Take to the Skies with Owlboy


Owlboy took ten years to bring to platform gamers, but when it arrived, it flew. But what made a tale about seemingly one of the quietest and least action-driven animals in the world such a success. I took a trip down memory lane to fly high and rotate my head 360° while doing so.

OwlboyIf you haven’t played Owlboy, you’re missing out on a superb action-packed single-player adventure. The excitement centres around the thrills and spills a mute boy named Otus experiences as an owl-human hybrid. His mission is to save his town from a band of sky pirates. Before you can say ‘pieces of 8-bit’, Owlboy must take to the skies to save everyone from the ruthless cutthroats.

The detail and gameplay elements are two primary reasons I love playing Owlboy. A heady mix of side-scroller and rising platform screens, Owlboy pits you against some impressive enemies and gives the player plenty of help in the form of some friends from the animal kingdom. Although the graphics are’ 16-bit’ in their design, I feel – along with many others – that it only adds to the retro-style charm of the game.

A talented team put Owlboy together. Simon Stafsnes Andersen designed the game, with Adrian Bauer responsible for the stunning artwork. Although it’s billed as a platformer, I honestly find the game more of an open-world challenge. It reminded me of the 1980’s Mastertronic classic The Curse of Sherwood, released on ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC. That can never be a bad thing.

Whilst relying on pixel art for retro reasons, the mixture of flight and platform gameplay is Owlboy’s most vital feature. There are so many hidden treasures it’s impossible to get bored playing Owlboy, and from dungeons to ancient ruins, the locations are second to none.

I found Owlboy slightly less than at the top of its field where the end boss battles; while they give you a challenge and progress the narrative, I didn’t feel like they had the exquisite style of a game like Cuphead, for example. The puzzles throughout the game more than makeup for this slight downer. The dialogue between characters only adds to the feeling that 1980s nostalgia has never been captured better before.

Owlboy was always going to be either a huge success or a time-consuming failure. Owlboy was developed from an original idea in 2007 and released almost ten years later. Successfully released on Microsoft Windows, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it was finally released on Nintendo Switch – perhaps it’s natural home – in February. It hit profit within 24 hours.

For now, Owlboy is a critical and commercial success, at least initially, selling well into six figures. Time will tell us whether Owlboy achieves the same marketable triumph on the higher-end consoles, but I wouldn’t put it past gamers on any console falling in love with the floaty adventures of a plucky mix of owl and boy.

Reviewers and gamers alike loved Owlboy, with Destructoid giving the game 10/10. Game Informer scored only one point, with industry magazine IGN awarding the platformer 9.3/10. Fans agree on Metacritic, with a score of 89%, one of the highest given for any platformer in the last 20 years. Owlboy was rated 9/10 on Steam, where it costs £18.99

If you want to watch the trailer, take a look right here.

I would highly recommend playing this satisfying and exciting open-world platformer. I loved the story and characters in equal measure and will return to the skies many times in the future.

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