Not as one-note as it might first appear
Genre: Platformer, Rythm, Puzzle
Release date: 12 Aug, 2021
OCO is a fast paced rythm based one-button precision puzzle platformer with a minimalist aesthetic. Wow, that’s quite the mouthful. It’s a platformer where you only use one button to do stuff, and the little square that you control moves on its own around circular levels of increasing complexity, trying to collect other squares along the way.
That might sound like a perfect fit for a mobile game, and that’s because OCO started out its life on mobile, where it seems to have managed to garner a decent fanbase. “Mobile port” carries quite the stigma among people who play on other systems, but not all mobile ports are bad (for an example the GO series by SquareEnix are examples of mobile games that were good enough to be played on other systems).
Graphics & Sound
With a minimalist aesthetic like this there’s not a lot to say about the graphics. It’s simple and serves a purpose. The main “character” is a square that constantly moves forward over multi-coloured bricks that make up each level, and act as platforms. The square leaves a trail after it when it hits a special brick that has some kind of effect. On certain levels this can result in some interesting patterns being made.
With graphics as simple as this the game should be really easy to read, and for the most part it is, but not always. There are times when the background colour can make the game harder to read than it should be. In a game like this it’s important to be able to see what’s going on, and when the backgrounds are bright some elements blend into it, on top of it just being hard on the eyes.
The music for the game gets generated as you play. At the start of each level all you’ll hear is a monotonous tone and a simple beat, but as you hit special blocks, or pick up cubes this will add to the loop. Many levels lean into this and you end up with tunes that sound pretty decent. The way the music is generated also makes the game feel really satisfying to play.
Gameplay in OCO is really simple. Your cube always moves forward, until it hits something, at which point it will switch direction. Hit space, or left mouse button and the cube either jumps, or if it has hit some special block that changes its properties, does whatever that block has changed it to. Your goal on each level is to pick up all the smaller cubes, and once you’ve done that you’ve beaten the level.
Levels are made up of a series of concentric circles. How many circles a level is made up of depends on the size of the level. Every circle is in turn made up of a number of bricks and empty spaces (some circles might be completely empty). The bricks are colour coded and have different effects when you hit them. At their most basic they’re just a solid object that you can’t go through, but some have other effects, like making you do a high bounce, increase your speed, make you hover until you hit space/LMB, teleport you or even kill you (forcing you to restart the level).
Levels are usually really short, beating one takes a couple of seconds, though exactly how long varies. Some are less than 10 seconds long, others can be over 30 seconds, but it’s rare for a level to be much longer than that (at least if you’ve found a good path through it). Despite their simplicity levels can actually vary a fare bit. Some are focused on precision platforming, where you need to time your jumps (or drops when hovering) carefully, while others are more like puzzle, where there’s and intended path through the level that’s not immediately obvious, and you need to find it.
There are worlds focused on each type of brick, where most of the challenges are built around those specific bricks. Then there are a few harder worlds that mixes things up a bit more, and have levels focused on a variety of different bricks. This is not where the brunt of OCOs real content lies though. With the game comes a very easy to use level editor, as well as a way to easily share levels and play the levels that other people has made. While user generated content can always be a bit hit or miss, there’s a lot of good levels here, as well as ways to find them. And as you need to be able to beat a level in order to post it, there are no impossible levels in the list.
It is enough to beat a level in order to progress, but you are incentivized to try and do it in as few button presses and as fast as possible Every level has a speed goal and a button press goal. You don’t necessarily have to get both of those in one go though, and the fastest way to beat a level is not always the one with the fewest number of button presses. When you beat a level, and when you complete the speed and button press goals you earn a currency that you then can use to unlock new worlds, or new things to use in the map editor.
OCO is a simple game, with simple graphics and a simple premise. But it is a game that feels really satisfying to play. There are a few levels that misses the mark, but most of the levels made by the devs are quite good, and the community has made some remarkable levels as well.
While this is a quality port, after trying it out on mobile I still think that’s where the game is at its best. The way OCO is played just lends itself really well to mobile, as levels are short and to the point and you can easily get through a few on a short bus ride. The main area where the PC version beats the mobile version is with the level editor, it’s simply a lot easier to build levels using a mouse rather than a touch screen. But no matter what platform you play it on, OCO is a fun and satisfying game with a bit of lasting power, as there’s a constant stream of new levels being uploaded by the community, and the OCO is far from shallow. It’s a great game to play when you have a few minutes to kill, but it’s unlikely to be many people’s go-to game when they have time for longer gaming sessions.