Olija: Retro charm meets avoidable mistakes - our test

Olija: Retro charm meets avoidable mistakes - our test


Jump & Run | Almost 40 years ago, video games were not yet multimillion-dollar productions with multimillion-dollar marketing, when game consoles were clad in wood and computers looked like bread boxes, when virtual adventures on floppy disks with a few kilobytes of memory Found space, which were exchanged in the schoolyard. These adventures were rarely developed by large studios, but often by passionate nerds in their basements and garages. Olija, the first major project of the Skeleton Crew Studios from Kyoto, takes you back to this early stage of the medium.

Table of contents

1 Free from the sins of the past 2 Few pixels, lots of charm 3 Ein Style with light and shadow A short, down-to-earth 2D adventure that is deliberately spartan to remind of genre representatives like Prince of Persia (1989) and Another World, and which was essentially created by a single developer.

Recommended editorial content Here you will find external content from [PLATTFORM]. To protect your personal data, external integrations are only displayed if you confirm this by clicking on "Load all external content": Load all external content I consent to external content being displayed to me. This means that personal data is transmitted to third-party platforms. Read more about our privacy policy . External content More on this in our data protection declaration. The story begins in the cabin of the young Baron Faraday, who, with his needy population on board, sets out on a sea voyage into unknown waters in search of new living space. What must come will come: Faraday and his daring crew get caught in a storm that drowns the ship with man and mouse. The outlines of a huge whale emerge in the floods before you sink into a sea of ​​rubble. A little later you wake up on a strange island that is populated not only by bloodthirsty locals, but also by black slime creatures. The mission: to find your team again and escape from this hell!

Free from the sins of the past

You are gradually rebuilding the barren village of Oak Flood by collecting resources and rescuing crew members . Source: PC Games The spartan presentation of the game catches the eye from the first second of the game: Even for a work in 2D retro style, Olija is very pixelated. You can count the squares that make up the faces of the figures on one hand, the same applies to clothing and weapons. Your surroundings are full of grainy lines that no smoothing of the edges in the world could straighten out again. For gamers who only got on board after the eighties, the style definitely takes getting used to! Such a run-down look was due to the lack of computing power, nowadays a game like Olija can refine the edgy style with all kinds of "modern" extras: Although it is hardly recognizable which hairstyle your hero is wearing, the pixel hairstyle is blowing elegantly in the wind . Backgrounds are roughly drawn, but with shading, billowing fog and clouds far from the monochrome surfaces of a Prince of Persia. Animations are simple but fluid, the levels scroll cleanly and you are spared from the gruesome, clumsy controls that make many classics from the epoch inedible these days.

Your main opponents, the local savages, are mostly quickly defeated Cannon fodder. Source: PC Games You steer Faraday precisely and directly through all kinds of two-dimensional forests, crypts and temples, complete simple jump passages and fight a manageable range of opponents with a manageable arsenal of weapons. When building levels, Olija does not use the random number generator that is ubiquitous in the indie sector and also not the metroidvania principle, but sends you through handmade, relatively linear sections. After the short but dull beginning of the game, with a very low level of difficulty and a very simple level design, you will find your most important aid for traversing enemy territory: a cursed harpoon, with which you not only deal in close and long-range combat, but also to yourself teleport to certain locations in the game world. If you see black eyeballs, boxes or opponents on an otherwise inaccessible platform, you throw the lance covered with yellow fabric at the push of a button and then warp yourself to its landing point.

Permit, Olija: You are courting favor in short interludes the eponymous queen - with the sword or with the flower. Source: PC Games You can only aim in eight directions and have to rely on an auto-aim function for everything in between, but it usually does its job reliably. In battles you swing the harpoon, which is always equipped, your fists or one of four secondary weapons that you collect in the course of the game. In theory, you can use your arsenal in addition to standard attacks in a variety of ways: Since you can combine each attack with a directional input, you fire the mighty blunderbuss into the ground to be thrown up by the recoil. Martial and elegant! You let opponents fly with the uppercut, then impale them in the air with the harpoon and warp you right afterwards to continue the combo. You also have an evasive role up your sleeve, with which, thanks to a few milliseconds of invulnerability, you can scurry straight through enemy blows and shots.

Pixel-Splatter is a must wherever Devolver acts as a publisher.

The blunderbuss leaves bloody lumps here.

Source: PC Games In practice, however, all of this is seldom necessary. Most of the few types of enemies that get in your way get on your skin in close combat and are very easy to get down with long punch combinations. Only late in the game are you forced to use your surprisingly extensive repertoire. Then the battles shift from the ground into the air and even get somewhat groovy despite the little optical noise! However, the graphic design also ensures that you often do not immediately see which of the four additional weapons you have in your holster; you only have one button to switch through the arsenal.

