Olija is a short metroidvania game. You play as a man named Faraday, he’s the lord of a small city that’s falling to ruin and starvation. You go out with a bunch of men to go find new waters to fish at to survive, only one problem… your boat gets wrecked and everyone is fucked. It’s like the fucking 1800s, all the bad things happen because it’s a bad time. Faraday wakes up on a random unknown island with some sort of tar slime monster things, you beat the shit out of them and move on to find a compass. Once you find the compass you become effectively the god of all the people that are stuck in this land because you are somehow the hero of the spear. You find this spear, and it’s a magical spear. When you throw it and you can teleport to it or teleport it back to you. You gain new powers as the game continues, the biggest part is that you get fancy hats that have their own abilities.

The game lets you do combat where you combo attacks with both a heavy and light attacks to kill various enemies, you can also throw your spear to hurt them and teleport to them, when you teleport to them you can do a special attack by attacking right as you appear or you can just hurt the enemy by throwing the spear at an enemy which isn’t super powerful on it’s own. You can also buy hats with items you get from enemies, boxes, and the like which have their own unique powers. For instance one hat spawns feathers when you dash which follow after you and hurt enemies between the feathers and you, another gives you health when you hurt enemies, etc. You can also find a couple ranged weapons which have ammunition, I don’t really have much for them because I really didn’t bother using them, I’m very much a melee type of player in games.

It’s hard to say much about the game as it takes two to three hours to beat it, however even though it’s very pixelly it’s a very pretty game. Faraday travels via raft to different areas, each area has a few islands to it and each area has its own unique look. Each island in an area you go to unlocks a part of the final island in the area that’s otherwise blocked off; in this blocked off area you fight the boss. After beating the boss you unlock a map piece, which unlocks a new area to go to. Also when you beat a boss you get a key for the “magical way out” door. Each boss, for the most part, starts as a person and turns into a monster. And these are not easy fights, many of them require a lot of platforming during them to avoid getting hit and to reach the boss to beat the ever living shit out of them. Each boss is unique in both how they fight, are beaten, and look, with the last boss being someone of high importance which explains what’s going on in this mysterious land.

You might be wondering what Olija is, is it the name of the place they’re trapped in? No. The name of the big bad? No. It’s a name of the Asian woman Faraday falls in love with that lives in that place like everyone else, she’s also a princess. You learn next to nothing about her in the entire game which is sad. I would have liked to have seen more about their relationship in the game, more about them I think could have fleshed them both out more, because they clearly were fleshing them out to a degree but stopped short which I mean is normal for metroidvania games, you get a bit of backstory then it’s just gameplay, for Olija they put story throughout the whole thing which is nice but I would have loved more, the characters were somewhat interesting so I wanted them to be made fully interesting by giving MORE.

Overall, I really like the game, though I think it’s a bit too short. The boss fights, while interesting, were a bit overly hard compared to the standard enemies. There wasn’t a gradient to normal mooks to bosses. The enemies start off easy and get slightly harder as the game continues, the increase comes by giving different types of enemies that require new techniques to kill them, but the bosses are significantly harder. It’s like turning your music volume from one to ten with the mooks to like fifty with the bosses until the final boss when it’s ramped to like eighty. The final boss is a bitch. I also as stated really liked the graphics; they’re really pretty.

Olija was developed by Skeleton Crew Studio.

Point of Sale: X1, PS4, Switch, Steam.

$15 everywhere

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A review copy of the game was provided by the devs.

darkmikasonfire awards Olija the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.