Revealed throughout the Devolver Showcase, Skeleton Crew Studio’s Olija is about to launch for PC and Nintendo Switch later in 2020. A demo is offered now on Steam, supplying you with a slice of its 2D motion to attempt forward of its launch. Before its reveal, I had the possibility to dive into the sport with an unique demo for GameSpot, studying about it is crunchy fight, ambiguous and mysterious themes, and the cursed harpoon on the heart of all of it.
Olija is a 2D motion platformer with equal measures of fast-paced fight and small however intelligent puzzles. Core to each is your major weapon, a cursed harpoon which you can throw in any cardinal course with a button press and return to your fingers with one other. Your harpoon can lodge itself within the guts of enemies and sure factors of the atmosphere, letting you pull off a fast and satisfying sprint to its place.
It feels nice to chain collectively throwing and recalling the harpoon as your soar by the air, and the sport encourages you to get comfy with it. Early enemy encounters are restricted to just some foes at a time, however as you progress, they turn into extra advanced ballets the place you must stability positioning and aggression in equal measure. Groups of enemies will shortly overwhelm and kill you, however utilizing your harpoon to fling your self to a distant enemy–both supplying you with area and letting you kill them off effortlessly–feels extremely satisfying.
Complementing your major harpoon are a handful of secondary weapons that you simply’re free to cycle by as soon as unlocked. They vary from a lightning-fast rapier to a crowd-controlling crossbow, letting you swap from quick close-quarters fight to ranged choices with a bit more room between you and hazard. You may also equip completely different hats after you have crafted them so as to add distinctive talents to your repertoire, together with resistances to hazards like acid or including a flurry of damaging slashes to every of your dashes.
Olija’s fight makes you’re feeling each assault, with every touchdown with a weighty really feel and a slight pause on connection so as to add some emphasis. It’s easy to swap between your weapons as you zip throughout the display screen, making your aerial death-dealing look as trendy as it’s efficient. It took a while for the problem to necessitate a few of the extra spectacular routines I ultimately acquired comfy with, however as soon as Olija struck the suitable stability between the 2 it made it troublesome to not sit up for the subsequent beg fight area to flex my expertise once more.
Interspersed with fight are some small however good puzzles, a few of that are required to progress whereas others are elective. Many construct in your understanding of the harpoon, encouraging you to think about alternative ways to make use of the instrument throughout a number of screens. For instance, one door linked to a timer required me to go away the harpoon caught close to it earlier than venturing off to flip its swap, letting me sprint in the direction of to from one other display screen fully and sneak below the falling stone slab blocking my means.
Later, the harpoon gained the flexibility to conduct electrical energy too, tying in with puzzles the place you must navigate half-flooded levels whereas defending the weapon’s cost for a door swap discovered later within the degree. None of those puzzles pressured me to pause for too lengthy seeking an answer, however executing the steps nonetheless let me zip round every display screen with an satisfying sense of momentum.
Olija contains a construction that allows you to play some levels in several orders, however every one accommodates an merchandise required to unlock the subsequent massive portion of the map. Returning to the settlement I established close to the beginning of my preview, it was rewarding to see how every new enterprise helped it develop from a dreary and hopeless abode to a bustling hive of exercise, with retailers, jolly sailors, and males for rent. How this settlement will in the end fare with the monarch who guidelines over it, and what turns into of it when protagonist Lord Faraday leaves again to the impoverished nation he was making an attempt to avoid wasting, are questions I discovered myself asking when confronted with the unusual lore Olija presents, together with with thematic stylings of an inescapable purgatory and a secret ready to be unraveled at its core.
Those mysteries, complemented by the engrossing fight and puzzles, are what made me need to play extra of Olija. It’s a recreation that may be visually troublesome to choose aside from the friends it desires to hold alongside, however the tempo of its motion and the attract of its world differentiate it sufficient that it is troublesome to see it as simply one other a kind of 2D pixel platformers. That, and the harpoon is simply such a satisfying weapon to wield.