Like all great short stories, Olija manages to do more with less. Its characters are roughly drawn and very pixelated, but they build strong bonds that resonate and create real stakes. The caves, ruins, and dark corners of the world exude an ominous, foreboding mood that permeates every turn. And the action, a mix of quick-moving combat and light puzzle-platforming, steadily and consistently finds new ways to keep you on your toes. Olija takes exactly as much time as it needs to tell its story and show you everything in its bag of tricks.
Olija follows Faraday, a shipwrecked lord trapped on a hostile chain of islands called Terraphage. Facing all sorts of magic, dark oozing blobs, and people who want him dead, the lost lord seems doomed, but he quickly finds a weapon to turn his fortune: a legendary magic harpoon that he can throw and either teleport to its location or summon back to him. To get home and, optionally, save his crew, Faraday explores the islands of Terraphage, defeats a hidden evil, saves a queen–you know, hero stuff.
Though it boils down to a clichéd hero’s quest at the most essential level, Olija teases a lot of narrative out of a small amount of exposition. Faraday has a small retinue of recurring companions and acquaintances he meets on his journey, including a ferryman who brings him from island to island and shipwrecked sailors of Oaktide, a floating shantytown. While Faraday is silent, his companions speak to him, and you can sense the bond that forms between them. Their spoken tone softens and they grow more familiar as Faraday integrates into their lives. Those connections anchor Faraday’s journey with a human connection that resonates beyond the plot, and gives you a reason to see things through.Continue Reading at GameSpot
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