Olija - Review, the adventure of the castaway Faraday

Olija - Review, the adventure of the castaway Faraday

Arrived a few days ago on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC, Olija is a 2D action-platformer that tells the story of Lord Faraday, a navigator who left in search of resources and the victim, together with his companions, of a nefarious shipwreck. The title, developed by Skeleton Crew Studio and published by Devolver Digital, puts us in the shoes of this silent protagonist, making us live an adventure he did not foresee in search of other castaways and a way to return home. In all this, an unknown enemy and the figure of Olija, the woman who gives the game its name and whose fate will intertwine with that of Faraday. Let's analyze the work in more detail.

Storytelling and atmosphere

The two-dimensional universe in which we control Faraday, although it presents a not too detailed pixel art, is really rich in atmosphere. The game focuses heavily on this aspect by trying to immerse the user in the settings explored by the protagonist. The latter will be accompanied on his journey by a navigator who, from the point of view of pure gameplay, is the means by which we can move from one place to another; but in general it is not only this. For almost every island we are going to visit, following uploads that are perhaps a little too slow, the man will talk to us and describe some elements that are part of it, including the presence of possible dangers. Dialogues play an important role in other situations as well, however sometimes space is left for silence, to a narrative entirely linked to the settings, to the leaves carried away by the wind and to the sounds that surround us.

Olija - Review, the adventure of the castaway Faraday

In this sense, the excellent attention to detail by Skeleton Crew Studio should be emphasized. Not just Faraday, but even non-player characters enjoy delightful animations even for pure side action, like a simple cough. A care that obviously goes hand in hand with the narrative intentions and the “cinematic” setting of the work, as in this way the quality of the immersion increases.

This also applies to the settings themselves and the backdrops. We can see pebbles that fall to the ground due to our step, creatures that occasionally observe us secretly, as well as the wind and the leaves mentioned above. The sound sector then contributes to amplify the sense of immersion, both with the soundtrack and through the sound design. Interesting, for example, is the presence of small music boxes scattered around the play areas. They represent one of the collectibles to be found during the adventure, and to do so it will be useful to listen to their sound, more and more intense as we get closer to them. These and other elements create a decidedly intriguing atmosphere while controlling the brave Lord Faraday who, in his explorations, is however forced to face many obstacles.

Lord Faraday's trusty harpoon

The main objective of the game is to recover three blue keys, the only way to be able to return home. However, various enemies will hinder the protagonist who, to continue his intentions, he will have to rely particularly on a special harpoon. This weapon is essential in both combat and exploration and represents the focal point of the gameplay. The main characteristic of the harpoon lies in the possibility of being thrown away and subsequently, if it binds to an enemy, allowing Faraday to immediately reach the point where it is. The level design is made specifically to exploit the ability of this weapon. In fact, in the places there are small immobile creatures to which the harpoon can bind itself to transport the protagonist to an otherwise unreachable place.

It can obviously skewer even the most offensive enemies, blending very well with a frenetic and fun combat system. During the fighting Faraday can also use some secondary weapons, suitable for both a close and a ranged fight. Thanks to this equipment, the harpoon and special hats that give additional powers, the fights are satisfying, especially against the most fearsome opponents.

Olija - Review, the adventure of the castaway Faraday

Although the structure of the levels is always well done and present interesting environmental puzzles, what Olija lacks is that extra bit of originality that would have allowed him to have a greater variety of situations. The game mechanics are based too much on the potential of the harpoon and, continuing the adventure, you begin to feel a bit of repetition. Although a further interesting mechanic is introduced later in the title, it is still used very little compared to its possibilities. The result is an experience that, although very enjoyable for its entire duration, leaves a slight sense of bitterness in the mouth. This is due to a gameplay that is as fun as it is "static", which unfortunately fails to amaze and surprise the player through progressive news. Olija is therefore an indie certainly interesting and to keep an eye on, especially for its atmosphere and the visible care that the developers have responded in their creation. With all its merits and its interesting main mechanics, if it had dared more in the development of the gameplay it could have become a pearl not to be missed.

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