Owlboy review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC, Switch
Publisher: D-Pad Studios
Developer: D-Pad Studios
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

By whatever measure you want to use, Owlboy is pretty well-regarded. It was universally praised when it first came out on PC a few years ago, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t like its console ports now.

So I guess I’ll be the first.

Actually, that’s kind of misleading. I wouldn’t say that I dislike Owlboy so much as I simply don’t see what the fuss is all about.

Like, I get that people enjoy its nods to all things retro. It has graphics and music that wouldn’t have been out of place on the SNES, its Metroidvania gameplay will appeal to anyone who loves sprawling platformers, and it has a fairly coherent story about Otus, the titular owlboy who has disappointed his family and is now battling with invading sky pirates.

In other words, it’s like dozens upon dozens of other similar games. I mean, yes, Owlboy arguably came closer to the beginning of the indie game boom than something like Iconoclasts, which checks off all the same boxes, but if I had to choose between Owlboy and most of its contemporaries or followers, I don’t get why I would pick Owlboy over something else.

The one neat innovation I can see in Owlboy is that it doesn’t just think of platforming on a flat plane. While that’s obviously a core feature of many Metroidvania platformers, by giving the main character wings (since he, after all, a boy who’s an owl) the game opens things up much more than most other games of this ilk. You get a little more freedom to explore right off the bat here than you do elsewhere, which is nice.

But that, by itself, isn’t enough to set Owlboy apart or make it a must-have game, as far as I’m concerned. It’s fine for what it is, and I certainly wouldn’t begrudge anyone who does love the game and hold it in insanely high regard, but if I’m being completely honest, I just don’t get it.

D-Pad Studios provided us with an Owlboy PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B