Owlboy Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: Dpad Studio

Publisher:Dpad Studio

Ported by Blitworks

Release Date: February 13th

Physical edition is out in May.

Price as of Article: $24,99 £18,99

Technical issues

Update-13/02/2014-All below technical issues have been resolved with a day one patch.

 

  • Invisible Geddy, Your companion can become invisible when thrown in a direction by aiming with the Right Thumbstick. Picking them up will reveal them again. To avoid this issue, you can drop your companion normally by tapping the ZL.
  • Memory Leak, at certain points in the game, textures can be swapped out due to a memory leak in the game.
  • Transparency Pop, Some effects can pop because of a transparency issue.
  • Bonfire Dialogue, Some dialogue options by the bonfire in Tropos may not display properly.
  • Teleport to Tropos, During the scene where Otus teleports in a white beam, controllers are enabled. Do not leave the cave during this scene, as this might impede your progress.
  • Music Halt, Some scenes are dependent on the music in the game, and these scenes might not function

 

Story

Owlboy Nintendo Switch Review

Otus, our protagonist, is a mute Owl and is not treated in the nicest way by his mentor Asio.  He is seen as an Owl who cannot be trusted with any meaningful jobs and the villagers consider him an unworthy successor to the Owl’s heritage. Otus then is not your traditional kind of hero, instead, Otus has his close friend, in Geddy, who always has his back and you meet more companions along the way.

Owlboy
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The story builds quite nicely throughout the game and these companions all come together to form a great team; which is needed to eventually help your village against the evil pirate villain. I enjoyed the story a lot and feel it really adds depth to the overall experience of the game. I enjoyed the fact that Otus is not your traditional hero but is, in fact, flawed. He would not be able to complete the mammoth task facing him alone. Though your companions all come together to help Otus on this treacherous adventure.

Audio

The score here was created by Jonathan Geer and is absolutely majestic. Johnathan has created some wonderful pieces of music for this game which is engaging, heartwarming, atmospheric and is just a perfect accompaniment to match the wonderful pixel art visuals. Instruments such as flute, clarinet, violins, bass and cello are all present here and If I had just been to the theatre here in London this is the type of music I would have come to expect.  It’s how the game expresses itself to you, the player, through the music for example when you find Geddy, everything is more upbeat all of a sudden or when you take flight for the first time by yourself to explore, it just all feels like you want to explore more. It is what this game needed as there is no voice acting just the text on the screen. Another highlight is going into a shop and it has that Mall type music playing which sounds so right and at the same time so predictable.

Absolutely wonderful stuff and if this is your thing I would suggest checking out jonathangeer.com to check out his discography or going straight to Bandcamp where you can buy the digital album. This is certainly a composer I would have no hesitation in supporting.  The Tropos day track is stunning and well worth a listen away from the game with some good headphones. https://jonathangeer.bandcamp.com/album/owlboy-ost 

The sound effects all sound great adding to the already excellent musical score, from Obus flying and hearing the flap of his wings to when he lets out a little screech when he gets hurt. When you find a secret it has the little Zelda vibe going on. Collecting coins makes that nice little che ching sound and when opening a gate it has the sturdy, mechanical sound. All very good indeed, the sound department is where Owlboy excels.

Visuals and performance

Visually this game is described as a love letter to pixel art, which by the way was ten years in the making, and it shows through here. Even though this was released a year ago on PC the visuals still stand the test of time today. In my opinion, they are beautiful. The characters are drawn and expressed superbly well through their animation but it’s the levels themselves which are a real standout. The detail in the backgrounds is absolutely stunning. Simon Anderson worked on the game since day one and in that 10 year period it is kind of ironic how we have seen pixel art games go from being a pretty new and interesting idea to becoming popular and ultimately now we see a lot of them but the art style here certainly still stands out in the game is 2D but you can move up, sideways and down which feels pretty unique still.

Owlboy levels
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Each area is unique, you can expect your molten areas and lush green jungles. Tropos and Stratos are beautiful to fly around and explore, You have your caves in Vellie, Ice areas and the wonderful pirate ship to explore. We have seen these categories of areas in many of these sorts of adventure games but here they are wonderfully depicted.

