Olija stars Lord Faraday, leader of a struggling fishing village who gets shipwrecked during an expedition. He awakens alone in Terraphage, a collection of islands corrupted by an ancient evil and home to a foreign civilization governed by the mysterious Lady Olija. Who is Olija, what is this malevolent force, and how does Faraday rescue his crew and return home? Answering those tantalizing questions is a blast, because Olija looks good and plays better, making it one of the year’s first pleasant surprises.
Static images of Olija (pronounced “ooo-lee-ah”) don’t do the presentation any favors. It has a simple, pixelated look, but it’s backed by smooth animation that evokes classics like Prince of Persia and Another World. The game also has style for days thanks to its dramatic cutscenes (expect frequent cuts to black), foreboding soundtrack, and surprising gore. The unfamiliar, subtitled language adds to that cinematic quality, though my favorite moments are communicated nonverbally. One great scene involves delivering a rose to a maiden without her knowing, leading to a cute interaction that doesn’t need a single word to be uttered.
Beneath its simple-looking appearance, Olija is a satisfying action game. Players can unleash multi-hit combos, launch enemies airborne,