Ode - Review

Author: Marco "Uomoespo" Esposto
Date: 2020-07-31 00:30:31
Ode is one of those things that come suddenly and you don't expect. Accustomed to months of previews and trailers it's always strange when the announcement and publication of a game coincide, even if in this case it is a "small" product. The Ubisoft team behind the game is that of the Reflections guys, made up of about fifteen people, the same ones who took care of Grow Home. Ode has all the air of a project born of love, in the name of experimentation and fun. A small sensory experience that satisfies sight and hearing ... and it is a pity that the release has been so limited (the game is only available on PC and only on Uplay).

But what is Ode? The game puts us in the shoes of a plump starlet (who walks on tips and jumps) fallen from the sky and whose purpose is to return, bringing with him other stars, to give him back that brightness that belongs to him. The game world consists of only four levels, each lasting about half an hour. The first is a cave reminiscent of a dried up seabed, the second a kind of volcanic crater, the third a series of islands and the fourth another cave, this time quite similar to an alien planet.

In each area there is a large green jelly, surrounded by other smaller jellies which, if touched, turn yellow. Once all the small jellies turn green, even the giant one follows them, exploding and releasing what we could call "solid music" that bounces throughout the level creating a melody destined to characterize the environment. Each music is different and once made to "explode" all of them mix together forming a real soundtrack, in a riot of sounds and bangs. At that point, in fact, each element on the screen will start to move in time with the music. Obviously, continuing with the adventure each jelly will be more difficult to detonate, since finding the smaller ones starts to become a business.

But how do the other stars take you out of a level? First of all these are in fact simple luminous spheres which, once touched, attach themselves to the star, as if they were adhesive. Sphere after sphere, what is formed is in all respects the tail of a comet. The spheres can be lost due to some bump, fall or too risky jump, but with a single click it is easy to get them back immediately.

In addition to the jump button, in fact, there are only two other commands available, assigned to the left and right mouse buttons. By keeping the latter pressed, the spheres are attracted as a magnet would, with the pressure of the left one shoots them far away almost as our star star has just exploded. Exploding and flinging the spheres away can help to hit some otherwise unattainable green jellies or that appear when we position ourselves at a specific point and disappear if we move from there. Activate all the jellies of a level you can go further or waste time enjoying the music and hopping here and there looking maybe the balls left behind.

To reach the next stage just follow the wind and the luminous lines that appear once all the jellies are detonated. Following the wind you are sucked into space, which will light up as many as the spheres collected and these will remain "stuck" to the cosmos. Except for our star friend, who will fall again to continue the search. The whole game does not have interfaces, has no timer and no type of score. Having multiple stars with you only increases the brightness of the sky when completing it all. No frustration, no damnation for completism, only maximum relaxation. To help our friend there are special liquids, scattered in puddles here and there for the levels, each of different colors and each with a particular power to give them once they are immersed in them. There is a specific power per level, starting with the second. Let's go see them together.

If you are interested in finding out for yourself what the game has to offer (also given its brevity) you can skip directly to the end of the review. If you want to know more about the powers that can be used in the various levels, read on.

In the second level, the volcanic crater, there are pools of orange liquid. Entering it allows, besides showing off a new color, to jump higher, making the starlet and its tail take the movements and the shape of a caterpillar. Being able to jump higher is vital to reach the higher platforms where the green jellies of the level are hidden. The second power, in the third level, is the one that most amused me. The green liquid present here actually transforms us into one of those colored elastic springs to which entire stairways are usually made because after the first push they move on their own (or at least we try, I never did). Here, however, becoming a spring keeps you in total control, so it is fun to move in this way on the rocky scenario, step by step, reaching otherwise inaccessible areas.

The third power, present in the red pools of the fourth and last level, makes us become a wheel, giving us much more speed of movement and the ability to glide in the longest jumps. In this particular phase, full of lights and with several things on the screen, the game has slowed down, forcing me to repeat some jumps, something that had never happened in the previous levels. In the final part then a strong wind suspends our star in the air, giving us almost the impression that it is flying. One of the most poetic moments in the game.

Despite the absolutely relaxed atmosphere, you need a minimum of effort to color all the jellies. Nothing impossible, but you will find a minimum of challenge (especially in the third level). Of course, everything is resolved briefly and the impression of being a tech demo for its own sake Ode can give it. However, the game is sold at a very low price, less than a movie ticket on balance, so why not let yourself be carried away for a couple of hours on a journey between music and the stars?

I played Ode on an Asus K31CD-DE001T PC connected to a Philips 6000 32PFS6402 / 12 32 ", thanks to a code provided by Ubisoft. I finished the main adventure and the bonus level in a couple of hours.