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OVIVO (PC) artwork

OVIVO (PC) review

"Back to black. And then white again. Then black once more. Then white."

Ovivo isnít as humble as it initially wants you to believe. With no warning, no padding and no tutorial, youíre dumped right into the thick of it and forced to figure out the gameís mechanics and controls off your own back and on the fly. That might be a big ask, only Ovivo is commendably simple; you control a dot exploring a monochromic landscape and thereís only three buttons required to do that.

Left and right is pretty straight forward, but relying on this alone wonít get you very far. Roll only a few meters to your right and youíll reach an impasse: a steep slope you cannot surmount. You could stop there and chalk Ovivo up as a short, sharp, powerful message about accepting futility, or you could press the spacebar. Doing this changes the colour of your dot and has it melt into the floor, turning up into down and down into up -- meaning that once harsh slope is now a friendly decline, easily surpassed.

OVIVO (PC) image

Ovivo is primarily about establishing a flow; of abusing your ability to shift your polarity on whim in order to break the normal definition of physics. Turning a rise into a slope will help you bypass the simpler of obstacles, but changing colour during your descent at the right time will force the two conflicting gravitational planes to slingshot your dot out of one chromescape into the next. Which will help you travel to new platforms once out of reach. Sometimes you need to string a series of these feats together to get to where you want to go, but failing could drop you in a jagged surface. Or have you descend to your demise. Or ascend. Or both!

This never becomes a huge frustration, because Ovivo subscribes to the rapid fire respawn philosophy of games like Super Meat Boy, paired with fair-minded checkpoints that rarely place you outside particularly punishing set pieces to reattempt over and over. Itís a good fit for a game that loathes telling the player what to do, and the only way to advance its trial and error mindset without risking an endless stream of ragequits. Which is what makes its save function so bizarre. In short, it doesnít have one; you restart the game from scratch on every attempt. Ovivo isnít a particularly long game, but there are moments when perhaps a string of frustrating failures or a shortness of time lead you away from wanting or being able to play, and knowing that youíll have to go through the same sets of trials each and every time you want to take the challenge back up isnít particularly inspiring.

OVIVO (PC) image

There are a series of collectable objects in each level that, perhaps, helps warrant multiple attempts, but collecting them doesnít seem to do a lot. Thereís dots littered around the landscape, but these seem to exist mainly to give you an idea of the direction youíre supposed to head in. Of slightly more substance are glyphs, the first three of which trigger achievements and the final larger one exits you from the map. Itís only upon hitting that last glyph that Ovivo starts to look like it might be a little bit more than you were led to believe. The camera slowly pans back from the stage, and what seemed like a random parade of rolling terrain, spike pits and interspersed platforms becomes a more complete picture.

To Ovivoís credit, these complete pictures get just as little explanation as anything else the game offers up, leaving any suggested meaning entirely open to your interpretation. The gameís casual pace combined with a laid-back soundtrack and soothing, simple graphics promote a chilled experience, but it was these glimpses at the finalised stages that ultimately drove me on. I was curious to find out what might appear next, interested in what Ė if any Ė connection I could form between them all as a finished gallery. Itís a big strength of such an approach so open to interpretation that whatever meanings I might make could be completely different to anyone elseís. It serves up a clever artistic edge, making the game as a whole more than its preliminary casual puzzle beginnings might have suggested.

Ovivo isnít as humble as it initially wants you to believe.

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (May 21, 2017)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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A clever inside reference.


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