Many of the games I’ve played in the past that really put an emphasis on the art style usually lack when it comes to gameplay. Not that it means the gameplay is automatically going to be bad, but it’s going to feel limited. At least, this has always been my experience. You’ll maybe have just two or three buttons to mash, and the game won’t get much more complex than that. This is what I’ve thought about these different “Interactive art” style games that I’ve played in the past. That is until I played Ovivo, and I was pleasantly surprised at what the game turned out to be.
Ovivo is an unexpectedly complex, black and white platformer developed by IzHard. In Ovivo you play as OVO, a small circle-shaped character with an antenna on its head. OVO can transition through different black and white-colored dimensions with a push of a button. Think of the black dimension as “Space” with no gravity, and when you are in the white dimension you are on the ground. Thinking about it this way is what helped me get through the game at least.
So black is up, white is down, and switching between these two colors gives you momentum. You’ll need to use this momentum to jump from shape to shape, otherwise you’ll fall down, or up. So with this simple rule, Ovivo stands out from other platformers. With many platformers, the challenge comes in how you time your jumps. With Ovivo, the challenge comes with having to remember what’s up and what’s down as well as timing your jumps.
In this platformer you collect little dots of black and white instead of the usual coins from most other platformers. These little dots will sometimes be in hard to reach places, giving the game even more of a challenge. There is a bit of an element of exploration as well. Throughout each level, you’ll find three symbols if you do enough exploring. If you aren’t careful though you may breeze right past the symbols and have no way of going back without restarting the level. Thankfully, you don’t have to find all three to complete the level. You do however have to find them all to unlock a Platinum trophy.
Don’t let the simple palette of this game decieve you. The obstacles you encounter later on in the game really force you to focus and put your puzzle platforming abilities to the test. The game does a good job of introducing you to these new obstacles and at no point did I feel like it was throwing something at me unfairly.
Since platformers aren’t my favorite genre, and I’ve played short minimalist games in the past… I thought I had seen all of what the game had to offer by the third level. What kept me going was seeing the intricate artwork that the level consists of once you complete it.
Traveling through not just obstacles, but an actual work of art, made me want to finish the game. Which is great because the complexity of the movements seemed to have ramped up with the intricacy of the artwork. What was once simple slopes and some loops, soon turned into moving platforms, spiral mazes, and spikes. Unfortunately I can’t give too much more detail, because it would spoil the fun of discovering all the new artwork and the way you have to navigate those obstacles.
Though platformers aren’t my favorite kind of video game, Ovivo really made me have an appreciation for them. Out of the platformers I have played – Ovivo in its simplicity of style but complexity of design has left me with the impression that it’s as pure as a platformer could be. Maybe even the purest. I guess I’ll have to play more platformers to find out. Ovivo succeeds in making me want to do just that. Which is why I think anyone, not just fans of platformers, should pick up Ovivo and experience it for themselves.
You can find Ovivo on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, iOS, and Android for $6.99.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this game from the developer.