The fruition of a decade’s worth of labour has resulted in a game that is an absolute master piece. Owlboy is the vision of Simon Stafsnes Andersen with a lot of inspiration coming from Nintendo games which Andersen was a big fan of. The game has been developed and also published by D-Pad Studio. The development first started in 2007 and was scraped and restarted multiple times much to the dismay of the fans while also taking a toll on Andersen’s mental health. So after a decade’s worth of wait, let’s see how Owlboy does.
Owlboy is a dungeon exploration type platformer game that really deviates a lot from the norms of the genre. You play as Otus a mute young human-owl hybrid who can fly, roll and spin but can’t do much besides that. The unique take of this game is that you use the help of your friends to overcome your weakness. For example, Otus can carry his friend Getty who has a gun and can shoot enemies and certain objects to open pathways. This allows Otus to overcome his inability of being unable to shoot guns or have any sort of ranged combat. This unique take of not using actual weapons but different characters to aid you on your journey is quite refreshing and helps flesh out these characters and Otus’ relationship with them.
The game is very story driven and starts off when Sky Pirates attack Otus’ village and follows his journey as he tries to save his village. The whole story is very bittersweet with a lot of underlying themes due to all the well written characters that we meet along the way. While the the whole game isn’t too long and only lasts for about 10 hours, the characters really grew on me and I was so engrossed in their stories that by the end I was really happy to be a part of the journey while also sad since it ended and there wasn’t more of it.
The game has an amazing pixel art that was a joy to look at. With so much detail to each stage and every part of the environment, the art style is truly marvelous and had me take screenshots quite frequently. The sound design is also good. It goes hand in hand with the pixel art style to give you the “retro” feel but the heroic musical soundtrack that the game has adds an extra layer of emotion to the story telling and gameplay.
I really loved the audio-visual presentation of the game, especially since it has so many unique and beautiful stages and levels to explore since it has a lot of loot and collectibles to offer thanks to its Metroidvania style world. The game never bored me with it’s combat since it does a good job of combining exploration, puzzle solving and combat and varied enemies to provide a very organic and fluid experience. Not to mention the interesting boss battles and the fun but rare action sequences that the game has, it never got repetitive.
Owlboy is a phenomenal game that is a love letter to the games of yesteryear. Games that were the start of a vast majority of people’s journey into video games. You can see that it takes influence from those amazing games while also strongly creating it’s own identity. It’s a beautiful coming together of a great story filled with memorable characters, innovative gameplay and audio-visuals that wrap up the whole experience in it’s splendour. Owlboy is an absolutely must play game, especially for those who have grown up playing Nintendo platformers.