During these first two years of teh Switch’s lifespan the eShop has been literally overwhelmed with puzzle and platformer games. from games like The Witness where you play on an island full of puzzles to platformers like Celeste that has a great background story that guides you. The Switch has seen plenty of varied puzzle platformers. And then there is Ovivo, which is a bit in the middle. The game is IzHard’s first work, a tiny development team born in cold Russia.
In Ovivo the controls are reduced to the bare minimum: with the joypad and one button used, respectively we move and make Ovo, the protagonist of the title, jump. Black and white are the colors present in the game and not by chance, since they represent where the force of gravity will push us. In the white Ovo goes down, in black he goes up. In the game there are also means of transport as a kind of balloon, mobile platforms, fixed and much more.
Once I had become accustomed to the game mechanics, I immediately dived into the game world. We are not really faced with real puzzles, but with logic puzzles. Carefully select the most suitable route to take, calculate the exact times in which to jump and change platforms. The level design of Ovivo has literally conquered me, not so much stylistically, but because of its general complexity. In fact, the game world is not built from realistic textures but from real 2D pictures. Paintings that are shown in all their splendor once the level is completed, thanks to a general framing that allows you to observe the whole road made.
Several times I was astonished to admire the greatness of every single painting I faced, so much so as to ask myself what the amount of work was necessary to create what appears on the screen. Accomplice to this spell, I must admit, it is also the soundtrack: the songs are all original, very suitable for the particular atmosphere of the game. To be able to pass undamaged it will take some practice. As the jumping required to reach the end needs to be very precise.
Obviously we must not only move to the right and left, but also avoid the dangers. Because yes, in Ovivo you can also die. Moving from terrible and ingenious machines of death to the most innocuous of thorns, Ovo always lives on the threshold of danger.
Ovivo at a certain point however makes you question what is all happening, there is no guiding voice, no text line. Everything is undoubtedly all too minimal, but the choice goes well with the context. According to the developers, in fact, the story must be interpreted personally: Ovivo is Ovo’s adventure or the story of a world that is falling apart, crushed by who knows what threat (maybe even supernatural)? An answer that must necessarily be given once you get to the credits, which are reached after three or four hours depending how fast you can manoeuvre through the levels.
Despite being a practically complete game in terms of mechanics and level design, Ovivo is a rather difficult product to promote. Personally, I found the longevity to be quite small, not so much for the overall duration, mostly for a series of shortcomings: with a few more months of work it would have been possible to add a selector of difficulties, some extra modes and collectible items. There is the possibility to perform more runs, to complete the levels as best as possible but once the various logical puzzles spread along the route have been resolved, the longevity is reduced even more. A pity but considering that it is the first work of a newborn development team, I am quite sure that in the future they will be able to achieve something more complete. Even the minimalism with which Ovivo is built, completely devoid of any kind of on-screen interface and menu texts, is perhaps really excessive.
Ovivo is not a bad game or even a half game. It is a title full of charm, built using a series of references to some cultures that certainly deserve a chance for those who love the genre. But always remember where the game comes from and above all its genesis: born by chance, it became a “commercial” product out of passion, the title represents a good first work. If someone is able to go beyond the too minimalist style, the lack of collectibles and other game modes, Ovivo can be considered an interesting alternative to puzzle games and platforms that the public is now used to.
Ovivo is a beautifully crafted game, but one that will be most fun for those who like puzzle platformers.