by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
What it says on the tin
I mean, credit where credit’s due, the developers of Ostrich Island probably achieved their goals. This is indeed a game where you play as an Ostrich on an island. Whether the island itself is called Ostrich Island, I’m not entirely sure. However it would be ironic since our avian protagonist is trying to escape.
I’m rambling because I’m not quite sure where to begin. It’s not quite clear whether this game is trying to be wacky in the same vein as Goat Simulator, or whether it’s trying to take itself seriously. My guess would be a little from column A and a little from column B, but any way you look at it, this isn’t a particularly good game.
You run around this island formed of various levels, collecting eggs, and all sorts of other random things. Pretty much everything you do earns you points, and at the end of the level your points get added to your total score and you are placed on the global leaderboard. I’m currently the 18th best Ostrich Island player in the world. There really aren’t many people playing this game, so this isn’t a product for you if you’re into properly competitive leaderboards.
That said, I don’t know who exactly this game is for. This is a hard sell even to ostrich lovers. For a bird that’s supposed to be the fastest in the world running over land, your character moves remarkably slow. There’s a run button, but even then you are not going at a particularly fast rate. When you are running you are also liable to falling off the edge of the island and into the water, which will cause you to lose a life and reset nearby.
Water poses a problem when there are isolated islands you need to get to. But don’t fret, there’s a kick button. Using this you can kick over palm trees and form bridges. Sometimes at least. Apparently you need the accuracy of a sniper to kick trees over in the right direction, especially considering there’s no lock on, or any sense of aiming. You have just got to do it and hope for the best.
You will also be kicking everything else in the game. Chests, levers, little statue things, vases. Not skeletons though, because if your very large hitbox intersects with a skeleton’s very large hitbox, then you will lose a life. There’s no animation to this, you just black out for a second and wake up somewhere else. Oh yeah, there are skeletons on the island, did I not mention that earlier? Well the game didn’t mention it to me either until I encountered one a few levels in.
Not to worry though, because they don’t have any AI other than to run backwards and forwards between two points. Even in later levels when you are inside, you can just stand to the side of a corridor while the skeleton runs past you. Although technically, skeletons don’t have brains, so don’t have intelligence. Maybe my criticisms are unfounded after all.
Levels can be completed incredibly quickly if you aren’t looking to collect everything. In fact one level has the finish pretty much visible within the first few seconds. The exit to each level is signified by a giant wall of floating bubbles by the way. The more I think about my time with this game, the less it makes sense. And I’m talking about a game with an already ridiculous premise.
Head in the sand
Well, levels can be completed quickly until you can’t complete them anymore. At one point you won’t be able to progress unless you’ve got a certain upgrade that lets you jump higher. If you don’t have it yet, you’re going to have to go back and play levels again to get enough eggs to unlock it. Hooray!
The graphics are really basic, and the soundtrack is comprised of music ripped from royalty free websites (I know this because I’ve used some of it myself in the past). You can find various items in the levels and equip your ostrich with them, but you have to go to a separate area to do so. This happened to be my favourite part of the game. I made my ostrich into a lady and she had sunglasses and a Santa hat.
It just seems like everything about the game is lazy. From the “throw a bunch of stuff into a level and have the player go and get it” game design, to the lack of original music. The controls are bad and the whole thing just seems aimless. Even if you’re looking for a wacky few hours of randomness, you’re better off burying your head in the sand.
You can dress ostriches up in silly costumes.
Poor presentation, lazy game design, aimless.