Olija is a cute game developed by Skeleton Crew Studio & Thomas Olsson and published by Devolver Digital for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC.
It tells the story of a fishing village lord that gathered his people and set sail on a ship in search of a better life. As it usually goes, during the voyage the ship got caught in a great storm and was wrecked, and the lord got trapped in the mysterious place called Terraphage.
It is up to players to find a way out from this hostile land and return home.
The protagonist’s life is saved by a boatsman that brings him to the abandoned dock that serves as a living place for the lord’s villagers. At first, it is really barren and empty, but upon spending some time traversing through the caves you can find weapons that help to improve the situation a little.
With every hike or improvement, the dock becomes more lively and comfortable little by little.
Later in the game, we have a chance to encounter the mysterious Olija, the local princess that the protagonist naturally falls in love with. Of course, as it usually happens, the lord and the young beautiful princess will have a certain type of relationship as the plot of the game progresses.
Your actions mostly consist of jumping back and forth and attacking with a variety of weapons. The best one is undoubtedly the “harpoon of legends”. Upon figuring out a few combinations, you can return to the old dungeons that were impassable before due to the lack of certain skills.
I always used the harpoon in addition to the saber or a spear. That’s it, this combination is just enough to complete the game.
You can also pick up a crossbow but after playing with it for a while it becomes obvious that it is not the kind of weapon required to play through the challenges.
Olija also introduces you to a hatter with his magic tricks. Are we in Wonderland? Quite possibly so! You will have to find him in one of the dungeons and free him to receive access to his services in the future.
The game offers a couple of puzzles that aren’t too difficult to figure out but still are quite interesting. On a similar note, you can also find a few secret rooms with boats in a bottle. I have no idea what they are for, however.
Mechanically, the bosses you will have to take on are very simple. However, it still might take you a few attempts to fell your foe: it is very easy to mess up a combination of abilities, overlook your dwindling health or jump in the wrong direction and meet your doom.
The pixel graphics seem very jarring initially and it takes a while to get accustomed to it. The game features certain minimalism both when it comes to graphics, and when it comes to animation. Sometimes it feels eerily simple, but once you have spent enough time inside the game you start appreciating how lively it looks all together.
The music and the ambient sounds complement the surrounding world well. You sail in a boat, and your headset is filled with the sound of creaking wood, running water, and its murmur. The magical atmosphere brought on by the music helps to look at the surroundings with a certain tenderness.
Olija is a wonderfully atmospheric game that can mesmerize you for a few evenings. However, the execution of mechanics can be a letdown in certain moments.
Note: the Steam key was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.
- Mysterious atmosphere
- Pleasant music
- Intriguing story
- Very simple gameplay
- Mechanically bound only to your weapon choice