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Owlboy cover art.jpg
Developer(s)D-Pad Studio
  • D-Pad Studio (digital)
  • Soedesco (physical)
Director(s)Simon Stafsnes Andersen
  • Simon Stafsnes Andersen
  • Adrian Bauer
  • Jo-Remi Madsen
  • Henrik Stafsnes Andersen
Artist(s)Simon Stafsnes Andersen
Composer(s)Jonathan Geer
  • Microsoft Windows
  • November 1, 2016
  • macOS, Linux
  • January 27, 2017
  • Nintendo Switch
  • February 13, 2018
  • PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • April 10, 2018

Owlboy is a platform-adventure[1] video game created by Norwegian independent developer D-Pad Studio. The game is notable for its long development cycle, which began in 2007, and was released in November 2016.


The player controls Otus, who is capable of flying and carrying objects during flight. These objects vary in use, but are mainly used as ranged weapons, thrown weapons, and puzzle-solving tools. As the game progresses, Otus gains allies that accompany him during his journey, each having their own weapon with exclusive properties.


Owlboy is set in the land of the sky; the islands of the world below have been separated by a catastrophic event. The player controls a boy named Otus, who is a member of an owllike humanoid race called the Owls. When Otus' village is attacked by a band of pirates, he sets out on a journey to save it from them, and uncovers the lost truth of the Owls.[2]


Owlboy takes place in the floating settlement of Vellie. The village is made up of many different islands, and is populated with humans and owl-humanoid creatures alike. Vellie is located near the floating city of Advent which is their capital. The owls do not naturally have the ability to fly like their wild counterparts, but with the help of an owl cloak, they are given the ability to fly. The areas surrounding Vellie and Advent contain old relics and temples in them from the time the ancient owls were larger in number and ruled the land.[3]


The main character is called Otus, who is mute. The game begins with a scene including Otus's mentor Asio, who is training him to be an owl. He is given an owl cloak by Asio, which gives him the ability to fly. Otus is looked down upon by the other members of Vellie, because he is accident-prone. As such, Otus is not seen as a suitable successor to the owl name. He spirals quickly into a small bout of depression, but is helped out of it by his self-proclaimed friend Geddy. Geddy is a human who serves as the Vellie Guard. When the village of Vellie is attacked by a band of pirates, he sets out on a journey with Geddy to save the village, and the rest of the world as they know it. On the way, they make more allies, including the former pirate Alphonse, and Twig, a former ally of the pirates. As they work to fight the pirates, they slowly uncover the truth of the ancient owls, and have to work to fix their mistakes.[4][5]


The inspiration for Owlboy came from several sources, most involving Andersen's penchant for Nintendo games. The basic mechanics were inspired by the Super Mario Bros. 3 Tanooki Suit, although with reverse mechanics.[6] Similarly, Andersen also became interested in rumors of a new game in the Kid Icarus series wondering how the flying mechanics of those games would translate to 3D, and this made Andersen realize that he felt a 2D design for his game would work better.[6] Finally, Andersen was inspired by the then-upcoming Wii and felt that it provided a great opportunity to create an old-school game.[6]

Beginning development in 2007,[7] the game spent the better part of a decade in development. The team worried about the expectation of fans and thus started over several times. Andersen also had to deal with suffering from depression, which he had since childhood.[6] Owlboy was released primarily for Microsoft Windows-based personal computers, but D-Pad also considered a release for home consoles.[8] A Nintendo Switch version was released in February 2018, with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions being delayed.[9] The game was shown off at PAX 2013.[10] At PAX 2016, it was announced that the game would be released on November 1, 2016.[11][12]



Owlboy received positive commentary from gaming publications. Kotaku's Luke Plunkett stated in 2013 that it would be "worth the wait" of its extensive development time. Regarding the art style, he mentioned, "..and the game's charming art style, which for want of something more descriptive reminds me of a Genesis version of Wind Waker."[1] Dave Cook of VG247 described the game as "a rather neat-looking 2D pixel art platformer".[8] Nathan Grayson of Rock, Paper, Shotgun lamented the fact that by 2013 the game still did not yet have a release date as "the bad news – the news by which all upsetting and otherwise unfortunate events are judged".[23] The website Kill Screen would go on to compare the game's long development cycle to that of Fez, another indie game with a similarly long development period, writing and describing both games as "retro-sentimental platformers by independent studios that promised a lot, but seemed fated to never come out."[24]


