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Owlboy

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Help Owlboy and Otus conquer dungeons and much more in this great retro-style platformer game for PC

Pros

  • Beautiful soundtrack
  • Retro style, but wonderfully textured and colored graphics for levels
  • Stunning level design with many diverse environments
  • Classic RPG elements such as consumable items, compelling dialogue
  • Easy to learn combat system and controls
  • Steady difficulty curve

Cons

  • No co-operative mode available

Owlboy is a retro style 2D platformer game for PC (Windows), developed by D-Pad Studios, which tasks you with exploring a vast colorful world as Owlboy. The game is available to download as a demo version only. The full version is available externally. 

A Retro Style Platformer

When people think of classic platformer games, they are immediately drawn in by the simplicity and elegance of their designs, their controls and their core gameplay. Much of the reason why the likes of Super Mario Bros, early Metroid titles amongst many other such games achieved lasting popularity was because of their attention paid to the simple things and is part of the reason why game design has advanced the way it has and in particular why contemporary indie design has witnessed a revival in the classic side-scrolling platformer. Owlboy is a great example of a simple platformer done well, encompassing the features which made all the old classics so great. 

Core Gameplay and Features

The demo version of the game opens with a breathtaking orchestral soundtrack and a menu screen from which you can create a new save file. After a short introduction, you can jump straight into the gameplay. The in-game soundtrack is decidedly more retro, but it perfectly suits the visual style of the game, one of its most impressive features. Character movement is sharp and fluid, with some wonderful animations for flying and attacking. Environments, while rendered in lower definition, contain some truly amazing textures and details for grass, cliffs and ridges, stone walls, background depth, NPCs and a lot more. Of particular note is the use of color tinting for background objects such as cliffs. The diversity of the environments is also highly impressive. 

In the game, you will play as an owl who must navigate through perilous floating environments. Controls utilize directional buttons for flying and lateral movement as well as WASD, so it's all fairly standard. The game has some RPG-style elements which supplement the narrative such as dialogue with various NPCs, for which dialogue boxes appear, a health bar and some upgrades. These can sometimes be used as 'gunners' who act as weapons for you. Owlboy will lift them up and allow you to aim a small circular cursor at incoming enemies. As you progress, you will encounter three other gunners, each with their own weapons and abilities. You can also fling your gunner into inaccessible locations and he will teleport back to you. 

The game would have lent well to a co-operative mode, but sadly this is absent. It's saying a lot, though, that this is the only negative point I can think of for the game. 

As you fly through the environment, you will encounter various types of enemies on your way. Your gunner will be able to take care of most of them. Many of the enemies will be guarding rings which, if passed through, will reward the player with special Buccanary coins. These can be exchanged at shops for various items. Otus also has multiple consumable items to help him (herbs or 'Ish' which increase health, attack power, etc.). 

Many of the enemies will be guarding rings which, if passed through, will reward the player with special Buccanary coins. These can be exchanged at shops for various items. Otus also has multiple consumable items to help him (herbs or 'Ish' which increase health, attack power, etc.)

The game has a fairly steady difficulty curve in levels. Your gunner can take three or four hits before his health bar depletes. As level design becomes more intricate - again a testament to the game's outstanding artwork and visual design - so too will enemies become more diverse, hurling projectiles and incorporating other interesting mechanics. Puzzles in dungeons will also become more complex. If you lose all of your health, you will be returned to the last save point in the game, contained a series of conveniently located pools scattered throughout the world. Once you get over the notion of talking to a fish (as a talking owl), it's a handy feature. 

The Verdict

Owlboy is a stunning game. Incorporating classic 2D layouts, brilliant level design and absolutely outstanding graphics, colors, textures and animations, it's a perfect tribute to the old school platformer. The gunner mechanic makes your travels all the more interesting, requiring you to carefully defeat enemies while keeping your gunner safe. The game also has some nice RPG elements like consumable items, dungeons, puzzles, periodic save points and clean dialogue boxes for chatting with the game's many NPCs. While the demo version is somewhat lacking in content, it's still fun. A co-operative mode would have been nice, allowing one person to control the gunner and another the owl. In any case, whether you're a newly seasoned gamer or an old school veteran, there is something in this game for everyone and it's well worth downloading. 

Owlboy icon

Type Demo

Version Demo

Size 79.58 MB

Other versions

Demo

Rating