January is nearly over, and as traditional, the large releases slowed down after the busy vacation season. Hitman 3 was wonderful, however different anticipated video games like The Medium and Cyber Shadow did not completely ship. However typically a recreation can come out of nowhere and impress you, and that is why I am enthusiastic about Olija by Skeleton Crew Studios. It simply launched this week, and I’ve had a good time with it to date; it blends fast-paced fight, an atmospheric and alluring world, and fascinating settlement-building to create one of many 12 months’s first large surprises. This is why you must test it out.
Story And Presentation
I haven’t completed Olija, so I can’t converse to the entire story’s total high quality. Nonetheless, I’m deeply intrigued. The sport opens with protagonist Lord Faraday getting shipwrecked among the many islands of Terraphage whereas on a mission to carry treasure and assets again to his struggling village. His crew will get scattered to varied isles, so it turns into one thing of a rescue mission as he explores creepy dungeons in the hunt for them. Earlier than lengthy he encounters creepy, shape-shifting monsters and different hostile foes, in addition to the mysterious Woman Olija. I’m unsure what to make of Olija herself but, however I’m curious to see what her agenda is as Faraday tries to recuperate his crew and get the heck out of Terraphage.
Should you watch Olija’s animated launch trailer, it’s straightforward to really feel slighted by its in-game presentation. Positive, it’s not a classy animated epic, however the pixel artwork is easily animated in a approach that looks like a contemporary tackle the unique Prince of Persia. Cutscenes benefit from this with dramatic digicam angles and copious abrupt cuts to black. In brief, Olija has fashion. There’s additionally loads of disturbing moments, often involving the brutal method Terraphage’s monstrosites homicide or rework their victims. The ominous soundtrack creates a relentless sense of eerie unease, which is suitable given you’re going through weird supernatural forces.
At a look you won’t guess Olija’s fight can be as enjoyable as it’s, but it surely’s a classy deal with. The core of the expertise is a magic harpoon used to impale enemies and objects, which you’ll be able to then use as an anchor to teleport in direction of them. It feels nice, and is supremely helpful each as a platforming software and for closing the hole towards ranged based mostly foes. Plus, recalling the harpoon hits anybody caught in its path, much like recalling Kratos’ axe in 2018’s God of Battle, creating further technique in organising enemies.
Quite a lot of sub weapons are enjoyable in their very own proper. Proper now I’ve a rapier that enhances the heavier harpoon with speedy melee strikes. A crossbow offers speedy fireplace bolts and a shotgun-esque musket fires highly effective spreading photographs. Sub-weapons might be swapped on the fly, making it a cinch to alter fight types within the warmth of battle.
All of this results in fight that’s surprisingly fluid and fast-paced with an emphasis on combos. It nearly looks like a closely pixelated Satan Might Cry at factors, particularly since you may launch enemies and juggle them in mid-air. You may also knock enemies into partitions or pits. Particular hats lend supplementary talents similar to permitting gamers to spin the harpoon like a propeller or firing feather daggers whereas performing dodge rolls. Fight feels nice and might be Olija’s strongest side.
Olija isn’t fairly a Metroidvania, however the dungeons do characteristic a handful of paths that usually require puzzle-solving and lightweight backtracking. There aren’t any stage maps (not less than none that I’ve discovered but), and that may annoy some gamers. Nonetheless, whereas ranges have a number of paths, they’re nonetheless sufficiently small the place I might fairly simply bear in mind the place I’d gone. Teleporting round with the harpoon is enjoyable, as is utilizing it to search out secret areas hiding collectible bottled ships. There’s additionally some neat selection, similar to one space that requires full stealth to get via. Up to now, I haven’t seen some other space that referred to as for that, so it’s cool to see one-off mechanics like this. Traps and varied obstacles are enjoyable to beat, and there’s even a few cool setpiece moments I received’t spoil.
Settlement-building feels all the fad abruptly, and Olija hops on the development with its personal take. Between missions gamers return to Oaktide, a port that’s initially in horrible disrepair. As gamers find and rescue their displaced crewmates, Oaktide grows right into a bustling port. Finally gamers receive a potion seeker who can improve most well being and order a ship to seek for treasure, which you’ll gather upon your subsequent go to. Given the sport’s total darkish tone, it feels good to see some hope by bringing crewmate after crewmate again to Oaktide. I’m a sucker for build up a house base in video games, and whereas Olija’s isn’t the deepest instance of it, it’s nonetheless engrossing.
Up to now Olija’s my favourite recreation of 2021, and I can’t wait to dive again in and see how the thriller unfolds. If you wish to give a shot, it’s obtainable on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Swap, and PC for $14.99. Watch us play among the recreation’s early hours on this episode of New Gameplay Today.