Despite being well written, Ossuary proves to be an exercise in tedium.

By Artemis, Posted 09 Jun 2015

How long has it been since we've been so challenged by a game that we've had to take notes? Not looking up a walkthrough on how to go through the specific levels or to solve problems, but actually taking notes in order to get through the game? Ossuary is a game that forces you to do that, and whether that is a good thing, is ultimately up to the player. The game was developed by Gregory Avery-Weir and Melissa Avery-Weir, published by Future Proof Games, and it's a very deceptive title at first glance.

Ossuary looks like a horror game, and while it has horror game elements, it fits more in line with an adventure game with a lot of dialogue. Actually, most of the game's progression focuses on talking to every single creature in the entire game. That's how you progress: by uncovering the truth and having doors open for you there are puzzles that will require you to memorize certain patterns or, if you're really bad at memorization, write them down. This means that the player may be spending as much time at their keyboard as they will be frantically scribbling down what they believe the answer to a particularly devious creature's problem is.

Ossuary culinary advice

This both works and doesn't work because while it certainly does challenge the player, it also can be seen as frustrating as it may seem that certain puzzles are just difficult for the sake of being difficult, rather than testing the player's skills. Writing down nearly everything or taking screenshots is necessary, or you may find yourself slightly clueless, wondering where you need to go. The best thing to do is just to keep talking to people, recording questions and answers, hoping you'll be able to figure things out what and where everything is. The difficult part of the game isn't the puzzles themselves as much as it is their locations. Moreover, memorizing the environments and characters may seem arbitrary, but in the end they turn out to be very important. It's very reminiscent of a visual novel, which makes the way the game is set up very deceptive.

When you move around in Ossuary, the entire world seems like it's moving with you, and the way the camera focuses on your little two dimensional creatures is downright awful. At first it's fine and for smaller areas it works, but the camera seems to move with you in a very jostling, dizzying way. It's like the entire world is moving too, which is extraordinarily vomit inducing, and because of this Ossuary is very likely to get a player sick. Your main character moves too fast, like you're in a boat rocking back and forth with no way of getting out. This might have been intentional, to get you used to the feeling that this disorienting world is not normal, but while this is good in theory, any feature that makes players feel physically ill is probably a bad idea.

Ossuary tunnel

When it comes to its story, this is where Ossuary shines the brightest, and it seems to be where the developer put in the most effort. Your character falls into this palace of bones, and you have to urge the residents to give into a vice in order to save themselves from a corrupt virtue. The way the narrative is set up is very fascinating and makes one question thing like the nature of evil, the definition of sin and virtue and the consequences of free will. It's extraordinarily well-written and it's obviously a personal piece for the developers. If this was a novel, this would likely be a best seller and be the cause for many academic discussions. However, the problem is that it's wrapped up in a package that presents itself in a way that is almost beneath the writing. It's a case of the game's mechanical design not working well with the story. Aesthetically it looks fitting, but mechanically it doesn't work as well as it should.

The entire game is mostly black backgrounds with white characters. Sometimes there's a bit of red, sometimes a bit of brown, and it adds to the mood - a sort of limbo or purgatory, unable to escape. It builds up the atmosphere of the game quite nicely, giving you a sense of unease. The design of each of the characters looks rather peculiar and otherworldly, which is something the creator was intending to do. There is a small issue in that many of the creatures look similar, and it's somewhat easy to confuse them if you don't take special note of your surroundings. There could have been more variations in the appearances, perhaps more dark colors. That might sound odd, but the game is set up with a dark background with a very bright foreground which can work in theory, but in this case, it can also be disorienting which, admittedly, very well could have been the intent.

Ossuary is a title that is hard to really give a rating to, or even write a recommendation about. The absolute best part of the game is the writing, but you have to go through what feels like an immense amount of tedium in order to get to the real meat of the game. It's an amazing game in concept, just not as much in practice.

Angelina Bonilla, NoobFeed (@Twitter)

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General Information



Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Future Proof Games
Developer(s): Gregory Avery-Weir , Melissa Avery-Weir
Genres: 2D Top Down
Themes: Horror
Release Date: 2015-05-09

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