Olija review: a pleasantly intense journey

Let's discover Olija in this review, a videogame made of dark presences in a world of pirate and oriental tones

Devolver Digital is one of those publishers to always keep an eye on. A publisher who has very often made us discover little pearls of gameplay and storytelling, many of these only possible in the world of small developers. With Olija, title developed by Skeleton Crew Studio, we are faced with another really interesting video game with a lot to say and little time to do it, let's find out together in this review.

A pirate's odyssey

It often happens, especially in the most recent period, to find particularly complex and extensive video games in your hands. However beautiful and cared for an Assassin's Creed Valhalla, for example, it requires a minimum of commitment in knowing how to manage resources and time without getting lost in a decidedly huge map. Without going into detail, Destiny 2 can also be pure chaos, easily becoming a pure source of stress. It can therefore sometimes be useful to take a break with more focused and straight titles. Olija is among them, a particular video game that we will now analyze in our review.

Olija review: a pleasantly intense journey

Shipwrecked in a distant land - Olija Review

Caught by a storm at sea, Faraday and his crew are overwhelmed by the waters and scattered in the mysterious archipelago of Terraphage. Our protagonist will have to try to save his comrades by surviving an inhospitable land, a place of strange mystical events. He soon discovers that in order to return to his homeland, he will need a special harpoon to confront an indigenous race of creatures.

History has one very interesting development, especially from the moment the the principle of Olija. The inspiration and themes certainly derive from adventure literature, among them certainly Heart of Darkness but also the hopeless worlds of Lovecraft. All within an oriental mix, with a Japanese and pirate climate.

The events are told with a few dialogues and some "Grumbles" that make up the dubbing. The animations for the most cinematic scenes are really very expressive, extremely necessary if we consider that from an artistic point of view we are dealing with a very minimal work. In any case, the story continues with decidedly interesting implications, ready to amaze with its secrets and narrative developments, a sign of a stylistic mix that has caught the point.

Olija review: a pleasantly intense journey

In the heart of the game - Olija Review

Olija from a purely gameplay point of view is very traditional and one could easily call it a classic Metroidvania. With Faraday you will therefore have to explore in large quantities in search of resources and secrets. The world map is small and you will discover unknown areas by finding special ones hidden maps. When you have obtained one, all you have to do is donate it to your trusty game charon, an elderly gentleman who has taken the responsibility of transporting you by sea, to any discovery destination you desire.

Once you reach the place you will be alone against the indigenous inhabitants. Jumping from one platform to another will then begin the real exploration made up of small hidden openings at the edge of the screen or apparently optional secondary routes. We say "apparently" because the game is anyway rather linear, there is a good deal of freedom, but as inside spacious corridors. So not interconnected maps like in Metroid or Hollow Knight, but something more focused which allowed developers to build more narrative and studied sequences.

Olija review: a pleasantly intense journey

Quick Pixel Fights - Olija Review

In fact, there is no action that is not accompanied by cute (and minimal) animations, especially as regards the combat system. Initially you will be completely devoid of objects in your pocket and your only weapons will be the punches. You can give a few simple hits or send enemies flying with a firm jump kick.

However, you will soon get hold of one sword simple. By unleashing a few hits with it, thanks to the attack button, Faraday will perform a simple combo. Pressing it repeatedly it will perform a series of quick and lethal blows or, if used in jumping will attack, with a lunge from above. Every shot, whether it is thanks to the vibration with the pad or even just through the visual effects, the fights are a real pleasure thanks to the feedback received.

Olija review: a pleasantly intense journey

The Ninja Harpoon - Olija Review

The heart of the game, however, comes to obtaining the legendary harpoon. It is a rather slow weapon when used for normal attacks, but its power is contained in the special ability to be able to cling to wooden objects, “alien” creatures or enemies in general. This weapon can in fact be launched in any direction and by pressing the attack button again you will be catapulted towards the hit object. This allows Faraday to both reach distant areas, amplifying the exploratory potential, but also making the fighting more dynamic.

Suddenly you can then jump from one side of the screen to the other to dodge faster or reach the annoying enemies that attack you from a distance. The combat system is therefore dependent on the skill of the player. In addition to the harpoon and the sword, you will also find other secondary weapons along your journey, such as the crossbow which can fire various types of bullets. All objects that guarantee Olija a good depth of gameplay which, although the game is not overly complex, make the combat pleasantly articulated and varied.

Olija review: a pleasantly intense journey

The treasures of a pirate - Review Olija

By killing the natives or by neutralizing strange Lovecraftian creatures, you will begin to amass a prestigious cash fortune. All this will be useful for you expand the central hub, which is the place you can return to after completing the exploration of any distant island. You can expand it with shops to stock up on items and upgrades.

Among these is the a doctor's kiosk to increase your life points or you can pay a sailor, who will then embark on an adventure to get you more riches. However, the most interesting is the headdress seller. By providing him with the necessary items, you can buy hats that can unleash special abilities: lethal feathers that hit enemies, automatic heals or more. Beyond this they are also great for giving Faraday an extra touch of style.

Olija review: a pleasantly intense journey

Our conclusions

Olija is a video game that we really enjoyed. Its qualities are for the most part due to a very short duration of experience, which is attested to four hours. In this way the developers have created a small jewel, capable of enchanting for its attention to detail. Little is left to chance in Olija, everything becomes a narrative and gameplay vehicle at the same time. Everything flows very smoothly, so much so that you will find yourself at the end before you know it. While durability may be one of its strengths, it is also a weakness.

The fight, however magnetic and exciting, does not reach a satisfactory development. The bosses and enemies are in fact far too simple and engaging in combat becomes more of an exercise in style. Furthermore, the reasons for returning to this world are perhaps too few, there are not even different levels of difficulty. Nonetheless it is a bewitching video game with the atmosphere on its side, backed up by a storyline that is unlikely to keep you glued to the screen.

The game of this review, Olija, is available now for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch. Keep following us to stay up to date on video games and technology.

7.7 Oriental pirates

Points in favor

  • Exciting story
  • Heart-pounding fights
  • Graphically pleasing
  • Short but intense

Points against

  • Short, perhaps too short
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