Once in a while, a game comes around that does what it sets out to do perfectly. Portal is a fine example of this, with a tight narrative and gameplay experience that flows perfectly and is a joy to play from start to finish.

Olija is another example.

The game begins with Lord Faraday setting sail in search of funds to save his town, which has fallen on hard times. The journey doesn’t got well, however, with a storm shipwrecking him and his crew on the shores of Terraphage. Whilst initially searching for a crew, Faraday stumbled across the Lady Olija, a mysterious lady of royal blood who has been captured by the sinister Clan Rottenwood, and an even more mysterious harpoon with a strange power. Faraday needs to wield this power to defeat the clan and find a way back home. Whilst coming across as an adventure game with very oriental overtones, it also is infused with Lovecraftian monstrosities and an unsettling vibe.

Cutscenes in the game are minimal and the story is mostly told throughout the gameplay. The boatman will provide some context for you while you sale, and other story elements unfold while you are knee deep in the action. Furthermore, there are occasional set-pieces with Olija, which offer a distinct change of pace and are overwhelmingly adorable. A stealth section that crops up is remarkably well done and is a highlight of the game. Whilst it may not further the plot much, it does help to highlight the relationship between the two characters. All in all, it’s a sweet and creepy story that is wonderfully paced and ends well. There are a couple of moments near the end of the game that seem to tease a choice, but unfortunately there is none. It doesn’t hamper the story, however, but it would have been nice to choose how Faraday’s story concludes.

I’m not going to lie. When I first saw the Indie World Showcase that showed off Olija, the art style didn’t impress me. Retro visuals are ten a penny these days, and on initial viewing I had cast the game off as yet another one. This changed after I actually jumped into the game.

The initial cutscenes are remarkably well done, with a stunning art style (reminiscent of something like Flashback), but it isn’t long until you are thrown into the action. Within minutes, I was flabbergasted by just how great the animation was; everything was smooth as butter, and every action felt absolutely right. It was this moment when I knew that my initial impressions were mistaken, and this title was going to be something special.

Olija | Programas descargables Nintendo Switch | Juegos | Nintendo



Despite being a Lord, Faraday really knows how to handle himself. But you do you know to handle him?

The most important skill to learn is how to combo. Each hit will result in a dot appearing above Faraday’s head. After four hits, a giant circle will appear. The next attack will be a combo finisher and the attack will depend on the weapon you choose. My favourite is the shotgun finisher!
ImageWith a press of the right trigger, Faraday can pull off a dodge manoeuvre. Whilst it may not be essential early on, it certainly comes in handy as you progress through the game!ImageYour harpoon isn’t just for platforming. Use it to hook into enemies and smash into them. Doing so will allow you to build a strong gold combo too!
Faraday’s health is a precious resource, and methods of life restoration are hard to come by. Ensure you max out your HP by visiting the strange guy in Oaktide!

There are seven unlockable hats throughout the course of the game that can aid you in your journey. Collect enough materials and the hat-maker will knock one together for you.

ImageA surprisingly useful early game hat. When you dash, and assortment of lethal feathers will follow you, shredding through the enemy.

Acid is commonplace throughout the game. This hat will protect you against it, and combos will make a little spew out to damage your foes too!

You can steal the life force from enemies with this hat. Handy considering health restoration is minimal in Olija.


Pulling off a combo without getting hit will net you a run and attack speed boost with this hat.

Combo attacks will charge your harpoon with electricity. It’s useful, but can be a hindrance if there’s water around.


The shards from this mask can be used on enemies, but also shot out in a shotgun blast!

With this fierce mask, you can spin your harpoon around like a saw blade. It seems to activate somewhat randomly though, but it’s devastating when it does!


The creatures that make up Clan Rottenwood are the particular highlight of the design. These monstrous blobs with tentacles are ripped straight out of the Lovecraft playbook, whilst maintaining the simplistic design that permeates the rest of the game. In fact, that lack of detail in the aesthetic tends to add to the creepiness of the designs, rather than subtract. This is also complemented by the audio design, since the sounds of the monsters and the moodiness of the music only help to suck you in. The soundtrack to Olija in general in magnificent; when the main riff kicks in, it really gives me the chills . it’s that good!

In essence, Olija is a platformer with a slight Metroidvania feel, insofar as the individual islands feel like they are open areas, even if they aren’t. Typically the main islands will have multiple pathways leading to different areas, each housing a key at the end. Once you obtain them all, you can open up the locked chamber leading to the island’s boss. Inevitably you will need to revisit islands in order to traverse different pathways, but once they are done, they’re done.

Most of the traversal is focused around the harpoon, which allow the user to teleport to it… but only while it is hooked into something. It’s a simple premise, but it’s used very well. There are many sections of the game which require you to solve puzzles or do something a little different to the norm, and all of them were an absolute delight to play through. The short nature of the game, which took me around five hours to beat, allows the game to experiment with different ideas – but never allows it to get to the point where any annoy you. An example of this is an enemy that stops you from using your harpoon. This idea is used in many games of this type, and this gimmick tends to get infuriating after a while; but I only ever encountered a couple of them in the entirety of my playthrough, making it a new challenge to think around, rather than an irritating roadblock. Similarly the aforementioned stealth section is a one time thing and extremely forgiving, ensuring that it ends up being the fun diversion it was intended as.

‘Forgiving’ is perhaps an appropriate word to describe the whole game, in fact. Both platforming and combat are challenging enough to keep you on your toes, without ever getting frustratingly difficult. Combat is made up of standard attacks with the harpoon, along with a secondary weapon of your choice. The secondary weapons aren’t overly varied, since two of them are basically just upgraded versions of the other two, but they get the job done. You can chain these together in a combo, which finishes with a more powerful attack. Your harpoon can, of course, be used against enemies to both damage them and assist in traversal around the room; it is also useful for powering up your combo too, giving you a gold combo that inflicts more damage. It’s a pretty enjoyable combat system, with every hit feeling impactful and visceral as you strike your target. Whilst I did die on occasion, I never died more than once or twice in a section. These combat sequences are nothing compared to the boss fights though, which are astounding. Each of the three main islands contains a boss, although there are occasional mini-bosses too, and all of them are really well designed and fun – putting your skills to the test. One particular highlight sees you fighting three hunters at once, all with their own fighting style. Not only was it the hardest fight of the game, but it was also incredibly rewarding.

In addition to all this, there are a variety of collectibles for you to discover. The key things to collect are the materials you can use to craft hats. These can be pretty useful, and I’ve outlined their uses in the adjacent section. You can also track down the crewmates of your ship, who have been captured and caged, throughout your travels; these need to be freed by cutting the ropes above them – which is not always easy to do, requiring you to find a way to get above the cage in order to save the helpless soul. There are also ships in bottles and music boxes hidden around the world, and these can be tricky to find – especially since the game has a habit of sealing off areas you have cleared, making them inaccessible once you are done. An annoyance to be sure for getting 100%, but I don’t believe they actually do anything. These collectibles won’t drag you back for a replay, but the game is such a well crafted experience that you will probably want to replay it just to experience it again.

El videojuego 'Olija' y su aventura marina desvelan fecha de lanzamiento

Olija on Steam

I really cannot understate how much I loved Olija. Not a single moment of the game felt wasted, nor was any of it less than fantastic. It’s a little bit of a shame that the game flies by, with rarely much chance to experiment with all the hats and weapons you acquire, but at the same time I am glad it ended when it did rather than stretching itself too thin. Skeleton Crew Studio should be really proud of the work they did with the game, and I hope it ends up being as successful as it deserves.