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Video Game / Owlboy

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Owlboy is an indie game by the Norwegian indie developer D-Pad Studio. It is a platformer with a mixture of action and puzzles, starring a young owl named Otus, and his various Gunner partners. It is notable for many things: its absolutely beautiful pixel art, interesting concept, and staggering 9 years of development time which began in 2007. The game was released on November 1, 2016 for PC, with a Nintendo Switch port launching on February 13th, 2018, and PS4 and Xbox One versions following on April 10th, 2018.

The story kicks off when Otus's village of Vellie is attacked by Sky Pirates, led by Captain Molstrom, who steal an ancient Artifact of Doom. Otus and his friend Geddy enter into hot pursuit of the pirates, and end up entrenched in a mystery that reveals much about their World in the Sky and the Owls, an ancient race of mystical precursors.

This game provides examples of:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: You don't actually BUY items from Buccanary; she merely gives you a new trinket when you've collected enough coins to impress her. However, to obtain the best item, you have to collect all of them.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: The Temple Guardian is a giant frog that Otus must run from. It turns to stone when Otus runs beneath a waterfall.
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: Refenced, as Alphonse apparently has a Skull he uses for acting.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: In the third phase of the fight with Solus.
  • An Aesop: Mistakes are never the end. You can make mistakes, as long as you seek to fix them and make the world a better place than when you entered it.
  • Anti-Villain: Solus. Though he intended to save the world from the destruction the owls caused, his inability to trust others led him to use deceit to gather the relics, resulting in Molstrom destroying Advent and the possible death of Otus.
  • Artifact of Doom: Three of them, created by the Owls, which provide incredible power. So much so that Captain Molstrom destroys the capital city of Advent after getting just one of them. It turns out they're for fueling the Anti-Hex.
  • The Atoner: Both Alphonse and Twig defect from the pirates upon being shown how terrible they really are.
  • Big Bad: The Pirate King Molstrom steals the Artifact of Doom and attempts to spread destruction through the world.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The bugs on the floating continent. Swarms of flesh-eating beasties that can get as big as your head. Fortunately they can't stand any source of light. But stay in the dark for any period of time and they'll start attacking.
  • Bird People: The Owls, of which Otus is a member of, are a race of owl-like humanoids who fly via cloaks that turn into wings.
  • Boss-Arena Idiocy: The Sky Pirates would've had Otus if not for those rocks hanging from the ceiling.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Anti-Hex is forged and cast, Molstrom is disintegrated, and the world's landmasses stop floating into space, instead returning safely to the sea below. Unfortunately, many people died in the quest to save the world, Advent is still destroyed, and it's left ambiguous if Otus survived casting the Anti-Hex. The final shot of the game is him falling to Earth while unconscious, revealing that the plan worked by showing landmasses sitting in the ocean, resting peacefully.
  • Campfire Character Exploration: Owlboy and the gang have a chance to camp on an island in Tropos next to a fire, where they spend the night talking about themselves and what's been going on.
  • Cape Wings: The cloaks that the descendants of the Owls wear all enable them to fly, even rookie Owls like Otus and Solus.
  • Cranium Ride: You will be riding on the head of the Lava Worm boss after you defeated it.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Solus. He's horribly clumsy and slow to trust people, but he has intimate knowledge of the ancient Owl culture, and how the Anti-Hex relics work. He uses this knowledge to great effect as the Final Boss.
  • Cynical Mentor: Asio. He treats poor Otus horribly, even beating him on occasion. This is deconstructed, as this style of teaching has left Otus very sensitive and without much self-esteem. Asio apologizes in an optional scene before the ascent to the Mesosphere, making it clear that he loves Otus. Asio even admits that he's failed as a teacher.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After Alphonse is defeated, he's happy to cooperate with Otus. Geddy isn't so keen on the idea, though. The same thing happens with Twig; Geddy is so angry that he temporarily leaves the party.
  • Dirty Coward: At one point when infiltrating the pirate fleet, you encounter the leader of the demolition squad, who provides absolutely no assistance whatsoever and leaves you to rescue his teammates alone. Subverted though if you later talk to the teammates you rescued and learn that he was actually an upstanding guy who just couldn't handle the stress of the situation in that moment. Also, he didn't survive the destruction of Advent.
  • Does Not Like Guns: Otus can't use weapons, so he'll need to carry people who can.
  • Dual Boss: Both Sky Pirates fight you together, but only one attacks at a time.
  • Flunky Boss: The giant Gawk, who arrives with a swarm of smaller Gawks. The Monkey King also attacks this way, sending up to seven enemies at you at once.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The Loop (whatever it is) is so unsettling that simply publishing the theory of its existence caused widespread fear, distress and riots among the Owls.
  • Handicapped Badass: Anne. While her broken leg renders her unable to walk and Otus unable to use his other companions or pick up items, her cane attack hits a large area and can deflect projectiles and wallop enemies Geddy and Alphonse's guns can't touch.
  • Heroic Mime:
    • Otus, who can only respond to questions with chirping. He's mocked for this, and it causes him a great deal of strife, as he's actually mute in the story as well, not just for Silent Protagonist purposes.
    • During the vision scene at the end of the game, he finally speaks (presumably because he's an embodied spirit).