The game looks great in handeld mode also but I did notice slowdown from time to time and some dropped frames. This was especially noticeable in the boss battle with the giant worm.

Gameplay

This is an adventure exploration game but with lots of flight and is rather different to traditional platforms that you may be used to playing. It’s all rather charming and remembering that you can fly to most platforms takes a little getting used too but it’s certainly very enjoyable.

Otus only has the ability to fly, spin and roll; his moves do not change. Now from what we know about Otus and his start to the story, this would make sense as we would not expect him to all of a sudden have extraordinary abilities. Instead, you meet a bunch of companions along the way and by working together this will allow you to accomplish certain tasks. When you meet Geddy you can fly him around to use his short ranged weapon to shoot enemies which certainly makes things easier.

I find it hilarious that you can drop Geddy from any height at any time without consequence. One would have thought he would drop to his death and if it were not for the game’s charm I may have been a little more critical. There is no doubt that Geddy is one of the main characters and does most of Otus’s talking for him. The brilliant thing here is you can access each character whenever you need them simply by cycling through them pressing L + R in flight mode or if walking they appear next to you but to be able to control the characters ‘move’ you have to be in flight mode. Once paired up with one of these characters you can activate the move by pressing ZR and use ZL to drop them.

Molten Owlboy
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Meeting Alphonse offers you the option to have a powerful shot. The shot from the pirates gun is useful because it can burn away prickly vines and allow you access to areas previously inaccessible to you. When you meet Twig your companion roster is complete. Twig gives you the ability to pull through strong winds and shoots a web leaving enemies paralysed which is handy to take down enemies from further away. It’s how you use these characters and their abilities which is the challenge in the game. You will come across puzzles, which are not too difficult to solve.  Neither is the adventure overall which will take you around eight or so hours.

There is a lot of fun to be had exploring and collecting trinkets.  Bucannary coins, usually from chests, can be used to purchase the trinkets which give you upgrades in the form of extra health for example. Golden disks, of which there are three, must be found and placed in certain areas to open up the Ancient Sanctuary. Add an extra five hours to amass all of the collectables.

Controlling Otus is simple enough B to roll, A to jump and double tap A to enter flight mode. It gets a little more complicated and a little finicky when you are paired up with a character but have to pick up a vegetable from the ground for example to replenish health. Often I would end up dropping one of the paired characters next to the vegetable I wanted to pick up and would end up picking up the character instead of the vegetable much to my annoyance. Other than that everything works really well.

Flying around takes away quite a few of the platforming that you might expect in a game like this but for me, I enjoyed the changeup. There are still parts where you have to jump around such as in waterfalls where you can’t fly. Other parts such as tight tunnels later in the game. So while there is a lot flying around it’s not 100% of the time. Otus also has his own moves such as his spin and roll which you will need to use from time to time. Enemies range from jumping monkeys, pirates and flying bombs with sensors.

Puzzles while not taxing are fun, I especially enjoyed moving clouds around and squeezing water out of them to solve certain ones. None of it is brain taxing but nice to break up the play nevertheless.

There are quite a few boss battles throughout the adventure which I really enjoyed. They were quite imaginative and each one required you to figure out how to beat them whether it was just blasting them in a certain area or having to make an escape.

frog boss
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In terms of challenge the game is not that demanding to be fair, it’s more about the experience. There are some difficulty spikes, especially with some of the bosses, but most players will get through them after a few tries without much hardship. The latter part of the game is a little more difficult but this is not as challenging, as say, the recent Celeste which for most will just fine.

Exploring and completing dungeons is the name of the game while having your central hub or town where you can upgrade in between exploring. With each dungeon completed, the story moves forward in a linear fashion until you reach the end. The package all comes together to create a really delightful experience and one which I enjoyed very much.

 

Value

Owlboy comes in at $24.99 or £18.99 in the UK which, for an Indie game, is in the higher region of the price scale and is a little on the expensive side. However, I still think the adventure is worth your time and money as it’s a beautiful one to behold.  There is replay value to be had by collecting all of the game’s collectables and you’re looking at an adventure which will give you between eight and fifteen hours gameplay.

 

Pros

P

Story gets you invested

P

Wonderful music

P

Great Visuals

Cons

P

Fiddly controls at times

P

Some Slowdown