Reviews - Updated on April 12, 2022

We missed Owlboy for nothing

Indie developers prefer to release their games before September for a reason. In autumn, when big-budget new releases come out one after another, getting lost among Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and other shooters and action games is easy. This happened with Owlboy – the press praised the game, part of the audience heard something about it, but it was not destined to become insanely popular.

Now the project is gradually released on new platforms, and I decided to get acquainted with it on PS4. And it turned out to be just as I imagined it to be – amazingly beautiful, touching and so exciting that even after many years I will certainly recommend it to anyone who is looking for an exciting adventure with an interesting story and enjoyable gameplay.

Long road

The game is about an owlet boy named Otus, who is constantly thrashed about for every little misstep. He is not a model student and is mocked by the other owls in the village for his shyness and dumbness. You immediately fall in love with the hero, you want to help him so that they stop mocking him. And he has the opportunity to prove himself – sky pirates attack the habitat of owls, ready to turn the flying archipelago upside down for access to ancient relics.

Owlboy was developed for about 10 years, and during this time the authors managed to connect the plot and gameplay so closely that one simply could not exist here without the other. The mere fact that Otus cannot be a hero without the help of his friends already makes the story unusual. First, his best friend Geddy becomes his partner, whom Otus grabs by the collar with his paws and lifts into the sky, and after that a couple more heroes are recorded as companions. With their help, the owlet destroys opponents (when a button is pressed, a friend starts shooting) and solves puzzles that are quite common.

The storyline pleases with unpredictable twists, and the characters are written so well that there is often more life in them than in three-dimensional models in popular blockbusters. There is an enchanting atmosphere of a cozy fairy tale in which no one hides emotions, and tragic episodes leave wounds on the heart of not only the player, but every hero. The dialogues in Owlboy are not voiced, but they are interesting to read, and the rich animation of all the characters never ceases to amaze with attention to detail.

This applies to all visual design – Owlboy can be called one of the most beautiful “pixelated” games to date. Breathtaking spacious locations, beautiful rooms where you can look for things that are invisible at first glance for a long time – the game does not try to be like classic platformers, but takes several steps forward compared to them.

The same applies to the magnificent orchestral soundtrack – depending on the situation, a variety of melodies are included: during chases or other tense moments, an oboe or cello sounds instead of a flute, violin and piano.

We missed Owlboy for nothing

Geddy won’t leave Otus in trouble.

But not only music and graphics can surprise Owlboy – the gameplay also often brings pleasant surprises. Due to how often the conditions in which Otus finds himself change, you can’t get bored even for a minute. Then you fly around a huge location, talking with other owls and visiting their homes. Then you find yourself in the temple and solve riddles. Followed by an action-packed episode with an escape from a huge monster, then you hide from enemies in the bushes – so many ideas are implemented in the game that it becomes obvious what the creators spent so much time on. And even if some of the episodes make you remember the old platform games from the NES and SNES, Owlboy does not seem outdated – it will be relevant in 10 years.

Master Class

With the advent of new mechanics, puzzles also change. To solve riddles, you need to actively use Otus’s ability to tirelessly fly and grab objects with his paws. Sometimes we need to destroy the barrier in order to gain access to the button that opens the door, and put a partner on it. In other episodes, drag the plugs so that the draft from the holes in the walls does not blow away the clouds. Sometimes the owlet loses the ability to fly, and the game turns into a standard jumping platformer. And in some cases, you need the help of different companions, between which you can quickly switch with one click.

Otus does not know how to fight, but no one better than him could search for treasures and secrets. If a chest is buried in the ground, its top is always visible, and the hero can hook on the lid and pull it out. In addition to chests, there are berries that restore health, and rings hanging in the air, for the activation of which they give gold coins. In the store, you can buy for them an improvement in the weapons of partners and an increase in the supply of lives – not exactly a worthy prize, but I don’t consider it completely useless: in some episodes, Otus is hit with such cuffs that additional health points will come in handy.

We missed Owlboy for nothing

You can’t look at Otus’ frightened face without laughing.

Instead of an owl of enemies, his comrades eliminate them, and each time you don’t need to grab them by the scruff of the neck – if you press the fire button while in the air, a friend will automatically teleport into the paws of Otus. Some of the enemies die from several hits, and some cannot be destroyed with ordinary bullets. Someone can be eliminated only by throwing his projectiles at him, while someone has all parts of the body open, but the head is protected.

Boss fights are especially exciting – they do not take much time, but they use original mechanics. The player has to use the whole arsenal of skills of Otus and his friends: tumble in the air in order to dodge projectiles, switch between comrades depending on the skill needed at the moment and shoot at different targets. Fights take place in closed spaces, and often I got confused with the buttons due to the need to make decisions quickly. However, this did not prevent you from enjoying the battles in any way – they are well staged, and with great music they look and play even better.

Owlboy is like that – every element in it is polished to a shine. She never ceases to amaze and rarely makes you do the same thing for too long. Fights do not drag out, jumping on platforms are replaced by entertaining puzzles or stealth episodes. You never know what awaits you in the next location, and most importantly, all this is perfectly woven into the narrative and is not confusing. Yes, and it’s very interesting to follow the plot – this is the case when you want to call the game not a platformer or “metroidvania”, although that would be correct, but a real adventure.

We missed Owlboy for nothing

The hero gets first-aid kits in an unusual way.

***

More than once during the passage, I stopped and listened to the music, admiring how accurately it conveys the mood. Then I stopped again to get a better look at how cool the multi-layered backdrops are animated in the vicinity of the flying archipelago. Everything in this game is done so high quality and with such great love that you don’t want to part with it for a second. All good things come to an end, but the best stay in the memory for a long time. And Owlboy, with its wonderful story, cozy universe and bright characters, will not be forgotten for a long time.

Pros: nice atmosphere; great visual design and wonderful music; interesting story; a hero who wants to empathize, and memorable secondary characters; varied gameplay.

Cons: sometimes you start to get confused in the buttons.

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