Oblitus Review: You Only Live Once

February 20th, 2015 -

 

Can you remember the last time you played a game that was difficult but you thought it was fair? Do you remember a time when a game’s length wasn’t the determining factor of whether a game was worth your money or not? Do you remember when games didn’t have saves, and you had to make it from beginning to end in one go? Question: do you want to?

Title

Oblitus is the latest title from Connor Ullman, and it’s being called a 2D Dark Souls by many outlets. While I agree in some respects, merely comparing the two does it an injustice. Oblitus is very much its own game. You may remember my original impressions from last May, and I’m happy to say there’ve been a lot of changes to the game since then – pretty much all positive.

The tutorial of the game is optional, and if you’re using a gamepad, you may as well skip it (even though it takes less than a minute to complete). It’s more fun to learn the controls in-game on your own, and you’ll be seeing that opening screen many, many times anyhow, so get used to it. Oh, and if you’re thinking beating the first boss will earn you a checkpoint, think again. The game doesn’t take long to beat once you have it down, but the time you need to invest to get there will certainly add up.

gliding

The game has many paths for you to explore in each “level,” with item pick-ups randomized (artifacts, scrolls) each time you play. You may learn a skill such as downward attacks, or your roll may gain distance or invulnerability, or maybe you’ll get a boost to your health. You’ll also gain abilities after beating bosses, which will help immensely, and make you feel so much cooler – though it’s sad the first time you get your wings, die, and no longer have them. Procedurally generated levels have become big recently, and while those are great, this gives you the familiarity of level layout, but changes how you’ll progress as a character. It’s entirely possible to progress without acquiring the optional boosts, as I ran directly to the first boss from the spawn point the first time I beat him, which was about my tenth run (quite a bit more challenging than my previous encounter with him last year – though once you learn the tells and/or get good at aiming your throws, he’s a cake walk). The level design also requires a lot of trial and error – certain areas may look dangerous, but end up being perfectly fine to traverse, and there will be plenty of dead-ends that may hold skills on a different run.

The music for the game is absolutely wonderful. It has this ambient feel that seems to just go on forever without repeating, though things amp up once you reach a boss and the music abruptly changes to an invigorating, blood pumping battle score. Regardless of where you are in the game, it lends itself to the world beautifully. It’s a bit unsettling, a tad adventurous, and a whole lot of awesome. Speaking of the art, the environments have this concept feel to them. It creates a sense of surrealism when you’re traversing it. It’s clearly a choice, as promo art and other parts of the game are rendered differently. The bosses also have a much more detailed look about them, which adds to the battle – I would get distracted admiring them, and all of a sudden I was dead.

Screenshot156066

There were only a couple issues I had with the game, and that was some wonky movement now and then. For example, rolling in a liquid is notably slower than in a normal environment – but there were times the liquid physics would be in effect while I was in an area I had been multiple times previously where there was no slowdown. There are also portions of levels that seem like you’d be able to just walk along them to continue, but you are required to jump – really weird complaint, and easily dodged after learning that’s how the areas are setup, but it was irksome. Other than that, I didn’t run into anything else that stood out in a negative manner. Controls are tight and responsive, enemies are varied and fun, and bosses prove to be a challenge. I don’t want to go into too many details about the game, because the magic of it is really discovering things for yourself.

Oblitus makes no effort to hold your hand; it just shoves you off a cliff and tells you to fly. If you’re lucky, you’ll glide before you land. But keep climbing up that cliff, and you’ll fly eventually – after all, there’s an achievement for beating the game under 25 minutes. As I mentioned, it’s not a long game, but the process of getting good enough will take you quite a while. And while that concept has picked up in recent years with roguelike titles gaining appeal via streaming services, it originated decades ago. It’s refreshing that while AAA developers have yet to make a big budget roguelike title, so many small teams are able to create this subgenre. The Souls series, and the soon to be released Bloodborne are proof people want difficult games – it’s just a matter of getting titles like Oblitus attention. Short enough to beat in a sitting, hard enough to keep you challenged, and fun enough to keep drawing you back in.

BUY

Pros:

  • Aesthetics
  • Difficult but Fair
  • Bosses
  • Upgrade System

Cons:

  • Random Movement Issues

Oblitus was created by Connor Ullman and published by Adult Swim Games. The game will be available on PC February 27, 2015. The copy reviewed was provided for us. If you’d like to see more Oblitus, check out the official site.

 

Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

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