Title: Olympia Rising
Platform: Steam, Windows, Mac
Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Action platformer
Players: Single player
Written by Whistler 1st August 2015
If there was one thing old school platformers of the 8 and 16 bit era proved it was that even a simple concept can be thoroughly enjoyable time and time again. No matter how far technology advances and how complex video games have become I always find myself drawn back games like Donkey Kong Country, Kid Icarus and the plumber himself Mario. These games were so simplistic in design and mechanics and yet you can be sure plenty of gamers of all ages still play them and some even dedicate themselves to speed running them.
Olympia Rising is one such title that attempts to recreate that feeling of pure simple enjoyment developed by indie team Paleozoic. Olympia Rising sees Iola, a young female warrior who met an untimely end; Iola awakens from her eternal slumber as memories of her past life begin rushing back to her. Turns out Iola has awoken during the time of the Purge where wandering souls are consumed by acid pits, during this time though Iola can seize her chance to escape the Underworld and reach Mt Olympus where perhaps the gods will have the answers she seeks.
At its core Olympia Rising is a 2D action platformer where the player must progress through a series of levels collecting a set amount of Obolus coins lying around and gathered from dispatching the spawns of Hades. Levels alternate between simply collecting coins at your leisure or a race against time in vertical levels where the acid pools will rise spelling instant demise should Iola get her feet wet.
Combat is as you guessed kept simple, Iola can double jump and so long as you have the mana can fly in any direction and has an arced slashing attack.
Controls are passable but could be improved upon, on more than one occasion I felt the controlling Iona especially in mid-
You see platforming in this game is rather obnoxious after the first couple of levels, often certain platforms will blend in with the surroundings (as does most objects and monsters) meaning you’ll likely be failing jumps often which especially in the vertical levels where you race against the rising acid will result in a frustrating insta death.
This isn’t me being sour either, I’ve played Vulgarr the Viking, Super Meat Boy and even consider 1001 Spikes as one of my favourite platformers but with Olympia Rising I constantly felt that certain deaths were cheap.
I also couldn’t understand why what seems like purely for the sake of emulating old school controls, to cast spells you have to hold down and attack, back on the NES this would be fine but we have more buttons for a reason. My biggest griped through is while traveling horizontally or upwards is fine, travelling downwards is a massive pain and there is no way to look down so platforming becomes a constant leap of faith resulting in unfair hits and even deaths.
Through your journey you’ll go from the river Styx, the halls of fire, Acheron and even to Mt Olympus itself over the course of six worlds with three or so levels each. At the end of each world of course you’ll face up against ancient Greek mythological beasts that are probably one of the lowest points of the game. What makes bosses in platformers enjoyable is usually they utilize patterns or puzzles the player would have faced in the levels leading up to the boss giving you a balanced challenge and rewarding the player for having effectively mastered that section of the game. The majority of the bosses have very little tying them to the theme of their worlds, very little importance to the overall story and are just simple dodge the obvious pattern and whack away at them till they drop. Hell in the first two bosses I had no clue if I was even injuring the bosses as for the most part it seems like your moves are bouncing off them as the bosses barely react to anything past their systematic cycles.
Olympia Rising’s art style and musical aesthetic have been given a great deal of care and the game is rather generously priced well under a fiver however Olympia Rising just fails to keep me playing especially considering how short it is. Alas while this humble little platformer didn’t reinvigorate the same feelings I’ve had playing the platformers of old it’s certainly worth checking out for you platforming enthusiasts out there and is a promising debut title for this small indie team.
Good art style,
Creative simple mechanics,
Sudden difficulty curves,
Olympia Rising stands up with a 6/10.