You see, this is the problem with most reviewers these days. When a triple A title comes along, it is a bloodbath to see who takes it. People will whine, others will cry, others will get fired. But when it’s time to review an indie title, an indie platofmrer no less, people suddenly remember they have to study for exams. Our culturally insensitive society continues to ignore the more artistic displays, achievable with today’s gaming. Well, I am here to make a difference! Lets get on with your review Ovivo!
«a few playthroughs later»
-Oh, god, take me back to shooting Talibans!
Ovivo isn’t so much one of these games where you make up your own story, as it is one of those games that simply doesn’t have a story. You’re just a black/white ball, moving through the levels until you find the teleport to get to the next level. It’s an artsy approach for it to be sure, as while you explore the levels you’re zoomed, but when you finish one the screen zooms out to reveal that what you were considering to be random lines while you were traversing, is actually The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo, done entirely in ink-lines.
It’s a nice concept, working your way towards the end of a level to see in amazement what the connected lines actually look like. Except sometimes they really don’t mean anything, and it’s just random lines that zoom out to be a big network of random lines. To be fair, it’s kinda hard to fit a moving fish/dragon to the works of renascence, but honestly, you’ll barely be looking at it for 5 seconds before you’re anxious to move to the next level to get the game over with, so mayhaps we shouldn’t look too deep into it.
The whole gameplay of Ovivo focuses on one simple mechanic: When you’re black, the gravity works normally, when you’re white, the gravity is reversed. One could through a few racial puns in there, but I don’t think Ovivo has any alterior motives, or in fact, any motives, so I’ll let it pass. You can see it from the screenshots, but the idea is that when your controllable ball of ink turns white, it tends to float at the reverse surface of the black lines. It’s a relatively simply puzzle-solving idea, that the game utilizes as much as it can to offer puzzle variety.
The trick here, is that just like normal gravity, the further up you are when you hit the ground, the more force you’ll hit it with. If you change in the last second from black to white however, you’ll maintain your force and dive much deeper into to the black pool, before the other gravity comes in effect, in turn pulling you with much greater force to the surface. It’s hard to think of any accurate analogies, so just think of it as a game where you need to keep the momentum as you change from white to black and in reverse the moment you’re about to hit the respective surface. It really is much easier than it sounds, especially if you’re using a controller like a normal person and it gives Ovivo a nice relaxing flow that few platformers can claim to have.
All that is shattered when the enemies start appearing though. Thorns are the most common… Eeeh… «Thorn» in your side, with the puzzles requiring you to have built very accurate amounts of momentum so you can fully dive under them, but not enough that you’ll hit the next set of thorns lurking nearby. Then we have the actual monsters hunting you, like the aforementioned fish/dragon, a needlessly stressing encounter in a game all about admiring the aesthetics. And then, we have the most common way to die: falling to the void or floating too far up. Due to the camera’s zoom, sometimes you can’t tell where there’s a white line-boundary above you, or indeed if there is one, so I often found myself making leaps of faith (or «dives» of faith), sometimes getting torn by thorns and other times managing to skip large potions of the stage and finishing the level faster.
To my own surprise, Ovivo left a much better impression than I expected, and that’s all thanks to its stylish combination of visuals, with the relaxing music playing on the background. As much as one wants to judge it for being somewhat boring, you have to admit that the developers achieved what they were hoping for. A passable journey from one end of the map to another, without much thought involved in it, almost to a hypnotising effect.
The funny thing is, I can’t tell if the developers spent too much time designing the levels, or too little. I’m fairly certain many of these white/black lines were maid by programs just scanning the original images, but on the other hand, I can’t imagine random programs being so successful in creating structured, interesting gameplay. Regardless, the influence the game has on the player is impressive… Before you eventually get bored.
Look, I do think 8 euros is a bit too much for a game that’s barely three hours. However, if you’re a fun of the «artsy» genre and are looking for a relaxing way to spend one afternoon, give it a shot when it’s on discount. Otherwise, stay away. Gamehorizon gives its thumbs up for the specific audiences who are into this sort of thing.