Developer: D-Pad Studios
Publisher: D-Pad Studios
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows
Release Date: November 1st, 2016
When Owlboy was first brought to my attention, I found myself racking my brain. It was a name I knew I had heard before and there was a good reason for that, the game in question has been in development for nearly a decade. It’s one of those titles you’ve almost certainly heard about sometime over the past few years but can’t put a finger on where or when.
After a night of research, I came to the simple conclusion that a friend simply must have mentioned it to me in the past but Twitter was abuzz with news on the game, so I figured what the hell, I’ll give it a shot. After all, I love a good old school platformer, and the character design seems downright adorable. After my first hour with Owlboy my one fear that a game that’s been in development for nearly ten years could be a broken mess, however, it seems D-Pad Studios time went into polishing up what turned out to be an amazing experience.
In Owlboy you play as Otus, a young owl in a not so great situation. You see his teacher and mentor is a kind of a jerk. He along with some of the other owls in training, often mock Otus for general incompetence and for being mute. Poor Otus just wants to make everyone in the village proud, but bullies will be bullies.
Otus’ journey begins when he is swept up into the adventure of a lifetime. Getting a hold of three ancient Owl relics before the evil pirate Maelstrom and his crew can get a hold of them to use as weapons. The plot is full of twists and turns, so I won’t spoil that here, but I will make mention of a few things Owlboy does incredibly well.
For starters, Owlboy’s character animations are second to none. They really help you get a sense of each characters personality for example Otus himself will often stare at his hands a twiddle his thumbs evoking his timid demeanor while Geddy, Otus’ first ally and friend can often be seen flailing his arms in a panic(Geddy is a bit of a coward).
Storytelling, as well as pacing, is another element that the team at D-Pad Studios nails. Owlboy doesn’t take its time getting you swept up in it’s 8 to 10-hour story. I’m not ashamed to admit I beat the game in roughly two sittings. Owlboy follows a rather linear path but keeps you interested most of the way through. It’s puzzle filled Zelda-like dungeons blend in seamlessly with the story-driven path and creates a feeling of intimacy I haven’t felt with a game in a while. It’s hard to put down.
Gameplay comes as platforming with a twist; Otus can fly which would typically make any platforming scenario a breeze but Owlboy’s incredibly vertical design and use of moving obstacles and variables like wind currents make for some interesting play. Otus has a basic spin attack that can be utilized simply to stun enemies but must rely on his allies to attack. Otus will gather three allies with unique combat abilities on his journey. Otus can carry his allies while in flight in order to take down enemies. Each character is equipped with a unique firearm, the first of which, Geddy carries a basic pistol for taking down enemies but later introduced characters like Alphonse feature more distinct weapons that will also help Otus with environmental obstacles.
So should you pick up Owlboy? If you’re looking for something to scratch that old-school, itch while still expereincing something entirely new and unique I’d say yes. For a completely excellent platformer, I’d say it’s worth the $25 price of admission. D-Pad Studios, if you’re reading, I’d like a sequel now.
Score: 8 out of 10