OVIVO Review: A Zen-Tastic Platformer With Beautifully Complex Imagery
Imagine a world where everything is in black and white. Although these two beings are complete opposites, they come together to create a sense of balance -- and they do it beautifully in the peaceful world of OVIVO.
This "metaphoric" game is chock full of hidden messages and illusions. Your character, OVO, is made of both black and white, and can switch between the two in order to traverse a dangerous world of images and collect symbols that help unravel the story.
When I entered this game's world as the circular protagonist OVO, I did so without any instruction as to what I needed to do. But the more I discovered about the game's world, the more I became immersed in it. This little indie gem from developer IzHard has proven that games can be both simple and engaging.
Relaxing Soundtrack and Design
OVIVO focuses on images and symbols, with basically no text to supplement them. It doesn't tell the player what to feel or how to interpret things, and instead pushes them to come up with their own ideas about what's really going on -- while simultaneously creating more questions about the game's story that encourages them to keep moving forward. Think of it like high-contrast zen.
The music of the game complements its images well. The sountrack, composed by Brokenkites, pulls players deeper into the experience and also relaxes the mind. Listening to it gives a sense of peaceful purpose in each level.
There are no sound effects, but this works in OVIVO's favor. Without those extra sonic distractions, the player only focuses on the music and atmosphere of when entering each level.
Flowing Gameplay and Simple Controls
OVIVO's controls feel natural and simple enough that players can truly focus on the images they're trying to navigate. OVO can cross between the black and white worlds with a simple press of the spacebar, creating a seamless experience between the two halves.
Gravity works differently depending on which half of the world you're in. The black world pulls you down, while the while world pushes you upward. So needless to say, gravity awareness and timing are the main factors to making progress through each level. Using the gravity force allows players to find inventive ways to get from one point to another. And doing so successfully was oh so satisfying.
Though I did struggle with this game later on in my playthrough, I never became so frustrated that I wanted to give up. The flow of the gameplay and the fascinating atmosphere kept me engaged even when it got tough -- and no matter how much effort it took, getting to the other side always felt rewarding.
One Unusual, Therapeutic Journey
From the music and design to the gameplay and overall experience, this indie game is actually kind of therapeutic. Its duration is perfect -- long enough to feel like a full game, but short enough that it doesn't feel like it's dragging on. OVIVO has a large world, but the game was so easy to follow and move through that I could simply flow along with OVO and trace the metaphoric images on each level.
Although it may look (and even feel) relatively simple, there's a lot of depth here that you have to play the game to appreciate. Taking a journey with OVO will give anyone a break from the fast pace of everyday life and let players enter a world where they can relax and flow along with the natural tensions between dark and light.
If you want to experience the mesmerizing OVIVO for yourself, you can pick it up on Steam for $7.99.