Ossuary review

Ossuary review
Ossuary review
The Good:
  • Almost complete freedom to explore
  • Wealth of detail beyond the main path
  • Thought-provoking issues
  • Additional content from side quests
The Bad:
  • Backtracking
  • Repeating dialogues
  • Minimalist graphics and lack of voice acting may limit its appeal
  • Overwhelmingly favours the Discordianist philosophy
Our Verdict:

The thought-provoking Ossuary is a game that exercises your brain in more ways than one, with a multitude of diversions to find.

You asked a question and received an unsatisfying answer. So now you find yourself in the Ossuary, last resting place of the legendary Greyface. In this place beyond the physical world, perhaps you will find the true answer that you seek. But all is not well in the Ossuary. The Sacred Order of the Defamation League has split, each of its four members disagreeing on what is needed to bring order. If you assist them in their respective goals, they believe they will be able to act for the good of all. Or maybe there is another way. In Future Proof’s Ossuary, the result of this unique premise is a minimalist, text-heavy philosophical adventure which, whilst a bit cumbersome at times, provides plenty of stimulation for the mind, even beyond puzzling.

Viewed from above, Ossuary’s scenery consists essentially of simple bright lines against a black backdrop to depict walls. Shading provides a little depth, and some scenes have additional features, like the brickwork in one area. Bookcases have the mere suggestion of books on the shelves, while display cabinets have a few pixels to show reflections on their glass tops. Objects are given slightly more detail, though even these are still extremely low-resolution. Colour is sparsely used, but to good effect. A furnace has a fiery glow, and an otherwise austere fort is bedecked with bright red banners. There is also a shifting mist effect, which only lightly obscures the action, though its constant movement may affect those who suffer from motion sickness. The playable area consists of only a square section in the middle of widescreen monitors, leaving lots of unused territory around it.

Characters are represented by simple forms, with arms and legs sticking out the sides. These come in a variety of shapes, though only the player character is filled in, with all the others being simple outlines. Despite this simplicity, everything is identifiable in context, and the very lack of detail adds to the otherworldly feel of this place. When you engage in conversation, a simple illustrative headshot appears next to the dialogue of the person you are talking to, showing mildly exaggerated features and some clothing, such as a guard’s helmet. This gives each character some personality, though their blank eyes are still disturbing.

The audio is equally simple in design. The background “music” is a long-deep, resonating tone, with a varied hissing behind it. This is occasionally interrupted by a wailing like a religious chant, though with no distinguishable words. This fits well with the setting, and whilst not hugely varied, there is enough variety that I did not find it became irritating over time. There is a crunching noise as you walk around, though it’s probably best that the source of the sound is never displayed, given that an ossuary is a storage place for bones. Other sound effects are largely dictated by player actions, mostly arising only when you have achieved something. Large stone doors grate as they open, a sonorous bell chimes, and an unearthly wail sounds when achieving a particular task. Like the graphics, the simplicity of the sound design works well in conveying the unearthly tone.

Before I go any further, I should note that this game is completely unvoiced, though a waffling noise like muffled conversation plays when another character is speaking. There is a huge amount of written dialogue, even if you stick to topics that advance your quest. Whilst each individual conversation is relatively short, it does add up over time, especially if you explore any of the non-vital discussions. If you are put off by having to read a lot in a game, then Ossuary is definitely not for you.

The game is divided into four main areas, with a fifth area containing the “reliquary” of Greyface serving as a crossroads between them. You move through these areas with the arrow keys, using X to interact with the person or object you are facing. The locations include an academy, a museum, a military fort, and an area split between two opposing political factions. Each of these environments has its own treasure, place of power, secret word and an order to join. Each member of the Sacred Order asks you to gather multiples of a particular item, such as secret words, in order to give them the power they need to sort things out. This is not a simple collection of fetch quests, however, as you need to adopt a different approach in each area, even if you decide to only pursue one request.

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Adventure games by Future Proof Games

Ossuary (Series)
PC, Mac, Freeware

Ossuary (Series) 2014

This is the Hodge-Podge Transformer, and you should not be here with your strange beliefs in causality. Activate the Transformer and leave this place of unfiltered chaos. Travel on to the Ossuary where you belong.

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