I’m going to cut right to the chase & say that I love Owlboy. D-Pad Studio’s magnum opus is a modern masterpiece as far as I’m concerned & I wholeheartedly give it my strongest recommendation. In all seriousness, Owlboy is indeed in the running for one of my favorite games. That might seem like a hasty claim, especially considering I’ve only now played it for the first time ever, but there have been very few titles that have left as lasting of an impression on me as this did & I want to spread the word of its brilliance as far & wide as I can.
In order to do that without giving too much away, I’ve decided to deviate from my normal in-depth format & just talk about the basics. I want to encourage as many of you as possible to check this out & go into it with a clean slate, so here’s a small sample of what Owlboy has to offer. Conceived as a tribute to Kid Icarus & the other Nintendo classics, Owlboy began production all the way back in 2007 & went through quite a number of changes over the years before finally being released in November of 2016.
As should become immediately apparent from the title screen, D-Pad Studio’s breakout hit replicates the 16-bit era aesthetic but enhances upon it to create a truly magical piece of art. We’re quickly introduced to the world of Vellie & its inhabitants as we assume the role of Otus, the mute protagonist. Otus is mired in a stressful situation over his uncertainty of purpose, & this crisis of confidence is exacerbated even further by Asio, the super strict mentor, but he finds solace & a helpful hand in the form of his friend Geddy.
Without spoiling significant story arcs, the duo ends up investigating some local shenanigans, which ultimately escalates into a much bigger conflict with a gang of pirate robots, and the journey they embark on involves a JRPG-esque rollercoaster ride of emotions with a masterfully crafted cast of characters you’re guaranteed to fall in love with.
The engaging narrative is complemented by the tight & top-notch gameplay, which blends platforming, puzzle solving & stealth elements into a satisfying & often challenging mix. The controls & mechanics are smooth as silk on the Switch and I had a blast experimenting with the proper attack strategies to eliminate any & all foes that stood in my path. I’ve seen people complain online about this boss being too hard or that event being flawed, but I honestly had very few issues during my capture session.
There were definitely sections that required a little bit of trial & error and the optional cannon challenge was a huge pain in the ass, but none of that stopped me from finishing in around twelve hours without glancing once at a guide & I remained determined in my resolve throughout that Owlboy is about as perfect as a game gets.
The ending admittedly subverted my expectations & left me in a state of stunned silence as I mentally processed what I had experienced, but my adoration for D-Pad Studio’s passion project never faltered. Of course, I must note that the price tag is relatively steep, with the download & physical copies being sold for $25 & $30, respectively. Whether the amount of content justifies that cost is up to the individual consumer, but it was absolutely worth every penny for me and anyone who enjoys non-linear exploratory adventures a la Metroid should give it a try.