Oure (PS4) Review – Visually Stunning Boredom
Platforms: PS4 (Reviewed), PC
Developer: Heavy Spectrum
Release: 30th October 2017 (PS4) / November (PC)
Announced and released on Paris Games Week, Heavy Spectrum´s latest title Oure quickly caught the audience´s attention with its stunning visuals and great artstyle. Naturally, I need to find out if the creators of the Shadow of the Beast´s HD remake can deliver an experience as great as Journey or Abzu. Well … they couldn´t due to some horrible design choices, a damn shame, truly.
Oure tells the story of a boy with the ability to somehow transform into a dragon. Dreaming relentlessly of the endless skies, nights and mysterious titans he lives a life in peace until his parents decide to send him through a doorway into another dimension … or so. There his task is to calm the titans he dreamt of for so long and activate a giant tower … or at least that´s what I think it´s about.
Frankly, the premise of a child transforming into a dragon sounds interesting and looks great on first glance but Oure doesn´t understand that a story needs more than an idea. The whole plot is practical nonsense, a row of great sounding events or texts that simply don´t follow a greater, understandable meaning. For example, the game never tells you why these titans are so important or why he can transform into a dragon. Surely Journey had a very mystical story as well, which obviously was a great inspiration, but it told something through its metaphors, Oure doesn´t. Every event, sentence or cutscene seems to be written to sound great, not to make sense. At the end, no question is answered and we practically learned nothing about the world.
Unfortunately, the plot isn´t Oure´s biggest problem, by far. The actual gameplay suffers from several major issues able to destroy not only the beautiful illusion but the experience itself.
At the beginning the giant skies seem so free and the first steps as a dragon feel so relaxed, then the first blue orb is collected and the game basically starts to go downhill. The moment this little tiny pop-up, that doesn´t even fit into the game visually, casually tells you how the world is filled with 750 of them, doesn´t only destroy the illusion created by the opening but also the fun. Who would like to collect 750 orbs, even if they´re mostly optional? You´re pressured and shoved into the everlasting collection of blue orbs. Redundant or boring are great ways to describe these passages.
Even when enough orbs are collected to call a titan and start the main part of the game, it feels incredible clunky and scripted. First of all, to actually call one, it´s necessary to climb up a tower, which of course can´t be done manually but through a little cutscene, because it´s great to see it more than half a dozen times. Once a titan appears, they need to be freed by destroying crystals scattered around their body. Since every titan is different, the approach to reach them is altered as well. From a rotating one to a more puzzle oriented, there are many variations, which is Oure´s biggest and probably only gameplay strength.
Sadly, most of the different mechanics are destroyed by the unresponsive controls. Due to the long body it takes a lot time for the model to actually execute the moves to their fullest or react in a precise way. Combined with the many passages where the game requires you to navigate to small points, often on a time limit, it can feel incredible slow. The actual gameplay works against the game, destroying a lot of the titans potential. In addition to the never-changing puzzles needed to destroy these crystals, Oure feels so damn repetitive in every aspect and situation.
Last but not least, the only really positive thing about it are the visuals. Gliding through the giant sea of clouds, which look fluffier and better than in nearly ever other game, combined with the beautiful light design and mood, Oure is a beautiful game. The titans are also very unique in their design, resembling different enemies but built entirely of geometric figures. The artstyle and world looks an feels very similar to masterpieces like Journey with its different objects and creatures. When a sea of cubes pop out of the ocean of clouds I simply had to stop and embrace the beauty.
Visually, Oure is both beautiful and entirely unique, presenting a world full of great designs and surprises. Sadly, most of it is buried in a sea of horrible design choices like the sheer mass of blue orbs, unsurprising gameplay design, redundant puzzles and the clunky, heavily guided presentation. Nothing feels great, captivating or worth staying for. With no clear goal or sense behind anything, Oure fails at bringing its ideas to life.
[A Review Code was provided by Heavy Spectrum]