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Twig is introduced as some kind of spider, but he turns out to actually be a stick bug pretending to be a spider through a costume and some kind of web-like weapon.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: He wasn't dying, merely too injured to continue, but Solus infuses the power of the Owl Relics into Otus to bring him back to life, and allow him to activate the Anti-Hex in his stead.
  • Involuntary Group Split: Near the start of the game, in pursuit of the troublemaker, Otus is separated from Geddy by a cave-in.
  • Kill Enemies to Open: Clearing all enemies in some areas will grant you a treasure chest
  • MacGuffin Guardian: The Guardian of the Owl Temple, apparently.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Solus arranges for the pirates to gather the relics for him so he can activate the Anti-Hex. Unfortunately, this leads the pirates to destroy Advent and end countless lives. Solus likely sees this sacrifice as unavoidable, because he can't trust others to help him.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Whatever the Loop is, it's definitely this. Just the knowledge that it even exists tormented the Owls, and drove their once prosperous civilization into the ground.
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Well, they're blind, cavedwelling, and enjoy a healthy diet of adventurers.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Loop. Whatever it supposedly is, its very theorized existence was enough to drive owl society to madness and war, to the point where they created a machine that would supposedly destroy it. However, this machine sent all of the world's landmass into the sky, doomed to float slowly into space as the world below remains an empty ocean. The runes on the walls may subtly hint that the Loop is a cycle of death and rebirth for the world.
  • Protagonist Title: The game's protagonist is an owl boy. Averted. The only time the phrase "owlboy" is used, it's in reference to Solus.
  • Rock Beats Laser: In the segment of the game where you have to carry Anne, your only method of attack is via the walking stick she's carrying. Said stick is capable of downing enemies that Geddy's pistol and Alphonse's shotgun can't even put a dent in.
  • Save Point: A sophisticated gentlemen fish. Makes no sense but... it's awesome. Replaced with autosaving in the release version.
  • Shadow Archetype: Solus, to Otus. Otus is bullied by his Sadist Teacher while Solus is belittled by his fellow students and disappointed mentor Strix; Otus does his best to respond to situations of danger with courage and heroism despite constantly being berated, while Solus resorts to deceit that leads to countless deaths in order to gather what he needs to save the world. Additionally, Otus remains open-minded and welcomes Alphonse and Twig into the party with open arms, despite their past actions. Solus is so unable to trust others, he refuses to even explain to Otus what he's doing, willing to fight because he's so certain Otus and the others won't trust him.
  • Sky Pirate: The game's antagonists consist of robotic pirates who sail in airships. As Alphonse explains, they used to be machines created by the Owls, but gained consciousness of their own.
  • Space Zone: The final area of the game, in the Mesosphere. Unlike other examples of this trope, this is the area where Otus is LEAST capable of aerial movement; the air is too thin for his wings to work. He can only use them to float downward slowly, which is essentially to the area's platforming. When the Hex takes final effect and the world crumbles, the lack of gravity lets him fly up to where Solus awaits.
  • Swallowed Whole: The fate of those who gets caught by the gnomes.
  • Taken for Granite: You can turn Molts (Wolf like enemies that breathe fire) in to stone by pouring water on them.
  • Temple of Doom: The Owl Temple isn't the safest place in the world, but much of the danger seems to come from a monster infestation.
  • To Be Continued: At the end of the Demo.
  • True Companions: Otus and Geddy. From the very start Geddy is a huge supporter of Otus through his mistreatment by Asio, Fib and Bonacci, and throughout the adventure their bond only grows, to the point where Geddy is willing to steal a pirate ship and fly it directly into Molstrom's face just to return to him.
    • Otus and Alphonse become this after the time they spend together in the Owl Temple. Even when Geddy abandons the party temporarily for their forgiving of Twig, Alphonse stays loyally by Otus' side.
    • It's implied Alphonse and Dirk were this before the events of the game. Dirk is outraged by Alphonse's betrayal, and rejects the idea of friendship when he realizes how much it hurts, to the point where he's willing to throw Twig out in his anguish. In his final moments, he remarks that it wasn't so bad having a friend.
  • The Unfought: Molstrom. Every time you think you're going to fight him, it's averted somehow. The first time, the party runs away. The second time, Molstron is destroyed by the Anti-Hex.
  • Underground Monkey: All types of gawks have a lumpy round body and bat wings. The difference between each types are shown in different colours with minor change occasionally.
  • Untrusting Community: Implied by Otus' vision in the introduction, but turns out to be untrue when the villagers treat Otus amicably. Solus, however, can't trust them and goes off on his own.
  • Video Game Flight: Otus can fly almost anywhere, except when under a waterfall and in the Space Zone, where the air is too thin.
  • World in the Sky: The entire world of Owlboy seems to be a bunch of floating islands. It's because the Hex, created by the Owls, started making them float. As Otus finds out later, they're still going up, towards outer space.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Several times throughout the story, one of Otus' allies tells him to flee while they buy them some time or hold the attacker off (usually Molstrom). However, every time it's invoked, it's interrupted either by some new distraction allowing everyone to escape, or the threat preventing anyone from escaping. Played straight with the Anti-Hex scene, where Geddy, Alphonse and Twig work together to literally hold back Molstrom so Otus can desperately crawl to the Anti-Hex and activate it.