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Oscura Review

By , on June 27, 2012


Oscura
Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5

PROS

  • A very striking visual style combined with ethereal music.
  • Lots to do to fully complete each level.

CONS

  • The jumping takes a while to get used to, and never quite feels right when changing directions.

VERDICT

A fantastical platformer with a touch control scheme that works more often than not. A must for fans of the genre.


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Silhouette can make for a very striking and distinct artistic style in games. What makes things even better is when there's a thematic reason for such a choice. In the world of Oscura, light keeps all manner of nasty creatures at bay. When the lighthouse shatters, its crystals spread across the land, shrouding everything in darkness. Now these nasties are out and wandering. Bearing a lit torch, it's your job to light the lanterns of each level (which act as checkpoints), collect all crystal shards, and return light back to the land.

The control scheme makes use of tapping the screen with either one or two fingers. Touching either the right or left of the screen will move your character in that direction. Jumping will occur when a second finger is pressed down. The time spent pressing indicates the height of the jump, and the whole system is quite intuitive for precise platforming. Where things break down a little is when you have to change directions with your jumps or jump from a small platform. Because you need to have one finger down to jump, you almost always need a bit of room to run up, and small platforms don't exactly allow this leeway. This plus changing the direction of your jump (either in mid air or after a landing) takes some finicky maneuvering with releasing and pressing fingers. It's not a deal breaker, but it does take away from the flow of moving through a level.

Luckily checkpoints are common, usually right before tricky sections involving spikes, gears, moving platforms, and areas sprinkled with enemies for good measure. A level is completed when you reach the giant glowing crystal at the end before you are graded on your performance. This criteria includes the time taken to complete the level, the number of times you died, and collection of all the crystal shards and the four secret gears. This ensures that fans have something extra to do once all the levels are completed.

The art style was mentioned at the start and it is indeed striking. Background colors shine through the blocked out main character, the enemies, and everything that is interacted with. The enemies themselves are eerie creatures sort of reminiscent of the alien lifeforms from the movie 'The Mist' (or perhaps that's just a personal observation). The soundtrack is other-worldly and ethereal, and overall Oscura has killer presentation.

The only barrier to entry is either your love or hatred of platforming, and whether the control scheme suits your liking. Otherwise, this is recommended for all who are looking for something visually striking with solid play mechanics.

Screenshots

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