Oblitus Review

A look at the punishing indie Metroidvania from developer Connor Ullmann and Adult Swim Games.

Oblitus for PC

Of the many “play-style genres” out there, few seem to capture the essence of what many of us consider gaming to be better than the so-called ‘Metroidvania.’ Equal parts skill, luck, exploration, and combat, Oblitus is the latest of this multifaceted group that I’ve had the pleasure of playing. Fairly simple in form and design, Oblitus still has a lot to offer, and enough variety to each attempt that the game’s challenging one-life system isn’t too off-putting. Rife with dangers, problem-solving, and difficult battles, Oblitus shows up with a bit of something for just about everyone, but with so much going on, does it all hold together during play?

Oblitus tells the story of a masked, spear-wielding creature that, according to the official site, is named Parvus. While I’m not entirely sure what it is, our humanoid champion is pretty versatile; in addition to basic movement, jumping, and dodge-rolling, our hero bears a shield and the ability to either thrust or throw his trusty weapon. When thrown, the spear takes a couple of seconds to return to its owner. Finding power-ups along the way can reduce this return time, increase jumping or rolling abilities, and even light the spear on fire for additional damage-dealing. The spear can also be lit temporarily using torches or other sources of flame found in the world.

oblitus spear thrust

For most common enemies, getting in close to stab is the best method. Rolling and jumping to get the right angle and avoid being hurt definitely make it the preferred tactic.

The world of Oblitus is a strange one with caverns, mountains, and some element of randomness. While the general structure of the world remains pretty constant, some areas may change design on a given playthrough, and you may find different enemies or items as you explore. This bit of shaking things up for each go-round keeps play interesting, and players will get plenty of chances to see it in action as death results in starting from scratch. While it’s a bit tedious if you’ve managed to put together a good set of gear, this one-chance mentality drives a lot of what the game is really about; meeting with story elements that reference just how often failure is the result of Parvus’ attempts to learn about itself and its world.

Oblitus Spear Throw

For some situations, the throw is the only real option. While waiting for your weapon to return can seem like an eternity, the precision with which this can be done is excellent.

Oblitus also makes plenty of options available for players. Allowing either gamepad or mouse-and-keyboard controls, along with its open-world nature, there’s plenty of ways to get in on the action. I tried both control methods, and generally leaned towards the mouse/keyboard combo as it allows for much more precise spear-tossing. While I can’t deny I’m still better at dodging, running, and jumping with a gamepad, this slight advantage was enough to take me out of my comfort zone. The only option I found really lacking as of my playing was that the game does not, for some reason, sport a fullscreen mode. It’s ultimately a small gripe, but I definitely prefer breaking the bonds of windowed play.

Oblitus Giant Boss

No matter your preferred combat method, the game’s massive boss fights will give you a run for your money.

Oblitus puts a whole lot of content into a small, tightly-made package. The overall aesthetic and backing music are great, and the constant threat of death taking all of your accomplishments away drives play very well. While the punishing style may not be for everyone, there’s plenty of content and variation to make the $14.99 price on Steam ($11.99 on sale as of this writing) worth it. While the simple design and play may make for an innocent veneer, the reality of the game’s difficulty makes it a challenge for veterans and newcomers alike. If you’ve been looking for a challenging, engaging Metroidvania with Dark Souls-esque difficulty, look no further than Oblitus.

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