Like many eagerly awaiting the release of Owlboy, Mash Those Buttons grabbed a copy of the demo just after release yesterday evening and have been playing this gem as much as possible ever since. And, thanks to the great guys over at D-Pad Studios, you can grab yourself a copy of the demo right here as well.
Needless to say, the game is truly impressive. From the moment the title screen appears, along with a majestically orchestrated title song, you’re hooked. The absolutely gorgeous spritework is some of the best I’ve seen in a decade. Truly professional quality spritework mixed with fantastically used modern camera effects help keep the player immersed in the experience and really brings the world to life. The animations are wonderfully done and add so much to the experience.
Owlboy, or Otus, even changes up his stationary animation determined by the situation he’s in. For instance, when he’s being hunted by the evil gnomes and sneaking around in the dark, the animation is of him pulling his cloak close to himself as he looks around tensely. These little touches abound throughout the game and add so much tangibility to the world. For anyone looking for a classically styled adventure game, they need look no further than Owlboy.
The game demo starts you out just after sky pirates have attacked the village of Vellie. Otus’s and his Gunner friend Geddy set out for the ancient Owl Temple in hopes of finding a powerful wind machine that is said to be able to help prevent another pirate attack. The demo drops the player right into the action, but they’ll feel like they’ve known the game for a long time in no time at all.
After only a few minutes of gameplay, the controls will seem like second-nature to the player. They could not be more perfectly laid out for the actions they are associated with. It just goes to show how much planning and time went into their construction over at D-Pad Studio. “Controlling Otus has always been an issue we’ve wanted to address. The flying mechanic in Owlboy is the most important aspect of the game, and finding the right controls is absolutely vital!” says Joremi Madsen
The musical score in Owlboy could not be more professional in its style and mastery of tone if it tried. From the beautifully crafted title track to the quiet – and almost ominous – Owl Temple track, the game is filled with life. Each enemy and interactive element in the game has its own unique sound or audio element filling the world with a sense of realism and tangibility not often found in two dimensional gaming.
While exploring the overworld, Otus will come across some basic enemies to help ease the player into the feel of combat in Owlboy to avoid bombarding them with too much at once later on. The player will also be introduced to the game’s “ring system.” As the player explores, they will find floating rings through out the worlds that they must pass through in order to collect. Pick up enough of them, and the player can exchange their rings for new upgrades, items, and abilities at the shop.
Just past the shop, Otus and Geddy find the entrance to the Owl Temple and decide to boldly enter the ancient stone labyrinth. Once inside, the player is greeted with a classic, almost Zelda-like, intro sequence title-screening the dungeon and giving the player a brief glimpse of the incredibly detail background art. Inside the temple, the player is confronted by a wide array of enemies, each with their own movement and combat styles to keep things fresh.
Classic style puzzles abound throughout Owlboy and add so much to the game. The exploration and combat are fantastic, but the imaginative puzzles will make the player feel like they’re back in the days of classic SNES gaming. With all of the little nooks and crannies inside the temple the player will undoubtedly find themselves doing a lot of exploration; and this is where the visuals truly shine in Owlboy.
It’s all in the details, and in some cases the “quirky” details, like their choice of save systems. To save in Owlboy, the player will need to find a small fish with a top-hat who will politely ask the player if they can memorize their their progress for the day; to which the player may respond with a happy face, a sad face, or a mad face, to receive the appropriate response from the fish with a “stiff upper lip” as they say.
Throughout the temple, the player will be confronted by multiple bosses ranging from giant flying eye monsters, to sky pirates, to massive steam powered salamander monsters. All of which, are wonderfully animated, and, in the case of the sky pirates, hilariously added into the story’s dialogue; fighting over having crashed into the Owl Temple.
While the indie community itself is filled with many titles to choose from, Owlboy stands out from the rest of the pack; way out. The Owlboy demo is truly a shining example of the professional quality and design that can come from the indie community through hard work and perseverance. We will be looking forward to see what D-Pad Studios does with this incredible gem in the future. Here’s looking forward to the full release soon.