Okabu: This one’s forecast is partly cloudy

November 2, 2011

Okabu is entertaining but lacks polish. A lot of good games could have spent a little more time in the oven, but not every developer out there can afford to operate on Valve time. In Okabu, you, along with a friend if you’ve got one in the room, take control of two cloud whales traveling all over the world to stop the Doza and their terrible pollution. The pollution hurts the villagers and keeps their crops from growing, and it mingles with the clouds in the sky, preventing the cloud whales from flying high above the villagers. Naturally, the cloud whales descend to help the villagers, vanquish the Doza, and resume their life flying through the skies.

It’s a decent setup for a puzzle-action game, and the most refreshing part is that the entire narrative is presented. There is no setup for a sequel, no planning for eventual further episodes that won’t come, and no feeling that some of the content was held back for any reason. Everything that Okabu is, you’ve got in your single download from the PSN.

Everything in Okabu is aimed at a younger audience, from the great storybook visuals to the simple controls and easy combat. It is a game about the journey, not about the challenge in taking down that difficult boss. You’ll use your abilities to scoop up water and make crops grow, let a fisherman take a ride so you can borrow his suction-cup fishing line or suck up acorns to lob them at boss Doza who ride around in big bulldozers that throw pollution into the air. Since the game is designed with co-op in mind, you either get the pleasure of playing a simple-but-fun game as a team, or you have a reserve cloud whale who can be used to hold items (like water and acorns) or riders (like the fisherman) that you think you’ll need later in the level.

Unfortunately, Okabu is not without fault. Occasionally, characters stop responding to controller input or they get stuck on level geometry. It thankfully never happened to us, but there have also been reports of the game not saving player progress. Okabu has a lot of potential, and the game we have is fun, but it isn’t ready. With a little more time it could be a PSN classic, but as it is it is merely good. And that’s a shame: we hate to see a fun experience marred by technical issues.

Pros: Great storybook visuals, refreshing mechanics variety
Cons: Frustrating technical issues

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.