Olija is an adventure game that gives me strong Out of the World/Another World vibes, but manages to be so completely different. In Olija you play as Captain Faraday, stranded in the odd land of Terraphage, looking for a way to bring himself and the other castaways home. Terraphage is a mysterious, dark place, but Faraday has a magic harpoon that works as both a weapon and a means of traversal through this bleak world.
Based on old sailor’s legends and Asian fantasy, Olija’s world is strange, and different than any other I’ve explored. Exploration is a major part of Olija—but it’s not quite a metroidvania. Your magic harpoon is throwable, and if stuck into certain objects, allows you to travel instantaneously to them. This allows for interesting platforming sections that require precise timing. This harpoon returns to you once thrown, a feature I enjoy since I’m a total sucker for weapons that can be recalled after being tossed.
While travelling through the world of Terraphage, you’ll have a chance to meet the locals, comprised mostly of dark indigenous tribes and various cults—and fight them to the death. Combat in Olija is fast, and made extremely dynamic with the use of the harpoon as not just as a weapon, but as a means of quick movement. You can even use it strategically by tossing it into an enemy to quickly move to their location. You can also damage enemies when you recall the harpoon, giving you the ability to perform some fun combat tricks.
Exploration is important in Olija. Find secrets, gather materials to make magical hats, and set castaways free. Some of the characters you meet will help you back at your home base of Oaktide—a sort of shanty town built by castaways who found themselves trapped in Terraphage. While not exactly like a metroidvania, Olija isn’t exactly linear either. You can choose where to have the boatman take you, and as you explore and defeat enemies, more of the world opens up.
Olija contains minimalist pixel art graphics that manage to be striking, and immersive. While minimal, there is a surprising attention to detail. The environments are detailed and gorgeous, and range from tranquil to horrific. Its story is told in text narration and short cutscenes that are peppered throughout the gameplay, and help give perspective and increase immersion while also giving glimpses into the enigmatic world.
While not exactly your typical action game with platform elements, Olija promises an unconventional adventure. Olija will release on January 28th— but there’s a demo available now on its Steam Store page if you want to check out the gameplay for yourself.
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