Devolver Digital is one of those publishers to always monitor. This is a publishing company that has very often made me discover little pearls of gameplay and storytelling. Many of these are sometimes only possible in the world of small developers. With Olija, a title developed by Skeleton Crew Studio, we face another really interesting video game with a lot to say and little time to do it. Here is my Olija review on PC.
FOCUSED AND STRAIGHT
It often happens, especially recently, to find complex and large video games in our hands. As beautiful and well finished as an Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, for example, it requires a minimum of effort in knowing how to manage resources and time without getting lost in a decidedly enormous map. Without going into detail, Destiny 2 can also be pure chaos, easily becoming a genuine source of stress. It can therefore sometimes be useful to take a break with more focused and straight titles. Olija is among these.
DISCOVER A STRANGE WORLD
Caught by a storm at sea, Faraday and his crew are engulfed by the waters and scattered in the mysterious archipelago of Terraphage. Your protagonist will have to save his companions by surviving an inhospitable land. Take note that this is a place of strange and mystical events. You will soon discover that in order to return to your homeland, you will need a special harpoon to confront an indigenous race of creatures.
The story of Skeleton Crew Studio’s title has a very interesting development, especially from the moment Princess Olija enters the scene. The inspiration and themes certainly derive from adventure literature. Among them are certainly Heart of Darkness, but also the hopeless worlds of Lovecraft. This is all within an oriental mix, with a Japanese and pirate climate.
Olija’s events are told with a few dialogues and some “grumbles”. The animations for the most cinematic scenes are really very expressive. This is extremely necessary if we consider that from an artistic point of view we are dealing with a very minimal work. The story continues with decidedly interesting implications, ready to amaze with its secrets and narrative developments. This is a sign of a stylistic mix that has well grasped the point.
SPECIAL HIDDEN MAPS
From a purely gameplay point of view, Olija is very traditional and could easily be called a classic Metroidvania. With Faraday, you will therefore have to explore in large quantities in search of resources and secrets. The world map is small and you will discover unknown areas by finding special hidden maps. When you have a hidden map, just give it to an elderly gentleman who has taken the responsibility of transporting you by sea. Take note that he will take you to any destination you desire.
Once you reach the specific destination, you will be alone against the indigenous inhabitants. By jumping between one platform and another, the real exploration will begin. There are small hidden openings at the edge of the screen, or optional secondary routes. Olija is still quite linear. There is a good dose of freedom, but it is still limited. This is not like the interconnected maps in Metroid or Hollow Knight, but something more focused. This allowed Skeleton Crew Studio to build more narrative and studied sequences.
QUICK AND LETHAL BLOWS
In fact, there is no action in Olija that is not accompanied by cute and minimal animations. This is especially noticeable with the combat system. Initially, you will be completely free of objects in your pocket and your only weapons will be the fists. Take note that you can give a few simple hits or send enemies flying with a firm jump kick. However, you will soon come into possession of a simple sword.
By delivering a few hits with it, thanks to the attack button, Faraday will perform a simple combo. By pressing it repeatedly, it will perform a series of quick and lethal blows. If you use it in jumping, you can attack with a lunge from above. Every shot, whether it is thanks to the vibration or even just through the visual effects, the fights are a real pleasure thanks to the feedback received from Skeleton Crew Studio’s title.
THE LEGENDARY HARPOON
The true aim of the game, however, comes to getting the legendary harpoon. It is a rather slow weapon when used for normal attacks, but it contains its power in the special ability to cling to wooden objects, “alien” creatures, or enemies in general. You can launch this weapon in any direction and by pressing the attack button again it will catapult you towards the desired object.
This allows Faraday to both reach distant areas, amplifying the exploratory potential, but also making the fighting more dynamic. Suddenly you can then jump from one side of the screen to the other to dodge faster or reach the annoying enemies that attack you from a distance. The combat system therefore depends on the player’s skill.
Besides the harpoon and the sword, you will also find other secondary weapons along your journey. For example, there is the crossbow that can fire various types of bullets. All objects guarantee Olija a good depth of gameplay. Although the game is not overly complex, Skeleton Crew Studio made the combat pleasantly articulated and varied.
THE PIRATE WAYS
By killing the natives or neutralizing strange Lovecraftian creatures, you will begin to amass a prestigious fortune in money. All this will be useful for expanding the central hub. This is the place where you can return after completing the exploration of any distant island. You can expand it with shops to stock up on items and upgrades. Among them is a doctor’s kiosk to increase your life points.
Take note that you can also pay a sailor who will then embark on an adventure to get you more riches. However, the most interesting in Devolver Digital’s title is the seller of headgear. By providing them with the necessary items, you can buy hats that can unleash special abilities. There are lethal feathers that hit enemies, automatic heals, and much more. Beyond this, they are also great for giving Faraday an extra touch of style.
Do you want to try Devolver Digital and Skeleton Crew Studio’s Olija? What do you think of my Olija review on PC? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. Are you interested in more games? Check out our reviews for Sword of the Necromancer, Luciform, Project Starship X, The Pedestrian, Hitman 3, and Morbid: The Seven Acolytes.