Take flight in Owlboy, a retro-inspired adventure packed with everything we love about SNES-era games: stunning pixel art, exhilarating music, and a top-notch story. This indie gem, ten years in the making, stars unconventional hero Otus, an owl who’s far more weak and frail than your average video game protagonist. He can fly, jump, spin, and roll, but that’s about it. And on top of his already-limited abilities, Otus can’t speak, so he’s utterly defenseless when his fellow owls berate him as a “scaredy-cat” and question whether he’s even a real owl.
But Otus has one good pal on his side: Geddy, a friendly fellow who knows a lot about guns. And when Otus carries Geddy with his talons, the pair become an unstoppable team, with Otus flying in any direction and Geddy shooting at various targets, including enemies, rocks, and wood. And as Owlboy’s story unfolds, Otus and Geddy meet new friends, who can also be carried by Otus while using whatever ability they’re gifted with. When Otus carries a friend, Owlboy plays like a twin-stick shooter, with one hand controlling Otus’s movements and the other controlling his friend’s ability and/or weapon. This mechanic makes Owlboy super fresh and unique: instead of focusing on each character’s strengths, this title highlights their weakness alongside their strengths, and the ways in which weaknesses fall away and strengths are amplified through synergistic teamwork. And to make things easier, Owlboy features a teleportation mechanic that lets you call a friend to your side to help at any time!
Owlboy is a 2D platformer, but platforming is not the focal point, since you’ll mainly be flying and gliding through this game’s gorgeous 16-bit open world. You’ll explore cities perched among the clouds and vast underground dungeons riddled with puzzles and enemies. Metroidvania-style exploration is a huge part of the experience, and it’s also one of the best parts of the experience, especially since it’s a perfect chance to feast your eyes and ears upon this game’s gorgeous graphics and sound.
Owlboy’s gorgeous pixel art will certainly catch your eye; each inch of its world is intricately detailed and truly breathtaking. The character sprites are equally impressive, and the perfectly scripted story sequences really bring them to life. The soundtrack by Jonathan Geer is equally stunning and pairs perfectly with the hi-bit art style, so whether you’re lamenting a loss, battling a foe, or celebrating a victory, you’ll hear the perfect music to put you in the right mindset. We’ll note that there’s no voice acting, but honestly, it’s not needed—the graphics, sound, and script is so spot-on that a voiceover would only detract from this title.
Owlboy is impossible to forget once you’ve played it, and it’s polished to the point of near perfection. Playing Owlboy feels like playing an awesome game from the golden era of 16-bit gaming: its graphics and sound couldn’t be more perfect, and its moving story will touch your heart. (Sorry we didn’t get into the story here, but it’s a good one, and we really don’t want to spoil anything in this review!) The price point may be a bit higher than most indie titles, but for the quality, we think Owlboy is well worth the price, especially since you get at least 10 hours of gameplay. So if you’re looking for a retro-inspired and story-driven adventure, look no further than Owlboy on Switch!
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – D-Pad Studio
Developer – D-Pad Studio
Price – $24.99
Genre – Platformer, Adventure, Action
Size – 232 MB
Nick and Sarah are the ultimate gaming couple. Nick is a Super Mario Maker 2 enthusiast, but working with Nintendeal has fostered a love for tough-as-nails indies such as Enter the Gungeon, Celeste, and Cuphead. Sarah prefers sim games like Animal Crossing, Don’t Starve, and Stardew Valley, but she challenges herself by grinding Slay the Spire from time to time.