Oblitus is a roguelike 2D platformer with a serious and dark theme designed by a 22 year old game developer named Connor Ullmann and published by Adult Swim. If it interests you, I’d give Ullmann’s website a visit as he’s got some pretty awesome art over there. Together with his team, Ullmann has managed to create a simple, challenging and fun game. Its functionality is limited, however; the game has no save feature, no graphical options, and a 4:3 fixed ratio. But that definitely shouldn’t put you off because for what the games lacks in functionality, it more than makes up for in gameplay.
Oblitus includes a tutorial that introduces you to the basics of gameplay. You can run, jump, roll, leap, stab, throw, block and parry—and plenty more moves and combinations are learned throughout the game. The tutorial doesn’t beat around the bush; it shows you the controls and then throws you straight into the game.
The controls are fairly self explanatory as well: WASD to move or the left control stick if you’re using a gamepad. It doesn’t take long to pick up and jump straight into the game. And let me tell you, the animation is beautiful. It’s so fluid and just so well-made. I spent the first few minutes of my game just running around and appreciating the aesthetics.
The S key acts as a roll. It is fundamentally useless. Rolls often are in games, but for a game like Oblitus tis is even more so because it doesn’t get you anywhere quick enough and the game doesn’t possess enough dimensions for it to be effective! Which begs the question of why it was even put in? I guess you could roll backwards as an enemy swipes for you and then quickly hit them with your spear… but there’s not many enemies that die from one hit of the spear, leaving yourself vulnerable to a second attack.
For combat, you’ve got a two defensive abilities and two offensive abilities. For the most part, it seemed most effective to spend all my time either stabbing or throwing my spear. The defensive abilities have limited use. As such, combat can feel a little same-y at times: stab, stab, stab, dead. Rinse, repeat, and survive. The combat still requires a bit of thought, though. You won’t get far unless you’re clever with how your approach a fight, particularly a boss fight. The boss fights are intense and impossible to do without preparation. This game will challenge you, and you will die.
On the subject of death, do you remember what I mentioned earlier about their being no save feature? I meant it. There is no save feature. There is no autosave feature. There is no checkpoint feature. If you die, you die. You are dead. If you want to try again you can start a whole new game, but don’t expect to find everything as you left it; the whole game is procedure-generated. Each playthrough will have a different map. Oblitus spares no mercy.
However, with the procedure-generated levels, it also doesn’t make it very clear on where to go. I think this is both a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing for starters because I felt like a total rebel going left instead of the traditional right. I need to go talk to someone? Well I’ll head in the other direction! As it turned out, I went in the correct direction and found who I was supposed to speak to, which made me wonder what would have happened if I’d headed the other way. Yet, it is also obviously a bad thing; it’s no fun when you have no idea what to do. This game does have an open-world feeling to it, but there are times when you just feel a little bit directionless.
After dying at the first boss on my first playthrough and beginning another game, I noticed that the levels were procedurely generated; the level was not quite as I remembered it. However, it’s not completely random. I noticed certain parts remained very similar, more like the levels were randomly constructed using the same building blocks that fit together cleverly, kind of like a pseudo-procedure generated level. The result is that some parts felt very similar to the first playthrough, while others felt very different.
There are many types of enemies in Oblitus. This is great, because there’s so many indie games out there that stick to very basic enemy variations and it’s easy to feel bored with a game like that… but Oblitus defies this stereotype, plunging you into the deep end with small, fast creatures that like to jump on your neck to attack. Then there’s creatures that stand taller than you, walking around with a shield and requiring no less than 3 spear-throws to somewhere OTHER than the shield to kill them (which can take some practice to hit them). I also have seen birds that very menacingly swoop down just as you’re in an area that doesn’t offer lots of space, those pose a challenge. Oh and did I mention? There’s some huge bosses that WILL put you in the ground if you’re not quick and accurate about disposing of them. Hint: don’t overthink the boss fight. It’s a platformer emphasising on spear chucking, your spear WILL do the job.
Like with many games of this genre, you can collect powerful items that are dotted around the map that you need to look for. There isn’t a notification or announcement that you’ve got a drop somewhere. They must be found through exploration. This is a great idea as it encourages you to explore the world around you. I’m finding more and more lately that games feel more restrictive these days and far too interested in spoon-feeding you the story. I don’t mind that approach as I prefer storyline-based games anyway, but it’s refreshing to be presented with a game that expects you to do the legwork. I can never really get very far in the game, but I managed to get a fire spear just before the first boss which seemed to add a bit of damage, although not as much as I hoped.
I’m not sure whether I think the whole ‘if you’re dead you’re dead’ approach is a great idea. It certainly does make the game more interesting and adds to the intensity of the experience, especially when you’re deeper into the game than you were last time you tried. On the other hand, I’d have preferred it to be the default option, with an option in the settings for that to be turned off and respawns to be added. This is so if you are finding the game a bit too difficult (I think I probably could beat it, but it’d take me a lot of tries) you can experience the storyline (which grabbed my attention immediately) without the stress of having to start all over again for the umpteenth time. Ullmann, if you’re reading. please add an option like that for us noobs.
AUDIO AND GRAPHICS
The audio and graphics are both pretty faultless. This is a hard section to write, admittedly, because I genuinely love everything about the look and sound of the game. The soundtrack booms in the background as you fight against the many enemies and fits it ridiculously well. The graphics are quite cartoony, which is nice, it feels the only sort of way a platformer should look, really. The mood of the game is perfect, it isn’t too light but it isn’t too dark so it holds its balance well. Even something as simple as using different colours for different enemies is nice, as it keeps everything feeling fresh enough so that it doesn’t come across repetitive.
The customization of the graphics settings draw it back, though. There is no way to change the resolution of the game. You can fullscreen the game, however this extends it beyond the size of my monitor, meaning part of the screen isn’t visible.
The only fault I can think of that fits in this section, and it may just be something only I’ve experienced, but it’s quite stop-starty when there’s a boss fight or a new area being loaded. It doesn’t happen smoothly, the screen quickly flashes to black, then you see the logo of the game and then suddenly you’re back where you were and a boss has spawned or you’re in a new area, but it doesn’t feel a very nice, easy transition. This could just be something only I’ve experienced but my PC doesn’t struggle to load it at all so I’m assuming it is a fault with the game. That’s a minor thing anyway, apart from that the Audio & Graphics are perfect in my eyes.
That Clear Save is really confusing, too. You can’t save the game, so why is it there?
In conclusion, Oblitus is a fantastic game by Ullman and his team and I genuinely think they should be very proud of themselves. It’s a good sign of what’s to come from this team if they’ve accomplished this for their first official release. Apart from the addition of a respawn or difficulty and smoother transitions when entering boss fights/ a new area, Oblitus stands very highly and I certainly don’t think I’ll be giving up on it any time soon. I intend to play this whenever I have time and keep trying until I beat the game.
- Audio and graphics are perfect in their own right
- Controls feel mostly fluid
- Good value for money
- Decent replayability
- Respawn option would make it more accessible
- Rolling is useless
- Transitions to boss/ new areas feel clunky