Oscura review (iOS / Universal)

November 8, 2011

“Come gentle death in dead of night
And steal away the morning light”

10 word description: 2D platform game. Gothic atmosphere. Collect light shards. Avoid hazards.

Danger lurks everywhere; your only option is to avoid it

10 word review: Great art, tricky levels, reliable controls. Very, very short game.

The temporary monochrome of Oscura's version of bullet-time makes it look even more similar to Limbo

You will like this if you enjoy: Dark-themed, hard platform games. Limbo. Games where you die a lot.

As you pass by and light these lanterns, they act as checkpoints

The good news: Dark, ominous art style with suitably grim traps and monsters. No on-screen controls – adds to the visual appeal. Control method works well, particularly if you’ve played games with a similar set-up. Completing levels isn’t too hard, but achieving a good rating is both tough and satisfying.

That tall, evil looking thing on the right is one of the largest enemies that you will encounter

The bad news: It’s incredibly short, weighing in at just 7 levels, which is even less than the original version of Bean’s Quest – quite an achievement, but not one to be proud of. The control method works, but there are no other options and I don’t expect every player to completely love the method on offer. No achievements to earn apart from level star ratings.

Narrowly avoiding death by Antler Creature looks so cool I'm surprised more people aren't doing it

Arcadelife verdict: Comparisons with Limbo are fairly obvious, due to the visual style, gloomy atmosphere and frequent death-by-spiky-things, however this is a straight run, jump and die-a-lot platformer, whereas Limbo is much more puzzle oriented. Also, talking about the style, Limbo is disturbing due to the protagonist being a small, lost boy. Oscura’s main character is just as spindly and freaky as the enemy creatures, so there’s no emotional reaction watching him getting impaled or drowned apart from thinking, oops – try again.

If this was a Mario game, that orange stuff might be blancmange. It isn't

Personally, I got on well with the control method – tap left side to go left, right side to go right, both sides simultaneously to jump. It’s been used before in Shift, Terava, Mos Speedrun and other platform style games. Anyone preferring some kind of D-pad or on-screen buttons could be disappointed.

'ello gorgeous

Ultimately, the tiny number of levels is a bit of a joke, although not very funny. There are plenty of lite (free) versions of games out there with more content than this and there’s really no excuse for not including the twelve levels that appear on the level select screen in the initial release. Oscura still gets a decent rating, but I’m adding a big warning/disclaimer to balance it – the game elements are great, but it is ridiculously short. I got through all 7 levels in under 20 minutes and I wasn’t even rushing it.

At the moment, this is the last level. Yeah, I know...

Arcadelife rating: 77/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Chocolate Liberation Front website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0)
iPad (OS 5.0)

One comment

  1. shame. A Limbo port would be awesome though.

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