma that these characters have are well thought out and fantastic. Each character has a generic video game archetype that gets turned on its head at some point throughout and it’s exploited to go deeper within the character and progress the story. (Twig is my personal favorite character.)
The story is a complex tale that is told simply. Many of the situations that the characters get put in are generic and what we are used to as video game players and what we have come to expect from games of this ilk. But what Owlboy does different is that it turns that on its head as well and the game never ends up going where you expect it to.
All of the elements of this game come together and make a beautiful and cohesive piece, something that a lot of games have truly been missing for a while. Everything from the graphics, to the music to the gameplay have a meaning in correlation to the story of Owlboy. All the sums of the games parts come together and give you a never ending feeling of awe.
Everything in Owlboy is a message to you as the player and to the characters themselves. Owlboy at the core is a beautiful and chipper story about failure. It teaches you as the player that failure will definitely come and that you can overcome it. The game hits you over the head constantly with hard obstacles and puzzles, but you persevere. Otus fails at being a true Owl, but he continues on. Alphonse fails at being a pirate. Getty fails at being a solider.
Owlboy shows us that through failure there is a future and through our shortcomings, there are others there to lift us up. Destruction is another form of creation and failure is a new beginning.
+ Beautiful graphics
+ Heart warming and unique story
+ Tight controls
+ Amazing cast
– Frustrating end game platforming
Final Score: 9.7/10
Personal aside: This game came to me at a perfect time in my life and symbolically enough it’s the first review on my review blog. Owlboy moved me to tears as it dropped me from the heavens into the hallowed Earth. It made me realize how beautiful my life was and how thankful and inspired I should be to press on and continue doing these blogs. Owlboy is a god send, literally, and I can’t thank the studio more. This game is definitely the best game I have played all year. And more than anything it is definitely one of my favorite games of all time.
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