Okabu Updated Hands-On Preview

We got to spend more time with Hand Circus' charming adventure game Okabu.

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Though famous for its iOS puzzle game Rolando, developer Hand Circus is taking a break from mobile, bringing co-op adventure game Okabu to the PlayStation 3. With a cute, colourful, and slightly eccentric art style, Okabu certainly looks the part, but how does it play? We went hands-on to find out.

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You play as one of two cloudwhales named Kumulo and Nimbe, members of an ancient and peaceful race that lives above the skies of a land known as Okabu. Their normally happy-go-lucky lives in the sky are disrupted when pollution from Okabu begins to make them sick. Frustrated, Kumulo and Nimbe set out to find the source of the pollution, only to be overwhelmed and fall from the sky. It's then that they find the source--the evil Doza tribe--and they make it their mission to clean up Okabu and restore their cloudwhale home in the sky.

You're not on your own in your mission, though. Other Okabu tribes have been suffering from the pollution, and their many villagers are more than happy to lend you a hand in taking down the Doza. The first level introduces you to an eccentric character known as Captain Monkfish. He's stranded on an island after a freak fishing accident, and his daring rescue sees him ride atop either Kumulo or Nimbe, letting you use his harpoon gun--albeit a rather cheap one made up of a plunger and rope. Holding down circle brings up an aiming reticle, which you can use to target the gun and perform different actions. You can use it to drag objects around, open doors, or--like in tasks you perform for Captain Monkfish--open treasure chests, and to return baby Rubyfish to their expecting mothers.

Kumulo and Nimbe aren't without their own abilities, though. Aside from floating above the ground, they can absorb liquids such as water and oil, using them to put out or start fires. Early missions have you watering strange vegetation known as aeroplants to remove pollution, shooting water out of your mouth to destroy enemies, or picking up fruit to use as projectiles. Later you meet a second hero known as Piccolo. He has the ability to charm villagers and animals using his musical pipe and lead them around. This, too, is used in a variety of puzzles. In one section, after putting out fires and destroying Doza, a thankful villager offers up a goat as a present. You can lead the goat around, using its charging ability to break down walls or destroy enemies.

It's when these abilities are combined that things get interesting. After rescuing the aforementioned goat, we were tasked with rescuing villages who had been imprisoned by the Doza. There were various puzzles to solve along the way, the first of which required using Captain Monkfish's harpoon gun to aim a giant magnifying glass at a set of explosive crates to blow them up and clear a blocked path. Later, we had to absorb some oil, which we used to set fire to another set of crates, while also using the goat to destroy a group of Doza guarding the trapped villagers.

Behind every cloud is another cloud.
Behind every cloud is another cloud.

Goats also feature in a minigame called Goat Guardians. The goal of the minigame is to protect three characters from mechanical Dozas using Piccolo's special ability. You can choose to move the three characters around, or use goats to destroy the Dozas. It gets more difficult as you progress, with multiple enemies requiring you to think fast and move multiple characters at once. Played cooperatively, it's much easier, because each person can concentrate on one task at a time. The same goes for the rest of the game. While you can play it on your own--switching between Kumulo and Nimbe--playing with a friend and working together to solve puzzles makes it more fun.

Look out for Okabu when it launches on the PlayStation Network later this summer, and keep reading GameSpot for a full review soon.

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