Olija stars Lord Faraday, chief of a struggling fishing village who will get shipwrecked throughout an expedition. He awakens alone in Terraphage, a group of islands corrupted by an historic evil and residential to a overseas civilization ruled by the mysterious Girl Olija. Who’s Olija, what is that this malevolent power, and the way does Faraday rescue his crew and return residence? Answering these tantalizing questions is a blast, as a result of Olija appears good and performs higher, making it one of many yr’s first nice surprises.
Static pictures of Olija (pronounced “ooo-lee-ah”) don’t do the presentation any favors. It has a easy, pixelated look, nevertheless it’s backed by clean animation that evokes classics like Prince of Persia and One other World. The sport additionally has fashion for days because of its dramatic cutscenes (anticipate frequent cuts to black), foreboding soundtrack, and shocking gore. The unfamiliar, subtitled language provides to that cinematic high quality, although my favourite moments are communicated nonverbally. One nice scene includes delivering a rose to a maiden with out her figuring out, resulting in a cute interplay that doesn’t want a single phrase to be uttered.
Beneath its simple-looking look, Olija is a satisfying motion recreation. Gamers can unleash multi-hit combos, launch enemies airborne, juggle them a bit, and ship them flying into partitions – and it feels good. A magic harpoon acts as your major weapon, and may impale enemies from afar, permitting you to then warp towards them. Teleporting within the face of airborne threats feels slick, as does recalling the harpoon to strike enemies on the return journey. You even have a group of subweapons, such because the quick and combo-focused rapier or the highly effective shotgun. Better of all, subweapons may be swapped on the fly, that means you’ll be able to mix assaults and modify methods.
Particular hats function your sole type of tools. You craft this stuff your self, and every hat bestows a novel perk, akin to firing dagger-like feathers whereas dodging, siphoning well being on kills (my favourite), or the power to spin the harpoon like a buzzsaw. These talents are largely gratifying and may positively assist, however they’re additionally not make-or-break assists. You’re certain to 1 hat per mission, however I not often felt as if particular headwear was required for any process. Whereas that enables flexibility, it additionally makes hats really feel considerably inconsequential. They do make Faraday look fairly snazzy, although.
Ranges function a number of paths and, considerably surprisingly, no dungeon maps. Although I didn’t get circled usually, there are bigger, tougher-to-track areas the place a map would ease exploration. I had a good time exploring Olija’s world. Platforming feels good, and the environmental puzzles are intelligent. For instance, appropriately navigating large mouths that warp (learn: spit) Faraday across the map. Distinctive segments, akin to a completely stealth-focused space and an exciting escape sequence, maintain exploration recent. Additionally, I by no means acquired bored with throwing the harpoon off-screen, latching onto one thing, then warping to discover a secret collectible or captive crewmate. Typically, you’re searching for keys to open a giant, end-of-level door, which often results in an entertaining boss struggle. Whereas some battles function large-scale fights in opposition to grotesque monstrosities, one-on-one duels with human foes change issues up with a extra intimate, strategic focus that requires studying conduct as a substitute of simply attacking full power.
Between islands you construct up Oaktide, a derelict port that serves as your private home base. Rescued crewmates return right here, and the extra you discover, the livelier and extra jubilant the port turns into, which in itself is a reward. Gamers can unlock a potion store to completely improve the well being bar, dine at a soup kitchen to revive vitality, and pay a sea captain to seek for extra treasures. I’m a fan of this form of base-building function, and whereas Olija’s model is much from the deepest instance of it, it’s nonetheless gratifying. The one draw back is that when you absolutely improve your well being and get each hat (which isn’t exhausting to do) the cash and trinkets you proceed to gather successfully change into ineffective.
Olija isn’t an extended recreation; it took me somewhat over 4 hours to complete even after gathering most of its collectibles. But it surely packs quite a lot of good things in that timeframe and by no means wears out its welcome. With tight gameplay, enjoyable exploration, and an alluring ambiance, Faraday’s disastrous voyage turns right into a rewarding expedition.