In Olija from Devolver Digital and Skeleton Crew Studios you’ll have to help a man named Faraday return home after a shipwreck. Check out our Olija review!
Olija is a game about Faraday’s quest, a man shipwrecked then trapped in the mysterious country of Terraphage. Armed with a legendary harpoon, he and other castaways try to leave this hostile country to return to their homelands.
Olija from Devolver Digital and Skeleton Crew Studios is a 2D adventure about Faraday’s journey. He’s actually Lord Faraday, but things have, unfortunately, not been as good as they could have been. His people are starving, and they’re catching fewer and fewer fish as days go by. Because of this, he decides to set out on a trip to try and find the riches all so desperately need. While navigating, a storm hits, and his boat is destroyed. He then wakes up, stranded on an unknown island. He’ll soon find a map that will lead him to a nearby island, where he might be able to find the rest of his missing crew.
You’ll be exploring each of the surrounding islands in a 2D action platformer, with each location presenting branching paths that, in classic Metroidvania fashion, will keep you from progressing through new paths until you’ve found the right item to get the job done. You could, for example, find a wooden cage hanging from a rope and until you find something sharp to cut down that rope. Do this, and the cage will come down crashing unto the ground, breaking into pieces.
The gameplay is pretty simple: you walk with the left analog stick or the D-Pad and jump and attack with the face buttons. You can pick up objects and interact with doors by pressing up on the left analog stick or the D-Pad. At first, you’ll fight with melee attacks, with nothing but your bare-hands to deal with the creatures you’ll encounter early in your journey. But then, you’ll obtain your first weapon – a rapier – which has the secondary function of cutting ropes that will help you remove some obstacles that would otherwise keep you from reaching new areas in the islands you’ll visit.
The enemies are varied, and all look like creepy creatures that would appear in your nightmares. The combat at first felt basic, even with the first weapon unlocked, but as I progressed to the next island, things started to feel more varied, with combat that was more complicated without feeling overwhelming. The level design also started to change, thanks to the magical harpoon I gained access to. This particular weapon will be key since it allows you to attack enemies from a distance… but also to teleport towards them! This will also be used for platforming purposes since there are enemies stuck to walls and ceilings that will regenerate after being destroyed. By using these, you can quickly move around each room, gaining the upper hand on your opponents by moving out of harm’s way as you take a short breather.
The game menu is accessible by pressing the Options button, but I thought that the menu was strange. It shows the inventory and player statistics, which is standard. But, unlike most releases, that information is static, and nothing can be selected from this menu. In fact, you can only move the cursor between two options: return to the game to carry on with your adventure, or momentarily end your run by quitting to the main menu.
As for the presentation, this game reminded me of the art style of games from a few decades ago, stylized and boosted with the power of the 21st-century consoles. The environments, enemies, and characters are blocky and pixelated – in a good way – with cutscenes that are a bit more detailed, animated in a way that reminded me of the classic Flashback, which was released in the early 1990s. The art style is definitively a “love it or hate it” type of scenario, so your appreciation for it may vary. I also noticed that, for some reason, the loading times were also higher than expected, with a 10-15 second loading sequence whenever I went from one island to another.
Olija is a game that features a solid adventure with an interesting art style, evolving gameplay mechanics, and a good challenge that won’t feel overwhelming. The visuals might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it definitely makes it stand out on PlayStation 4. Olija is out on PlayStation 4 with a $14.99 price.
This Olija review is based on a PlayStation 4 code provided by Devolver Digital.