Monday, September 26, 2011

OIO Hands On

OIO is 3d side scrolling puzzle platformer for the PC, similar to how Little Big Planet looks, but indie sized. First thing I think when I see this game is what a weird name, but the name resembles the head of your character and it is also his name. You control a wooden character that uses the power of life to grow wooden beams off of plants. You travel through a world that seems to have stopped in time, a world that has many other wooden characters all of which are seemingly frozen. There isn't much information about the game, but luckily it has a decently long demo that I've played through to 100% competition. OIO is made by Uncanny Games, a French developer, and this is their first game. It was released on September 23rd and it costs $10.

Graphical Style
One of the first thing's I noticed about OIO is that the 3d meshes with the side scrolling aspects really well, creating a seemingly layered world that looks vibrant, alien and interesting. Unlike Little Big Planet, the world is not actually layered, you only have one layer to deal with, which could be for better or worse, especially since some people hate the different layers in Little Big Planet. The art style of OIO is pretty unfamiliar to me, but I find it to be very enjoyable despite how odd it is, even without the AAA budget. The later levels, that aren't in the demo, look especially impressive. They have levels that look to be out in the world, under the sky, with moving 3d objects all over the place. The levels in the demo all you have underground traversing through caves, and caves aren't the most exciting thing in the world, but they managed to make that environment at least slightly pleasing to the eye.

The purpose of each level is to collect these light orbs, of which there are one hundred in each level, plus there are three special maps to collect. The special maps reveal part of this level map that is shown between each level, revealing some history of the wooden people. There is a tutorial, which is polished, informative and appropriately timed. There aren't too many features to gameplay though, just movement related and how to use the powers of life. You use the powers of life to make wooden beams (I thought they were plants, but the website insists they are wooden beams) out of fertile areas. Each beam can have other beams grow off of it, up to three beams in total. The growing of beams and where to grow them from creates the complexity of the platforming of OIO. Like any platformer, you have to learn how to use your tools in difficult situations. Some examples of that are trying to figure out how to creates beams over large areas of spikes, or trying to learn how to create patterns of beams that will let you get into difficult to reach areas. When you try to create more than three beams, the set of three beams will disintegrate; one of the more advanced problems from the demo was trying to figure out how to make a new beam, a fourth beam, while using the beams that are about to disintegrate as a platform to get to that new beam.

OIO Launch Trailer on Vimeo

There doesn't seem to be a lot to OIO, but it does have some really solid challenging gameplay and an environment that seems to get continually more impressive throughout the story. The level of detail is impressive for an indie game and with that comes a lack of bugs or chunkiness. There are twelve level throughout the story, but I am uncertain of how lengthy that could be, seeing as how the first three levels took me about a hour. There are achievements, if you are into that kind of thing, and the history maps to find, both of which should add to it's length. If you like platformers and indie games, then check out the demo OIO on their main website, Desura or Gamersgate. The game has few ratings so far, but people are liking it. Give it a chance. It costs $10 and is available at Desura, Gamersgate, Impulse and the main website. Thanks for reading. 
Main Website:

-Written by Sean Cargle


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