Owlboy came out originally in 2016 to absolutely rave reviews. Like many games, it’s now being released on the Nintendo Switch, where it feels right at home and still just as superb. Owlboy follows the tale of Otus, and his friend Geddy, as they fight off vicious pirates attacking the town of Advent. Otus is one of the Owls, a race of beings that have excelled at science and protect the world from various plights… including the pirates. But things go sideways, as they always do, and Owlboy quickly becomes a harrowing journey into the sky. This is our Owlboy review for the Nintendo Switch.
To call Owlboy a side-scrolling game would be doing it a huge disservice. It’s more of a side-scrolling Zelda that isn’t terrible (fight me, Zelda 2 fans), and instead, a heartwarming tale that evokes emotions with pixels I didn’t think was possible. Otus is mute, as so many heroes are in these games, but the world knows it. His mentor treats him like garbage. People in his village love him, but he’s often seen as someone who can’t or won’t amount to much. D-Pad Studio has put in a lot of love for this world, its characters, and the story it’s trying to tell. But just as well, there’s a lot of humor, some truly funny moments, right alongside the somber.
You fly about the world with Otus, but his friends are his weapons. Geddy, his lifelong buddy being the foremost. Each one has different strengths, helps you navigate and get through barriers (a la Metroid), and they’re real characters too. As you camp in the world between larger adventures, you can explore their back-story, learn what makes them tick. And all of this brings you into a more involved relationship. Few pixel games go this far to make you care about its world and people, and it’s clear D-Pad truly wants you to be involved with Otus and his friends.
As you progress through the game’s expansive levels (though Owlboy sports more of an open world, just without a map), you’ll gain more friends and more powers to use. At first, I was worried that swapping and carrying each friend would be a chore, but early on in the game, Otus gets the ability to basically “teleport” his friends wherever he is. A nice in-game lore explanation for how he’s able to switch between weapons while still having it make sense in the world. The ancient owls of this world had some seriously dazzling tech that is now all but forgotten, and as you explore more and more of their rise and fall story becomes unveiled.
It’s hard not to recommend Owlboy, or to find fault in a game’s that simply oozing charm and plays so well. If there are any complaints to be made, it’s that the Switch port seems to suffer from various bugs, and crashes. But for the most part, I’ve had a fine experience save for one event where my game’s background seemed to become glitched and textures and models showed up incorrectly. A simple restart of the game fixed it, and thanks to the autosave feature I didn’t lose any progress. Others have experienced many crashes, but it seems to be a random issue.
In short, Owlboy is plainly superb. As it was in 2016, D-Pad Studios has crafted an excellent adventure that should be played by all. If you’ve already experienced Owlboy on another platform, there’s nothing here you haven’t yet seen. But if, like me, you never did play it before – now is the perfect time to experience one of the best indie adventures in modern memory.