Friday, November 3, 2017

Oure Review (PS4)

Debuting during Sony’s 2017 Paris Games Week showcase, and releasing the same day, Oure made a heck of a first impression as the next beautiful adventure game cut from the same cloth as Journey, Abzu, or RiME. Featuring a child that can change into a dragon at will and freely and playfully fly through the clouds while chasing down massive Titans, Oure definitely seems like it has all of the makings of the next indie hit. The execution, however, falters a bit. The camera is poor, the controls are wonky, the battles against the Titans are frustrating, and the overwhelming amount of videogame-y collectibles littering the world is, frankly, off-putting. Oure still has some moments of beauty and wonder and fun but actually getting to them is a slog. See our full Oure PS4 review for all of the details.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Heavy Spectrum Limited
  • Developer: Heavy Spectrum Limited
  • ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Pros: Wonderful sense of flying; pretty clouds; massive Titans
  • Cons: Titan fights are awful; overwhelming amount of “stuff”; blurry
  • MSRP: $20

Oure is the tale of a child – in my game it was a little redheaded girl, but a boy is also available – living in a dark and depressing city but who dreams of flying through the clouds. One day her parents take her to a tower with a doorway made of light and, as the child passes through, they end up in the world of bright fluffy clouds from their dreams. Not only are they in a new world in the clouds, but they can also turn into a Chinese dragon at will and fly around. Their new task is to free eight massive Titans hidden among the clouds and bring peace back to their city.

Once you actually take the controls, Oure is very promising at the start. You can instantly turn into a dragon and fly around and it feels pretty good. Those initial good feelings don’t last long, however, as once the real game starts the problems start adding up. One of the first things you’re asked to do is hold the square button to reveal your next objective – the first Titan. This blast of energy not only reveals the location of the Titan, or rather the tower you need to reach to call it, but also blinking indicators for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of collectibles scattered around the world as well. You only need to collect 140 of the 700+ scattered blue orbs to summon all 8 Titans and beat the game, but you’ll need a lot more to access the myriad of upgrades to your stamina and other abilities.

The problem with this is that all of the potential magic and wonder of the game is immediately gone from that moment on as Oure becomes just another videogame full of stuff to collect. Journey and Abzu are so great because they’re subtle and exploration is organic. Your attention is naturally drawn to the proper path and your next objective is clear without screaming in your face about it. Oure is pretty much the opposite. You’re overwhelmed with stuff and the game feels like a chore right from the start. Like I said, you don’t have to collect all of the orbs to finish the game, but I argue that the experience would have been exactly the same – or even greatly improved – by not having the orbs at all.

For the most part, your time with Oure is split into two parts – flying around and collecting orbs or finding upgrade platforms, and fighting Titans. For the former, the controls feel okay. You can fly fairly freely wherever you want, though you only have a limited amount of stamina so you have to be careful when trying to climb up to higher layers of clouds. The world is full of orbs, as mentioned, but also birds and creatures you can interact with, puzzles that have you flying through rings, and a handful of other hidden collectibles that add bits and pieces to the story.

For the other part of the game – fighting Titans – Oure’s controls don’t feel quite as good. The Titans are all in the form of different giant animals – birds, giant insects, manta rays, among others – and your objective is to fly all over them to destroy crystals, which calms the Titan down so they’ll help you out later. The problems are multiple in these battles, unfortunately. The Titans don’t want you crawling around on them, so they’ll turn and twist and speed up in order to prevent you from reaching the crystals. This is a frustrating pain in the butt because the camera is terrible and can’t keep up a lot of the time, but your movement controls are also not nearly precise enough. Flying around feels great when you’re in open air, but when you have to dodge lasers and avoid obstacles and try to get close to a crystal to grab it, it all falls apart. Another problem is that destroying the crystals involves doing weird line puzzles like you’re playing The Witness, but they aren’t explained very well and get significantly more difficult the deeper into the game you get.

The result is a pretty disappointing experience all around. The exploration is wholly unsatisfying because you’re overwhelmed with collectibles that seem arbitrarily mouse-dropped in at random without much thought and the Titan fights, which should be the highlights of the experience, are clunky and frustrating and not fun. Oure, admirably, set its sights sky high but doesn’t really come close to reaching the titles it was clearly influenced by.

Presentation-wise, Oure is decent overall, though an extreme overuse of blur and a ridiculously close draw distance do spoil the visuals a bit. The fluffy clouds and different colored lighting as the game progresses really looks beautiful. The Titans also look pretty darn cool as well. It’s all so darn blurry, though, and the orbs and other objects only really becoming visible seemingly right in front of your eyes is weird. I guess that’s why they put in the “hold square to reveal all objects” feature – because you wouldn’t know where anything was otherwise. The sound fares better with a very solid soundtrack.

All in all, Oure is pretty disappointing, which is a shame. The trailer showed off an epic Journey-like experience but the actual game is clunky and frustrating and so lacking in subtlety that it’s just a letdown. Don't get me wrong, Oure isn't bad, it's just disappointing compared to the games it was inspired by. Skip it. 
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.