On release, Owlboy was met with "generally favorable reviews", according to Metacritic.[14][15][16][17] IGN's Chloi Rad gave the game 9.3/10 and writes that the game "shines thanks to surprisingly varied, Metroidvania-style gameplay and a charming cast of unlikely heroes".[21] The game has sold 100,000 copies.[25]


Year Award Category Result Ref
2017 New York Game Awards Big Apple Award for Best Game of the Year Nominated [26][27]
Central Park Children's Zoo Award for Best Kids Game Nominated
Off Broadway Award for Best Indie Game Nominated
20th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards Outstanding Achievement in Game Design Nominated [28][29]
National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards Art Direction, Fantasy Nominated [30]
Game, Original Family Nominated
SXSW Gaming Awards Gamer's Voice Single Player Won [31]
2018 Golden Joystick Awards Best Indie Game Nominated [32][33]

Other media[edit]

Otus is featured as one of the playable characters in the indie crossover fighting game Bounty Battle.


  1. ^ a b Plunkett, Luke (January 21, 2013). "Damn It, Owlboy, Why Aren't You Out Yet". Kotaku. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  2. ^ "Welcome to a world in the sky!". OwlboyGame.com. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  3. ^ "Owlboy". www.owlboygame.com. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  4. ^ "Review: Owlboy". Destructoid. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  5. ^ Media Glitch (2018-05-30), Everything you wanted to know about Owl Boy Interview, never before seen stuff and Q&A, retrieved 2019-05-06
  6. ^ a b c d Klepek, Patrick. "The Exhausting Ten-Year Journey to Release 'Owlboy'". Vice. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  7. ^ Donnelly, Joe (August 25, 2016). "Owlboy release date set after nine years in development". Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Cook, Dave (January 9, 2013). "Owlboy: PC version releasing in 2013, console port being considered". VG247. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  9. ^ "Owlboy Coming to Switch, Xbox One, PS4 Next Year". IGN. November 2017. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
  10. ^ Hillier, Brenna (July 30, 2013). "PAX Prime indie showcase titles include Towerfall, Owlboy". VG247. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  11. ^ Donnelly, Joe (September 6, 2016). "Owlboy release date finally confirmed after nine years in development". PC Gamer. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  12. ^ McWhertor, Michael (August 24, 2016). "After eight years, beautiful platformer Owlboy looks like it's finally coming out". Polygon. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  13. ^ "Owlboy for PS4, XB1, PC, Switch Reviews". OpenCritic. OpenCritic.com, LLC. 27 October 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Owlboy for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Owlboy for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  16. ^ a b "Owlboy for Switch Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  17. ^ a b "Owlboy for Xbox One Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  18. ^ Hancock, Patrick (October 27, 2016). "Review: Owlboy". Destructoid. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  19. ^ Vazquez, Suriel (November 4, 2016). "Owlboy Review - Taking The High Road". Game Informer. Archived from the original on December 23, 2016. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  20. ^ Brown, Peter (November 2, 2016). "Owlboy Review". GameSpot. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  21. ^ a b Rad, Chloi (November 2, 2016). "OWLBOY REVIEW". IGN. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  22. ^ Prescott, Shaun (November 11, 2016). "Owlboy review". PC Gamer. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  23. ^ Grayson, Nathan (July 10, 2013). "ELEVATEWAR: Owlboy Dev's Elevator Brawler Savant". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  24. ^ Priestman, Chris (August 25, 2016). "NEARLY 10 YEARS IN THE MAKING, THERE'S STILL PLENTY OF REASON TO CARE ABOUT OWLBOY". Kill Screen. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  25. ^ Madsen, Jo-Remi (April 7, 2017). "Indies On Tour - How we escaped the office, and discovered the world". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  26. ^ NYGCC (January 7, 2017). "Nominees! 2017 New York Game Awards!". The New York Videogame Critics Circle. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  27. ^ NYGCC (January 20, 2017). "Winners! NY Game Awards '17". The New York Videogame Critics Circle. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  28. ^ "20th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards Finalists" (PDF). Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  29. ^ "20th D.I.C.E. AWARDS HONORS BEST IN INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. February 23, 2017.
  30. ^ "2016 Awards". National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers. March 20, 2017. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  31. ^ Aviles, Estevan (March 20, 2018). "2017 SXSW Gaming Awards Winners Announced". SXSW. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  32. ^ Hoggins, Tom (September 24, 2018). "Golden Joysticks 2018 nominees announced, voting open now". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  33. ^ Sheridan, Connor (November 16, 2018). "Golden Joystick Awards 2018 winners: God of War wins big but Fortnite gets Victory Royale". GamesRadar+. Retrieved November 18, 2018.

External links[edit]