Published on September 17th, 2012 | by octaneblue1
Developer: Chocolate Liberation Front
Publisher: MTV Networks
System(s): Android, iOS
Release Date: October 27, 2011
Mobile gaming is undoubtedly on the rise. With thousands of games available on both the App Store for iOS and Google Play Store for Android, and often for a cheap price, you have plenty of choices of games in nearly every genre. A platforming title that’s available for Android and iOS is Oscura, a game with a unique art style. But is it worth a dollar, or should you look elsewhere?
The main focus of Oscura is darkness and light. Each of the levels in the game are shrouded in darkness, and the visuals are really gorgeous. The protagonist carries a small light, slightly illuminating the area around him. So because of this, you can’t really jump anywhere you want, because there may be a trap or an enemy creature lingering in the darkness. This adds an element of suspense to the game. It also features moody, ambient background music, and it fits in perfectly with the game’s dark visual style.
The game adheres to the classic platforming formula in that your main goal is to get from the start to the end point of the level. But as mentioned, it’s not as ordinary as it sounds, as there are creatures and even more traps to deal with. Your character cannot fight back whatsoever, so when an enemy is encountered, you’ll either have to dodge or run from it. There are no lives in Oscura, so getting killed results in warping back to the previous checkpoint. With so many hazards in the game, in addition to the fact that one hit results in death, you’ll be thankful for those checkpoints. Since it’s easy for the main character to get killed, there’s definitely challenge to be found here, especially in a lot of the later levels.
Collectible light shards and gears are scattered about each level, and some of the latter items are pretty well hidden. The light shards are used to build up an hourglass meter. When activated, this slows down time and completely illuminates the level for a few seconds. This is helpful for getting through the faster traps or to see your surroundings. Since it’s timed, you should only use this power when the time arises, but there’s plenty of light shards in the levels, so you can afford to use it when the situation is not dire.
You get your choice of two different control schemes in Oscura. For touch screen controls, placing your thumb on the left or right side of your screen moves the character in that direction. While holding down a direction, tapping the opposite side causes him to jump. If you want to jump while stationary, placing both your thumbs on your screen simultaneously makes him do that. To activate the hourglass power, simply swipe the screen. The other control scheme has on-screen buttons to press for each of these actions. After testing out the two, both actually work well, but you’ll have more precision with the on-screen button controls. An option to increase the size of those buttons would have been nice though, since they’re on the small side, and they can be easy to miss sometimes.
Oscura consists of 12 chapters. Going through all of them won’t take very long, maybe about an hour or so. But going through each level, collecting everything, avoiding death, and getting a perfect four-star ranking certainly requires much more time than an hour. However, if you’re indifferent to high scores, the game currently lacks any additional content that’s unlocked once you beat the game.
Oscura is a beautiful platformer that’s unfortunately too short. Still, the engaging gameplay makes up for that. If you have an extra dollar to spare, Oscura is a worthy download for your smart phone or tablet.
+ Nice visual style
+ Ambient background music
+ Easy-to-learn controls
– Short; lack of unlockables
– On-screen buttons are too small
Final score: 3.75 out of 5