It’s been a long journey, but after nearly a decade Owlboy is finally here! Usually such a long development cycle results in tragedy, but D-Pad Studio seems to know how to play the long con. Amazing art, fun gameplay, and a memorable cast await you in this 2D platforming adventure game.
You play as Otus, a mute owlboy who never seems to do anything right. If he wasn’t the only option left to save the day, Otus is the kind of kid who would typically be told to sit down and be quiet during a crisis. Because of this, it’s a welcome change to heroes in general. While underdog stories aren’t new, Otus takes things to a whole other level, earning no respect for a lot of the game.
“Instead of having a simple upward curve in difficulty and ability, you’re given this janky line of ups and downs that keeps everything fresh.”
Owlboy is a little odd mechanically. You have your base form and function as Otus, able to fly, spin and dash your way to victory. However, if you pick up one of Otus’ buddies, you can then control their ability while flying around. Then, when the developers feel like it, Otus will go back to just being himself. It’s a great way to limit the player at times, something I’m becoming a huge fan of lately. Instead of having a simple upward curve in difficulty and ability, you’re given this janky line of ups and downs that keeps everything fresh.
The campaign itself should take you roughly ten hours to finish your first time through. There are a decent amount of coins and secrets to check for that will add time for any completionist, but still plenty to do without grabbing everything. The story is fun and creative, with decent writing throughout the adventure.
Art and animations take an awful long time when working with pixels. I wish the artists at D-Pad could receive some sort of standing ovation, because Owlboy is simply marvelous in terms of presentation. Seriously, this is some of the best pixel art I’ve seen over my many years of gaming, and I’m sure it took a lot of effort. Considering everything still holds together mechanically, my guess is that the long project cycle was caused mostly by the visual aspect.
Not only is everything presented in stunning detail, but so much is animated that the whole world comes to life. Trees wave in the wind, lava bubbles and froths, rings hover around slightly mid-air, even blades of grass have motion to them. When coupled with all the layers of background and foreground, you almost forget that everything is in 2D.
The backing track is nice and adds a decent sense of ambiance or urgency depending on the situation. It didn’t exactly stand out as different or revolutionary, but it hits all the right notes when you’re playing. The songs are beautiful and fit the world, but they don’t steal the show.
“There’s very little to actively dislike about Owlboy.”
There’s very little to actively dislike about Owlboy. The controls and movement feel a touch sluggish when you first get to fly with Otus, but it becomes comfortable soon enough. After so many years, voice-acting would have been a really nice touch but it’s understandable that it’s not present. Some people might not be fans of the way mechanics are given to and taken away from Otus, but that was one of my favorite parts.
Owlboy is incredibly close to being perfect. For around thirty dollars, you get a solid campaign that delivers fun from start to finish. The writing is great for almost any age range, and gameplay is simple in a great way. It’s not that Owlboy is easy, but just about anyone can pick this game up and play it.
It took way too long to make, but this is one of the few examples where the end product didn’t absolutely deteriorate from being in development hell. D-Pad Studio should be incredibly proud of what they’ve accomplished in all aspects. Owlboy is sure to be a classic, and you’re doing yourself a disservice by not at least looking into it.
***A PC code was provided by the publisher***
- Beautiful artwork
- Relatable hero
- Fun mechanics
- Took 10 years to make