This platformer is of the monochromic variety, set within a stark, black and white world. You control a small black dot, able to change colour and move only at a snail’s pace. Getting around quicker involves changing colour to alter the direction of gravity – only objects of the matching colour support your weight, so by changing from black to white, you’ll fall directly into the very platform that held you up only seconds ago.
If this sounds simple, that’s because it is.
By switching colour, ergo the effect of gravity, you can gain a substantial amount of momentum and (hopefully) make it through to the end of the stage, which results in the playfield zooming out to reveal a beautiful piece of artwork.
Random patterns reveal themselves as beautiful strokes in a twisted Rorschach test. In one instance, what initially appeared to be ledges were in fact fingers, in a black and white, trippy rendition of The Sistine Chapel.
The quality of the presentation impresses in other areas. The soundtrack by Brokenkites is what I believe the kids call today ‘ambient’ and is excellent. OVIVO is definitely a game to play with headphones on. In fact, everything in OVIVO works very harmoniously to create a mood, even the menus, which are stark and require a spot of self-discovery.
Our only complaint here is that we wish the music and the gameplay had more interaction. Sometimes the action seemed out of step with the music – we’d have liked the two to work in tandem to create the feeling that you’re adding to the soundtrack, a la Rez. This lack of synchronicity sometimes messed up our momentum.
Momentum is particularly important in OVIVO because your skill set is so limited. There’s no jumping, you can’t really go uphill and your character moves at a glacial pace. It provides something refreshingly different, and you never really get frustrated because retrying a section is so painless and quick. If you end up floating away into oblivion, you’ll be plonked back to where you failed within seconds. It’s all very zen.
It’s not all good news, though. We found that the Switch version lost a lot of its impact when docked, and its mobile roots reveal themselves in a little bit of shallowness. The developers have worked hard to expand the concept by adding obstacles like spikes and dragons (yes, dragons!) and ravines that require lots of momentum to jump over, but not all of these new inclusions are a success.
Like many other mobile conversions, this is something best played in short chunks. Playing dozens of levels in a row lets boredom and repetition set in. Still, if you’re after something beautiful and weird to dive in and out of, OVIVO is yet another Switch release to add to your wish list.