Developer: Heavy Spectrum Limited
Publisher: Heavy Spectrum Limited
Platform: PS4, Steam
Price: $19,99 USD on both platforms
Release Date: November 14th, 2017
Last year’s Paris Game Week’s Sony presentation was one of the best panels of the year. During the pre-show, a short segment that aired on stream before the large event, we were shown game trailers for several smaller games that were becoming available on PS4. Most of the content shown on that time slot were PSVR showcases, but one outlier caught my attention: a small studio game named Oure.
The game begins with a short monologue from the young, nameless female protagonist. You have dreams of a world in the clouds, one that you could not possibly know of. Your parents then take you to a mysterious door, which leads you to the cloud world from your dreams.
To put things shortly, you are the child of prophecy and you must resolve all the world’s woes. Not knowing much at first is part of the experience, one of your goals is to collect a bunch of stuff, some of which will reveal little bits of information that explain what’s going on and what the world you’re trying to save is like.
All gameplay occurs atop the clouds surrounding a large tower. Your dragon has a limited amount of stamina, consumed when ascending or accelerating. The clouds act as platforms, allowing you to jump to higher and higher areas. You cannot penetrate or cut into clouds, but you can dive shallowly into them, recovering stamina when doing so.
Following the game’s storyline involves chasing pillars of light to find Titan towers and activating them. For each of the 8 Titans, you’re taken to a separate zone that contains only you and the Titan. Once there, you must solve a puzzle that liberates your target, after which you get a short cutscene and another pillar of light to follow, leading to the next Titan tower.
While I’m against these types of comparisons, it’s difficult not to think back to Shadow of the Colossus. It’s basically the same formula, except with non-combat puzzles instead of climbing and stabbing. The puzzles themselves aren’t very exciting, but overall the execution for the main story segments was good.
The most fun I had with Oure was grabbing every single collectible. One of your abilities is to perform a sonar ping that reveals every collectible within a very large radius. Using this as your only clue, you must collect a mind-boggling amount of orbs. There are 750 Blue Orbs to gather, not including the power-ups.
Finally, you can keep track of everything you’ve already collected by checking back the Gallery on the pause menu. Unlocking a row or column will unlock a piece of concept art for your appreciation.
Sound is minimalistic. Music only plays during Titan action sequences, and continues to play after you’ve finished them for a very short time. Most of the time, the game has no music, ambient sounds only. The only sounds you hear are the wind blowing, orbs being collected, and the sound of your dragon piercing the clouds.
Although I usually would put a lot of emphasis on a video game’s music, I believe the nearly silent sound direction was the best option for this game. The game’s overall sensation of solitude and isolation were enjoyable, and as strange as it might seem, quietude greatly added to the experience.
The clouds look absolutely stunning in Oure. That’s a given, considering that the entire premise of the game is to swim playfully in the clouds. It’s a bit difficult to show with pictures alone but the modeling and lighting used to render the clouds is perfect.
When describing certain games, players will sometimes use a very abstract term: Comfy. I’ve seen it used to describe games from about every genre. What it means is that the atmosphere of a game is, in itself, a pleasurable experience. It’s comparable to the feeling described by those that drive cars and motorbikes for pleasure. While I understood the concept, I had never experienced a ‘comfy’ game personally. That is, until I played Oure.
Sitting on the couch, almost completely silent and collecting orbs in the clouds. What would otherwise sound like a boring, completionist chore became an amazing experience. Video Games have given me a very large range of emotions over the years, but it was the first time I experienced serenity over a game.
Although I felt rewarded plenty from finding the hundreds of orbs in Oure, the game fails to actually reward you proportionally for all the Blue Orbs you gather. You use them to activate the Titan towers, but otherwise your only reward is to clear a column/row in the Gallery. I wish there had been more uses for the Blue Orbs, considering there’s a disproportionately large amount of them.
Furthermore, for a game that sells itself as a puzzler, the actual puzzles in the game were far too easy. Doing a New Game+ enables an option to make them harder, but I feel like this should have been the difficulty on the initial playthrough. The first playthrough’s challenges are far too easy!
Oure is what we call a hidden gem: an excellent game that not enough people have played or heard about. Its premise is a dream-like experience that’s unique. It’s an experience that could only be told through a video game, and it accomplishes everything it set out to do with mastery. More games should be like Oure. It’s the type of work that ascends video games to a higher standard of quality and storytelling, where they deserve to be.