For weeks I’ve swam the depths of the ocean on Sea of Thieves and now I’ve been give the opportunity to soar through the skies. This week I had the pleasure of playing the beautiful Owlboy and I had a blast.
We join our human-owl hybrid hero, Otus, seeking to join The Owls, a group who protect their home in the sky. The world as we find it is the result of a major catastrophe and there are shenanigans afoot.
Owlboy is a platform adventure in a Metroidvania style. With the game set on a series of floating islands and being an owl(boy), the main method of traversal is flight. There are no modern mechanics like stamina either, so you can fly as long as you like around the wonderfully detailed environments. Extra companions can also be collected, each adding new skills to your roster. All of them available via a fancy teleporting device which is mapped to the bumpers.
Like many heroes before him, we start off waking up in bed unaware of what lies ahead. Our mentor instructs us to patrol the village and look out for pirates. Here we can learn the basic mechanics, talk to the locals and get a feel for the game. A series of mini tutorials also give us some background on the struggles Otus has faced. And he feels fleshed out as do the rest of the cast. Weakness seems to be the main focus of the story as is the power of friendship. It could be cheesy but everyone is loveably brought to life. The character and the story kept me engaged as things got more complicated. This is no mere pirate stomping quest.
It’s pretty dialogue heavy for a platformer as well, with each character receiving long monologues. But these moments help to add flavour to the story and the occasional quiet moment allows you to get to know your friends better. You’ll find a campfire early on and I recommend taking the time to sit there and talk with everyone. Everything is well written and feels like an important part of the game, rather than being a tacked on addition.
On his own, Otus can do very little other than fly, spin and roll. He’s weak and his mentor reminds him of this every step of the way. Downtrodden and dejected he cuts a sombre figure at times. He doesn’t want to be a failure but how can he succeed when nobody will ever give him a chance? It’s here we meet our new “best buddy” Geddy, who bears a striking resemblance to Luigi in his little green costume. With his little pop gun and bags of enthusiasm he’s always there to pick Otus up when he needs encouragement. Other buddies bring new skills to the party and help reinforce the idea that your friends are always there when you need them.
It’s not just the characters who are beautifully crafted, it’s the environments as well. Taking in floating islands, thorny mazes and ancient temples, everything is gorgeously detailed. Giant stone monoliths from an ancient civilisation clash with the newer steam powered technology throughout. But none of it looks out of place. There’s also a simple day night cycle as well, but this is purely aesthetic. However the changes from bright blues, to the faded yellows and blazing oranges of a dusk sky are delightful. Each character is also lovingly animated with each displaying a range of expressions and emotion.
Within each dungeon you’ll solve simple switch puzzles and hunt for collectibles. And there are LOTS of collectibles… There are a few stealth sections which are easily overcome as they don’t punish you severely if you mess up. It also has some simple light-based puzzles and at various points you’ll need to combine powers. Nothing gets too taxing. The occasional boss fight also introduces puzzle mechanics so it’s not as simple as shooting them in the face until they die. I finished the game but there is still a myriad of stuff to look for. It generously saves the game before the final boss fight so you can go back and hoover up what you’ve missed.
Overall, it was a genuinely enjoyable experience, the story was well crafted and I wanted to keep playing long after I should have gone to bed. I’ll likely go back and see if I can uncover its final hidden mysteries and I highly recommend you go out and start your own journey now.