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Olija – Review

OLIJA may sound like a strange name to some, but it’s the latest game from Publishers Devolver Digital and Developers Skeleton Crew Studio and Thomas Olsson. Out now on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC, OLIJA kicks off 2021 in a good direction as this single-player platform action experience brings its unique story and fun gameplay to life with its simple approach and compelling narration.

Beginning your journey with the main protagonist Faraday as he finds himself on a journey to save his people, but after being shipwrecked and trapped in the country of Terraphage, he comes across a magical harpoon that grants him the magical ability to command the harpoon at will. Much like Thor’s hammer in a way but with a way cooler effect on foes that dare to get in Faraday’s way. However, the magical Harpoon is not the only weapon at his disposal, as many other items can be found during his journeys, such as a trusty rapier, or a rifle.

The many creative ways you can use the harpoon during combat will usually have you going back to it, as it brings an interesting aspect to the combat mechanics. One such neat little trick was to attach the harpoon to a wall before moving on to another area, so if you find yourself overwhelmed you can quickly teleport back to where the harpoon originally was.

Besides the harpoon, no journey was ever traveled alone, as many enemies stand between Faraday and his journey home. To help aid his journey, you have the main port that can be used as a resting point between quests and can be upgraded to allow for the crafting of items needed from the various materials found in the world of OLIJA. As an example, different hats from one particular vendor can give you different types of buffs to aid your journey.

The game’s world can also be taken in via an interactive map, allowing you to choose the next location to travel to, and enlisting the help of The Boatman; the same person who saves you at the start and guides you on your journey.

Playing on PC using the keyboard felt very familiar, but the option to change the key bindings was a helpful and considerate addition to the settings of the game. As for how the game faired during play, I had no issues when using the keyboard or when I changed the key bindings, but as to say how many times my character died trying to play about with the magic harpoon, well let’s just say that trying the many combo attacks during combat was a highly enjoyable part of the game.

Some may be intimidated by the simple graphics but that is only on the surface, as some parts of the game simply blew me away with fine details where you would not expect them to be. In one instance the game threw me off when I entered this particular area, with the field of view moving right back to show off this massive area for you to navigate, and little surprises like that are a nice touch. Even the little details such as the waving hair of the protagonist just blowing in the wind.

Little things like that really shine when they do happen. One of the greatest aspects of OLIJA is the soundtrack and how everything works well together. When something happens you can instantly tell with the way the music and atmospheric tones change, and the narration helps keep the story going as the narrator’s subtitles are not overbearing. Everything helps pull the story and games’ overall journey together.

OLIJA reminds me of a little of the classic Prince of Persia games, or even Undertale with the graphics style, but its story and gameplay are where the game truly shines. The developers over at Skeleton Crew Studio really have done a great job in creating an amazing world and an enjoyable piece of narrative-driven experience, showing us that the nostalgic feel and amazing story are a much-welcomed change from the highly polished graphical monsters that lack feeling. We should take a leaf out of their book and go back once and a while to a more simple and pure gaming experience.

The Good

  • Compelling story
  • Fun action gameplay
  • Simple Graphics on the surface but surprises you when you least expect it
  • Single-player story-driven

Written by: Simon Hayward


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