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XBLIG Review: Olu

Olu cover art

Available Platforms

Xbox 360

Reviewed Platforms

Xbox 360


Excellent audio
Outstanding visual and audio presentation
Fun gameplay


Short game
No online leaderboards


MSP 240

Purchase Recommendation



Olu is a music-driven rail-shooter that uses simple, geometric visuals paired with a pretty awesome soundtrack. As all rail-shooters go, players don't control the movement through the level, but are free to shoot whatever comes up on and around their screen by targetting multiple enemies with their square reticule.

This game features a "polarity" mechanic, allowing players to switch their weapon between Digtal and Analog; each "vector" mode deals extra damage to enemies of the opposite type, so Digital enemies (ones with wireframe models) are weaker against Analog fire and vice versa. While this seems confusing at first, it becomes more natural after playing through a few levels. Furthermore, using each weapon will fill up your overdrive bar, which will allow you to use Digital Megadrive or Analog Freeze Drive, both of which prove to be invaluable in certain situations and sometimes even a bit overpowered.

While the polarity mechanic adds a bit of a learning curve, the game is generous enough to offer two different modes: Simple and Complex. The only difference between these two options is that players don't take damage or get scored in Simple, while Complex allows you to score points and be hit by enemies. The gameplay in Complex isn't any harder than Simple, which is kind of a shame, because the game isn't very hard to begin with. Olu is also a very short game; it's beatable within 45 minutes and is only 5 levels long, one of which is the tutorial level. This was a disincentive in regards to the price of this game ($3.00 or 240 Microsoft Points), since you're only getting about an hour's worth of gameplay, replays aside. In terms of replay value, the enemies and levels will be the same every time you play them, so the majority of your replay time will probably be used to improve your scores. Unfortunately, Olu only offers a local high score leaderboard, so unless you've got a bunch of competitive friends who love rail shooters enough to pass on playing Halo for 45 minutes, you may find that your name is going to be the only one up there.

Visuals and Sound

This is where Olu really shines as an indie title. The second you boot up the main menu, you can tell that there were some aesthetic-aware people working on this game, which is more than I can say for some of the other indie games out there. The menu is intuitive and has great ambient music playing; in fact, I left the menu on while I wrote this review because it's so nice. It's no surprise that even the menu has great sound because the rest of the audio in this game is outstanding, earning its right to call itself a music-driven game. The levels are graced with a pumping electronic soundtrack, but the best part is the sound enemies make when you shoot them. Enemies will explode in bleeps, bloops, and drum beats that fit almost perfectly to the level music, and the more enemies you target in one shot, the longer the string of effects will be. The environments in the level will also pulsate and move to the music, which is as immersive as it is impressive.

Olu is built around the idea of a hacker in a computer system, so while the visuals aren't overly complicated, they work very well with the feel of the game. Levels are just a series of floating planes, lines, and shapes, and enemies are geometric forms that fly, swim, and even walk around in the circuitry. Their movements, much like the level around you, animate to the beats of the music and form a very engaging visual experience.

The only weakness of the visuals is the presentation of the different enemy types. It's almost impossible to tell whether some enemies are Digital or Analog, and it's just a matter of trial and error to see which weapon should work on them. Luckily, there is a different sound for when you target enemies with the "right" weapon, so the audio cue helps in determining which weapon you should use. Also, since the enemies and levels are comprised of similar elements, sometimes it's difficult to see what can be targetted and what's just part of the level. Some parts can also get a bit busy on-screen, with colors and shapes everywhere, leading to some prolonged blind-firing.

Final Verdict

Olu is an excellent visual and auditory experience with fun and immersive gameplay, but would have been nice to have more levels to play or different difficulties, especially since it has such a high asking price for such a short game. The trial gives players a good sense of the gameplay, so it would be wise to try it before dropping 240 points down. I will warn you though: the 8 minutes of trial time will go by very quickly when playing Olu.




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Pretty cool

looks like a decent game to play, clean visuals, and very funny error sound when you mess up the chain thing.

Reminds me of Rez

I want pez.

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