‘OCO’ Review (PC): A Perfectionist’s Puzzling Paradise
OCO has become something of a problem for me these last few weeks.
Spectrum48’s minimalist, one-touch, rotating puzzle platformer–which arrived this week on PC and Mac after becoming a cult hit on Android and iOS–initially seemed like a rather basic, time wasting puzzle game ideal for fleeting moments of boredom.
The truth is quite the opposite. Between sessions of OCO, you feel like real life’s the waste of time.
Combining simplistic, smooth, colorful visuals with a stunningly ambient, player-influenced soundtrack, OCO initially seems to offer simple, spinning pinwheel stages you navigate with one button–jump–to collect various dots scattered around the level. You can reverse direction by bouncing off walls.
All the while, its comet-tail motion trails and responsive music make every level a unique delight–and works of art. Soon, an early floor tile acts as a launchpad to mix things up. Quietly, the levels get more complex. Before you know it, you’re locked in.
OCO gradually builds momentum and complexity, without ever interrupting the flow the game establishes; at its core, it always feels straightforward. Soon, you encounter other tiles: greens accelerate you and improve your jump height; purples make you float; oranges are sticky; whites act as teleporters; of course, reds kill you.
And yet, these twists and turns don’t slow you down. The pacing of new mechanics is implemented brilliantly, to the same standards of abilities in the Ori series; you don’t even realize how much you’ve learned or mastered until you revisit early levels, or return after two hours of boring, “important” real-life duties.
You’re always learning–always trying to get better. This drive for perfection is only enhanced by OCO’s three-part completion criteria for every stage. If you’re a big puzzle fan–and, god forbid, a perfectionist like me–you could soon find yourself getting obsessive over each and every level.
Simply overcoming the trial is just one of the three goals; you also have to do it using the fewest number of clicks possible, and nail it in the fastest possible time. The latter is occasionally down to luck, but you’ll always chase it, and the feeling of getting all three is often unrivaled, especially if you’ve spent half an hour on one 13-second level… even if it often feels like two minutes.
In this regard, OCO disconnects from more obvious rhythm-based predecessors like Bit.Trip Runner. For me, it felt more like Yoshi’s Story on the N64; you only feel like you’re truly achieving something when embracing the game’s core puzzle elements, instead of simply aiming to get through each stage. Every time you get an overview of what’s to come, you find yourself analyzing it like a chess player, planning your route 30 moves in advance.
If the main game’s not enough, OCO also features an extensive editing suite for you to create devilish levels and inflict those of the wider community on you. I never had myself down as a sadomasochist, but the satisfaction of just overcoming others’ disgustingly difficult offerings was a treat, and I hope to wreak havoc on the community in kind in the coming months.
It’s hard to think of a single real criticism of OCO. Its only lows come during those joyless moments of feeling utterly beaten, but these are fleeting; you either battle on, or petulantly smash Alt+F4 until inevitably, half an hour later, you don’t even realize you’ve booted it up again.
OCO looks great, sounds amazing, and it’s responsive and inventive. It’s yours for $5–the price of a small fast-food deal. It’s a good trade; buy this, and you’ll be so distracted that you’ll forget to eat a few meals. Consider it an investment.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of OCO in exchange for a fair and honest review. The game was tested on PC.