The Game Tutor Grades Owlboy

Normally when games go through extended development cycles it is usually a cause for concern. You only have to look at the Duke Nukem Forevers or the No Man Skys of this world to see usually they are not worth the wait. Owl Boy definitely does not fall into that trap.

Created by indie developer D-Pad Studio the game sees you control Otus an Owlboy who can fly around the landscape. While Otus does not attack much, he can carry other characters that change his abilities. It’s a Metroidvania with a twist and what really stands out is how the game has avoided all of the pitfalls that other delayed games seem to fall into and in 2016 9 years after development began Owlboy is one of the best examples of the retro-inspired platformers out there. It plays beautifully but one of the real highlights is the gripping story and gorgeous pixel art graphics.

Owlboy is set in the land of the sky; the islands of the world below have been separated by a catastrophic event that is unknown to the player at the start of the game. The player controls an Owlboy named Otus, who is a member of an owl–human hybrid race called the Owls. Otus’s village is attacked by a group of pirates which set in a motion a change of events to try and save the world. The characters in the game are so well drawn in fact this really is some of the most beautiful pixel art I have ever seen and it is so clear how much love and attention had been put into creating this charming cast of reluctant heroes… and I think that is part of it. None of the ‘heroes’ in Owl Boy really want to be there but they don’t really have a choice and this is made all the more heartbreaking that most of the other people in your tribe do not believe in you. The game in all took me about 10 hours to playthrough but by the end of it I was so wrapped up in these characters I never wanted to let them go.

Little things that impress are the facial expressions on the characters during cutscenes and dialogue moments. Truly splendid.

A bit of a hybrid game not technically a Metroidvania but with elements. In fact, the game I think I find it closest to is actually Legend of Zelda II on the NES in terms of how you navigate a sort of world hub with interconnecting Dungeon like areas. As far as Metroidvanias go there is not a massive amount of backtracking.

Owlboy's music is wonderful and it is rare that I would say this but go and buy the soundtrack as well when you buy the game. A beautiful mix of chiptune orchestral pieces that perfectly fit with the tone and feel of the game.

A friend of mine described Owlboy as “imagine if Nintendo rather than releasing the N64 in the late 90s released the SNES2 and Owl Boy was one of the best games made for that mythical systems.”… and I think that really sums up the game overall.

Owlboy is an amazing game that I would recommend to anyone and everyone. Sure, it isn’t perfect and occasionally the controls are a little wonky but OwlBoy is a game about heart and friendship that will have you gripped from start to finish and while a late entry really is one of the best indie games of the year if not in recent memory. 10 years well spent.