Quantcast
Impressions: a promising Owlboy demo teases - Destructoid




Game database:   #ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ         ALL     Xbox One     PS4     360     PS3     WiiU     Wii     PC     3DS     DS     PS Vita     PSP     iOS     Android


Owlboy  



Impressions: a promising Owlboy demo teases


11:30 AM on 08.22.2011
Impressions: a promising Owlboy demo teases  photo



The Owlboy demo makes a good first impression -- after D-Pad Studio's logo flashes, players are treated to a sweeping, pixelated vista as Otus looks on. Pastoral music plays and, though the demo begins in medias res, the menu screen tells players everything they need to know: Otus' home is serene and sweet and it would be terrible if it were attacked by sky pirates. 

It sets the scene nicely and hints at a society based on a series of floating caves, a society in which owlboys are deemed normal and perhaps even crucial to navigating that bizarre, gravity-free world. It's heady stuff.

But, back to the present tense: when Otus' hometown is attacked by sky pirates, he and Geddy -- his sidekick, gunner, guide, and de facto exposition machine -- set off to be heroes. They accomplish this through a mostly elegant mix of flying, shooting, and puzzle solving.

The flight mechanics in Owlboy serve as the central hub of the entire game, which isn't so much a platformer as it is a series of expansive areas that lend themselves to Otus' avian mobility. Branching off from that central tenet are the game's secondary and tertiary mechanics: combat and puzzle-solving, both of which are made possible by Otus' surprisingly strong grip.

By grabbing Geddy -- and later, Alphonse -- by the shoulders, Otus becomes a mobile gun unit, mowing down hapless wildlife to clear a path and collect the red, blue, and green "ish" they leave behind.

Controlling Otus and his gunner independently means that Owlboy plays somewhat like a stiff twin-stick shooter. For me, the simple act of flying, of finding new ways to navigate each screen, is the real joy of Owlboy; and it's a shame that the enemies feel like obstacles blocking the next section of airborne exploration. This is compounded by the fact that most enemies are bullet-sponges and like to bumrush Otus even though he's not particularly mobile enough to avoid them.

The combat is certainly passable -- it's not bad, per se -- but it's too early to say how (or how effectively) it will be integrated into the game as a whole. That there's an entire attendant economy of shops and upgrades and attack-boosting items only muddies the question.

The demo fares better when Otus is using his grip and throw functions to solve puzzles. Even early in the demo, it's clear that Owlboy has potential in the puzzle department, mostly because it's mechanics are so simple -- pick something up and move it somewhere else. By keeping Otus' abilities pared down, D-Pad Studio has the freedom to make puzzles as complicated as they want, so long as it can be solved by something from one place to another. So far, that includes plugging wind tunnels, dropping bombs to open new passages, and watering a giant, presumably carnivorous pitcher plant.

And Owlboy is full of smart, subtle design choices, too. For example, any time Otus and his gunner are separated, players can re-unite them with one click. I often found myself jettisoning Geddy and Alphonse to clear a particularly tricky section or to solve a puzzle only to pick them back up later, no backtracking required.

Owlboy is packed with a number rudimentary systems cribbed from other genres, but D-Pad Studios' eye for design comes through in the things they didn't include. For starters, there don't seem to be any collectibles -- your progress is gated only by your ability to fly, shoot, and think, not by your willingness to magpie trinkets.

More fundamentally, there don't seem to be any physics attached to Owlboy's flight. Otus can hover, quite impossibly, with no input from the player -- there's no need to flap his wings, for example. While this keeps the action simplified and straightforward, it also limits the gunner dynamics: Alphonse is clearly heavier and bulkier than Geddy, but Otus doesn't have to sacrifice any speed to carry him.

There's a lot to like about Owlboy: its art and animation are charming, its music moody and evocative. It taps into the pure, unadulterated joy of being unfettered by gravity. And it manages to fuse a half-dozen (admittedly simplified) systems into one game with few hiccups. I'm just hopeful that the lush and vibrant world that Owlboy teases is complemented by a set of equally robust mechanics hinted at, but never actually presented, here.








Comments not appearing? Anti-virus apps like Avast or some browser extensions can cause this.
Easy fix: Add   [*].disqus.com   to your software's white list. Tada! Happy comments time again.

Did you know? You can now get daily or weekly email notifications when humans reply to your comments.



Review: The Legend of Korra photo
Review: The Legend of Korra
9:00 AM on 10.21.2014


Review: Samurai Warriors 4 photo
Review: Samurai Warriors 4
8:00 AM on 10.21.2014





timeline following:
Owlboy



8:30 AM on 01.21.2013
Owlboy gets new footage and some lovely music

It's been quite a while since we checked in with D-Pad Studios' Owlboy, but the promising indie game has popped its head up again to reveal some lavish game footage and a terrific soundtrack sample courtesy of composer Jonat...more



8:00 PM on 08.21.2011
The Owlboy demo is both available and good

A demo for Owlboy, the much talked-about 2D platformer from Norwegian indies D-Pad Studio, is now available for PC -- a good sign for a game beset my development trouble, despite winning a visual design award at the 2010...more




Platform games

10:30 AM on 10.22.2014
Joylancer still looks pretty great entering Early Access

Joylancer has a new trailer to celebrate its impending Early Access release, and it's still looking good. Some new things that have arrived in Joylancer include DX Mode, more abilities, more stages, boss fights, an...more



8:00 PM on 10.16.2014
Hah, remember Gex? It's back on GOG.com

Couple of things about Gex. First and foremost, the PC version of the original is now available on GOG.com. It's priced at $5.99 and should be quite the nostalgia trip for some of you. That's the main reason I'm writing this ...more



4:00 PM on 10.15.2014
FPS platformer Deadcore is the kind of game I want to play on Oculus Rift

Deadcore is a futuristic first-person shooter/platforming hybrid that got its start in a 7DFPS game jam in 2012 by five friends who met while studying videogame design in Angoulême, France. Extended work on the prototy...more



View all Platform games






Back to Top




All content is yours to recycle through our Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing requiring attribution. Our communities are obsessed with videoGames, movies, anime, and toys.

Living the dream since March 16, 2006

Advertising on destructoid is available: Please contact them to learn more