Few pixels, lots of charm

In the three-way boss fight against the hunters, Olija wants to get a little too much out of his spartan structure. Less is more! Source: PC Games The first friendly companion you meet after a few simple fights is a babbling old ferryman. In short cut scenes, he presents you the cornerstones of the story and chauffeurs you to the islands, which you gradually unlock by finding sea maps. If you have crossed the starting areas, bagged a rapier and perforated the first savages with cleanly animated attacks, you will reach oak flood, your hub. A handful of traders can find accommodation in the hastily assembled village, and on the fringes you keep snapping up interesting snippets of information that give the game its mysterious, morbid charm. For example, a tailor tells you that he dresses your crew in black and blue robes, as these two colors are the last thing a drowning person will see in the deep ocean. The short narrative style, coupled with the lovingly designed, but stylistically detailed pixel optics stimulate your imagination again and again to fill in any gaps - like a good horror novel.

We experience the result on the beach of a bloody attack. Victims and mourners peppered with arrows are only partially recognizable due to the graphic style. Source: PC Games With the gems and resources you collect, you build a handful of shops in the oak flood. Then you can extend your life bar, plaster healing stew between island trips and have a new headgear made by the hat maker. Clothes make the man, hats make styles of play: Depending on the hat, you have one of six special skills that you can use when the combo bar is charged. With the stylish feather hat you summon deadly blades while dodging and warping, the crocodile hat in turn lets you steal valuable life points from enemies. For particularly motivated players who want to exhaust the combat system more than the game demands, a hat is also available, which increases your speed as long as you avoid damage.

A style with light and shadow

At the hatter, you use the resources you collect to make new headgear that changes your combos. Source: PC Games Later, Olija surprises again and again with nice, scripted events that one would not have expected in such a reduced game: At the end of a temple you pick up the key to the next area, when suddenly a never-ending crowd of pitifully emaciated prisoners storms the room and pounces on you from all directions. The zombie-like figures jump on your back to slow your escape. Once you've thrown one of them away, three others are ready to jump - here Olija briefly becomes the little man's Resident Evil.

What does the artist mean by that? Even in the large view, Obermotz Rottwald remains an indefinable pixel something. Source: PC Games In the sparse boss fights, Olija repeatedly shoots himself in the leg with his coarse art style. The figures are poor in detail, the hit feedback is partly unclear and enemy attacks consist of only a few readable frames. It becomes particularly confusing in battles in which, in addition to the main boss, a horde of minions wants you to the leather: Here, figures and effects overlap to form a pixel mud in which your main character with their weapons just a few pixels in size goes down without a sound. In addition, later opponents like to teleport back and forth through the arenas, throwing explosives at you and knocking the harpoon out of your hand, which you then have to frantically call back - if you could even see that you have lost it. So you fight bosses like the three hunters who attack you in the team and actually complement each other interestingly as melee fighters, shooters and healers, more with sloppy buttonmashing than with tactical sophistication.

We facilitate the guardian of the moon sword in one fun teleport duel for his blade. Source: PC Games An annoying lowlight is above all the final boss, who comes along as a prime example of lousy boss designs with unnecessary minions, far too large pool of life and unfair, hardly comprehensible stunlock attacks. Much more fun are man-to-man duels, in which it is worthwhile to pay attention to the animations of the opponent and to take advantage of the finesse-rich combat system. Then you save the particularly powerful final attacks of your combo for the right moment, switch to the blunderbuss to stop the oncoming enemy and warp the harpoon to safety in a flash. The precise control of the game supports the fighting, which is based on precise inputs, the poorly detailed style and the preference for hordes of opponents do not.

Recommended editorial content Here you can find external content from [PLATFORM]. To protect your personal data, external integrations are only displayed if you confirm this by clicking on "Load all external content": Load all external content I consent to external content being displayed to me. This means that personal data is transmitted to third-party platforms. Read more about our privacy policy . External content More on this in our data protection declaration. Ultimately, Olija is a reduced game through and through - optics, scope and gameplay have been reduced, concise and simple. After about four to five hours, you will not only have finished the adventure, but have also effortlessly unlocked all upgrades and seen everything the game has to offer. Although the attraction of a repeat run is limited, you will have experienced a fun journey that may not seem ambitious, but with its strict focus pleasantly reminiscent of games of a bygone era. Definitely recommended for retro friends and veteran gamers!

My opinion

By Stefan Wilhelm

Author “Short, simple, good: I haven't regretted the timewarp! “You have to have an eye for details and use your imagination to be able to appreciate Olija's rough style. 2D retro games from indie studios are a dime a dozen, and even compared to many of them, Olija looks pretty old. In return, the adventure captivates with a very clear focus on simple, mostly cleanly playable action, which, apart from a few lousy boss fights, in which the developer wanted too much, is consistently entertaining. I was also surprised at how much morbid, mysterious atmosphere Olija creates with so little optical clarity. A game that knows exactly what it wants to be, without a lot of frills - a quality that I often miss in modern games! Olija (PC) 7/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Olija (PS4) 7/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Olija (NSW) 7/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Olija (XBO) 7/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Pros & Cons Successful, gloomy seafaring atmosphere Precise, direct controls that get by with just a few buttons Solid gameplay with space for complex actions ... ... which are seldom asked for, buttonmashing is almost always enough Little size, hardly any replay value Some botched boss fights More pros & cons ... Conclusion No masterpiece, but nicely made, old-fashioned food for in between

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