Ode is a surprise release from Ubisoft which is a game developed by the studios that brought us Grow Home and Grow Up. It’s supposedly a visual and aural journey through landscapes of beauty and sounds. I didn’t know what to expect at first but what I experienced was a melody worth hearing.
Platform Reviewed: PC (Uplay)
Platform Available: PC (Uplay), PS4, Xbox One
Developer: Ubisoft Reflections
Release Date: November 28, 2017
This review is based on a review code provided by Ubisoft.
Ode is a platformer exploration game. You take control of a lone star named Joy. Joy is this cute little ball of light. A star that has fallen from the sky whose task is to bring music to the worlds that it’s exploring.
The game doesn’t give you any tutorials so it is up to you to figure out how to really play the game. What the objectives are, where to go next. The game doesn’t give you any sort of hints at the beginning. It does give you the basic controls at the loading screen so at least you have some idea on how to play the game.
I really didn’t know what was going on at the beginning. You just get into the game right away as it tells you about how stars have fallen and that you are supposed to gather these fallen stars. You start off as this little star encased in a ball. You start off in this alien-like world. A cave full of many oddities that I can’t describe. There are these tiny balls that are trapped in dirt. If you get near them they suddenly get attracted to your light and follow you around. You don’t really know it’s purpose yet. I sure didn’t but I just kept on collecting them until I came upon a more spacious part of the cave. In this area, there are many other things that when you get close to them they emit sounds. It’s like I’m in a disco as the sounds bounce off each other. Creating a melody that you can only hear from a disco bar. Add to that the colorful light that each object emits. It’s trippy and psychedelic like I’m on a high or something.
I then noticed how there were green goo-like things that when I get near them the balls of light that was following me around latched onto them. Okay, so I guess this means that’s what their purpose is. I found more of the green goo and the balls lit them up. Once I got them all, they started emitting light that gathered into the biggest green goo in the room. The big goo then exploded with fireworks and the room was filled with beautiful sounds. It’s like a party ensued and I was the only audience. The sounds were pleasing to the ears. I felt calm and serene and at the same time the visual cues were a sight to behold. I then realized at this point that the objective of the game was to find all these green goos to light them up. After a few more of these rooms, I had nowhere else to go but then I saw a ramp at the end of the cave and out of curiosity, I went over to see where it would lead me. When I got at the end of the ramp I was then beamed up and the level was over. I’m not really sure how to feel about that but I felt a bit sad that the level ended abruptly like that. I wanted to explore more and see more of the cave buy Joy had to move on.
It is a relatively short game because there are only four levels. Each level is a bit of the same from your first level which was the cave. You get into a new world, find more goo, light them up and then get beamed up. Contrary to belief that the game doesn’t provide you any hints, it actually shows you where the goos are. They are highlighted on the area by a beam of light that goes upward. They are not easy to miss and it kinda tells you that it’s where you need to go next. The challenge lies in trying to get to the goo. There’s a level where the green goo is only visible if you step on a switch. And it’s up to you to figure out how to activate the goos while stepping on the switch. It gives you these little brain teasers which is nice as it gives you a bit of a challenge. All the while getting you perked up by the sounds that erupts all around you.
Another interesting thing about this game is how Joy reacts to different colors of liquid that it encounters. Everytime it steps onto a liquid it adopts its color and it provides them with unique abilities. For example, stepping into a shining gold liquid allows Joy to jump even higher. Other liquids transform it in a way that the balls becomes its feet. There are other liquids that you can encounter but it’s best that you explore them yourself.
I like how the game is very casual. It reminds me a lot of Sound Shapes but it is more casual and more relaxed. There are no enemies to encounter and you don’t die at all. You just bounce off into the objects in the game as they emit sounds of pure pleasure.
Overall, it is a symphony of sounds. A magical journey through music. An enchantingly visual experience. Although it is a relatively short game, I think that this game is more suited as a guilty pleasure and an experience that you’d like to have when you just want to relax.