As more and more people worldwide pick up and enjoy Nintendo’s latest machine, the number of indie games appearing on the eShop increases by the day. As a result, it can be difficult to weed out the gems among the mess. In this new series, I’m hoping to shine a light on the best games from independent studios on the Nintendo Switch. This is Nintendo Switch Indiessentials.
Owlboy is an action-platformer from the minds at D-Pad Studio. If you haven’t heard of D-Pad, I wouldn’t worry; Owlboy is their first game, and it took the best part of 9 years to see release. Fortunately, the old adage is true: good things really do come to those who wait. Owlboy is an absolute joy from start to finish.
A Hoot and a Holler
Owlboy follows the adventure of Otus, an Owl/Human who is in the process of his Owl education. In Owlboy, Owls are seen as the guardians and protectors of the world. Despite his best efforts, Otus fails to meet the exceedingly high expectations of his superiors. However, an attack on his world by a group of pirates forces Otus into the fore. He, and a group of support characters, must band together to stop the devient Malstrom from collecting three powerful Owl relics, and subsequently destroying the world.
It’s a story told a thousand times before, and then some, but rarely has it been told in such a heartfelt manner. Owlboy is a simple good vs evil story on the surface. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll find a story of inner courage, acceptance, friendship, and sacrifice. On his journey, Otus is joined by a cavalcade of characters, all looking for roughly the same thing: friendship.
These characters are more than just exposition devices, however. While Otus can fly, he offers little else by the way of powers. The companion characters actually double as Otus’ powers. Through some Owl magic trickery, you can switch between your allies on a whim, all of which offer various weaponry and such. It’s a system that makes sense, both in the sense of the grander plot, as well realistically speaking. I love Metroid games, for example, but I’ve never understood how Samus can suddenly use missiles after reaching a computer. Having a character that owns a bazooka join you, however, makes sense.
Similarly to Golf Story, Owlboy is a game that has clear influences. While a Metroidvania at heart, Owlboy is actually closer to a game that *doesn’t even exist*. I’m sure I’m not the first to say it, but, if Owlboy were released in 1993, it would be Super Kid Icarus. I am convinced.
A Blast from the Past
Speaking of 1993, actually, Owlboy looks like it’s straight from the SNES. Actually, let me rephrase that: Owlboy looks like what you imagine a game from the SNES era looks like. You know how nostalgia-vision makes a game from your childhood look better in your mind? Owlboy is a Super Nintendo game that is made with Nostalgia-vision. Pixel art to perfection, that benefits from the advancements of modern day technology.
One of those benefits is the score, which it utterly superb. Jonathan Greer’s soundtrack sweeps across every inch of the game, and left goosebumps on my arms on a number of occasions. I believe it is actually available to purchase on its own, and I would definitely recommend doing that, if you’re interested in video game composition. It’s truly memorable, and I hope he’s given more opportunities to show his talents moving forward.
I try to shine a light on all aspects of a game with my reviews, both the positive and negative. The only real issue I can level at Owlboy, outside of the game crashing multiple times during my playthrough (I believe a patch is being released to counter this), is the lack of directional help. Despite how gorgeous the world is, some sections do blend together, and you can get lost when backtracking, and navigating the hub. Some sort of map would have been welcome, though it’s certainly not bad enough for your experiences to be ruined.
Owlboy is truly breathtaking on all fronts, and a testament to showing patience. Good things come to those who wait, and Owlboy was WELL worth the wait. D Pad should be very proud of their achievements here; time well spent.
Owlboy is available on the Nintendo Switch eShop for £18.99, and is also available for purchase on your favourite PC store for the game price. Should you prefer your games in a more physical state, Owlboy will be released on Nintendo Switch cartridge and PS4 disc for £24.99 on May 29th. If you follow this link, and order the physical copy through Amazon, you’ll actually be helping yetanothergamingblog. Every time one of those links is used, Amazon chuck me a couple of quid, which is used to help fund future content. It doesn’t increase of affect your purchase at all, just does me a favour.