Owlboy is easily one of the most beautiful games I’ve played in the past few years. I received this game as a birthday gift earlier this year and, after six hours of playtime, was pleasantly surprised with just about every aspect of the game.
The art. Owlboy features some of the best pixel graphics that can be found on the Steam store. There were several moments while playing where I just admired the art, several moments where I let out an audible “wow…”. The sprites, the backgrounds, just about everything graphics-wise was top-notch. The art really speaks for itself and I would consider it to be the major selling point of this game for me.
The soundtrack both in and out of the game. I’m a huge soundtrack nerd. I’ve amassed a very large soundtrack collection over the years and generally look forward to listening to a game’s soundtrack for years to come after playing through it. Owlboy was very satisfying in that regard, having a soundtrack that melds so well with the game’s world, the graphics, and the general atmosphere, yet also standing on its own for general listening. Jonathan Geer’s compositions for this game are just that good. “Mesos” was my favorite song on the soundtrack.
The characters and what they bring to the table. Owlboy has a lot of interesting characters throughout, some of which end up becoming allies, allowing use of their abilities. All of the abilities granted by these allies add extra layers to the gameplay, allowing you to get to a previously unreachable area or perhaps dealing with enemies in a different way, keeping the gameplay from getting stale. There was one (which I will not mention for spoilers sake) that I really enjoyed using towards the end of the game. Otus (the main character) himself is quite the character as well. Many see him as a useless owl, not providing anything for the village, yet he ends up on this grand adventure. He works to find himself a place in this world and it was quite satisfying to be on that journey with him.
Good pacing. The game never has dull moments. Once you’re on that adventure, you’re “on that adventure”. The game doesn’t slow down, doesn’t hit any snags along the way. The difficulty is relatively the same throughout. It wasn’t too difficult a game, but there were a couple parts that I died a couple times trying to complete, but nothing too major to slow down the game. It was quite refreshing to play through without feeling any certain part bringing down the rest.
Fluid controller use. This is the kind of game that you’d want to use a controller for. I barely used the keyboard controls and instead used an Xbox 360 controller. It made the experience so much better. The game is optimized well for use with said controller and I didn’t have any problems.
Lack of exploration. When given a game like Owlboy with beautiful graphics, music, and all that, I really would like the opportunity to explore more of the game’s world. The game was rather linear in this regard, with usually just one path that needs to be taken in order to further progress. Outside of the main village, there really isn’t much to be explored, aside from maybe the hidden chest or two. I feel the game would have been so much better with more, wide-open areas to explore. Maybe even expanding on existing areas with new buildings and people to talk to, giving more life to the game.
The ending content. This is more derived from the last point, but I feel that the game was cut short towards the end. While I found the ending to the story to be satisfactory, it felt as if there could have been a lot more built around that point of the game. I was actually surprised when I beat the game, it was rather abrupt. The lack of content towards the end of the game was quite disappointing and it really just felt like the developers were rushing to get things finished at that point in development. It doesn’t help that part of the last area was an info-dump for the rest of the story. That aspect could have been told through additional areas or characters, rather than just reading out of a book.
Overall though, I have to give major props to Owlboy for its graphics and music. Those two aspects are easily some of the best to come out on Steam in years. Solid gameplay, a great cast of characters, and good pacing throughout are just some of Owlboy’s strong areas. Although the game is lacking in exploration, and the ending could really have been expanded a bit, I can wholeheartedly give this game my recommendation.
You can buy Owlboy here on Steam.