While pixel art has become a pretty common art style in the recent indie games, on PS4, Owl Boy takes the style to the next level with an incredible amount of color and detail. Any screenshot of the game is guaranteed to catch your eye.
Once you get into the game, you’ll find a smart and sprawling adventure that combines nuanced characters with clever puzzles and intense boss encounters. Does all of this sound too good to be true? Let’s find out if this Owl Boy has wings, or if it crashes before it can soar.
A World Brimming With Charming Characters
The story of Owl Boy stats a mute owl named Otus who constantly struggles to make his mentor proud of him. The looming threat of the sky pirates fuels the pressure that Otus puts on himself. Like many a young adventurer, Otus quickly finds himself swept up in something much larger than himself.
Thankfully, he’s not alone. During the course of your 8-10 hour adventure, you’ll come across a wide cast of characters, some of which are simple NPCs, while a few others will become integral to your journey’s success.
The story’s scope is much wider than the opening hours would have you believe, but it never fails to keep you invested both mentally and emotionally. Despite text dialogue being the primary form of exposition, the game’s writing and superb animation breathe life into every scenario.
I won’t go into detail, because Owl Boy is a tale best experienced with as little knowledge as possible. Don’t let the beautiful graphics or the cute characters fool you, this game is going to tug at your heartstrings.
There’s also a nice amount of world-building throughout the adventure that makes the settings feel more mysterious and intriguing. All of this contributes to an adventure that feels cohesive and meaningful, while never spinning its wheels or wasting your time.
I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and willingness for the story to flesh out its characters and world. Some games in this genre tend to have very surface-level stories, which is why Owl Boy’s earnest and heartfelt tale really resonated to me.
A Familiar Mixture of Puzzles and Combat
The structure and design of Owl Boy’s gameplay will be familiar to veteran gamers, but there are some twists on the formula that help it stand out. For starters, Otus can fly at will, allowing you to zip around the game’s large chambers and sprawling areas.
Otus himself possesses the ability to perform a basic attack and dodge, but you’ll need the help of his friends to do any real damage. The first person to join you on your journey is Otus’ old friend Geddy. By grabbing and carrying him beneath you, Geddy’s blaster can be used as one of your primary attacks.
Two other characters eventually join your arsenal, but you’ll need to leverage their abilities to take down specific enemies, bosses, and puzzles. Thankfully, you quickly gain the ability to teleport your allies to you at a moment’s notice, so utilizing them is far easier than it may sound.
Combat is fast and frantic, and the enemy types force you to change your strategy to defeat them on a fairly regular basis. Health is dolled out in the form of fruits and vegetables that you can grab and eat. You can even push your health above the maximum level, but if you eat too much, you’ll take a hit.
You’ll also find plenty of coins to pick up and use towards upgrades at a local shop. If you really want to hunt for everything, Owl Boy will keep you very busy as you seek out its secrets and hidden chests.
For those playing through the main portion of the game, you can expect to spend about 8-10 hours doing so, and you’ll find an excellent mixture of combat, puzzles, and some intense boss encounters along the way.
It’s all paced out very well, and the experience never feels repetitive. One minute you may be running through ancient ruins from a charging machine, while the next you’ll find yourself dodging cannon blasts from a massive sky pirate ship.
It’s a masterclass in pacing and design. For this reason alone, it stands tall among the greats in the action/adventure genre. My only issues with the game were some spikes in the difficulty during certain scenarios that forced me to take a break out of frustration and a few times when I had trouble picking up objects or allies due to being just outside the field of interactivity while flying.
Let’s find out how it all looks in motion.
Stunning Art and Whimsical Music
Owl Boy’s pixel-art style is something we’ve seen adopted a lot in recent indie games, but I can’t think of a single one that does it this well. For starters, the art in the game’s massive environments is extremely detailed and colorful.
Everything pops on a big screen HDTV in a way that few others can match. This is paired with one of my favorite soundtracks in recent memory. The score is a breathtaking mixture of whimsical woodwind work, choral elements, and orchestral pieces. It lends an almost magical feeling to the game’s world and environments.
To properly describe how amazing this soundtrack is, I could absolutely see this work in a big budget animated Disney film, it’s that good. When you boil it all down, Owl Boy is a superb action adventure game that combines a surprisingly emotional story with great design, pacing, and presentation.
There were some spikes in the difficulty and the occasional hiccup with the controls when I tried to pick up objects or allies, but overall this game will go down in history as an indie classic, and it’s absolutely worth your time.
Final Score: 9.0/10
A copy of Owl Boy was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 6/27/18