I don’t normally associate Vikings with mushrooms and flying pigs, but then again life is full of surprises. From the creators of Leo’s Fortune, Oddmar is one of the quirkiest platformers I’ve played this year, one that left me equally charmed, bored, and smiling. It’s also one that controls great using touchscreen controls, an accomplishment all its own. Rather straightforward at first, the game’s eccentric nature and Norse-inspired mythological world kept sucking me back in.
Oddmar is a Viking whose yet to prove himself in battle, living off scraps of the village instead of heading out to fight. One night after being publicly humiliated for his lazy ways, he dreams about an old friend from his childhood, Vaskr, a fellow Viking he hasn’t thought about in years. In the dream they stand before the gates of Valhalla and in a blinding light Oddmar watches Vaskr enter before the gates slam close, barring our hapless hero’s entry.
Our hero realizes he’s unworthy of entering Valhalla, a crushing wake up call to learn that he’s unworthy to join those warriors who came before him. Just when all seems lost, he’s visited by a spirit that promises to make him worthy by granting him a special power: mushrooms! And not just any mushrooms, but magical fungus granting him the ability to jump to new heights and to ascend obstacles that would normally bar his way.
These gifts come with a price, of course, but Oddmar accepts the spirit’s terms and wakes up with a daze. After puzzling over how the dream could have felt so real he looks down and sees a sack resting on his stomach that hadn’t been there before. He opens it up and inside is the key to proving his worth to enter Valhalla and prove to his village he is indeed a true warrior! With his trusty axe and shield he sets out with his newfound gift without a backwards glance.
Oddmar is able to ascend through narrow passageways by jumping from wall to wall using his mushrooms. He’s also able to dig his axe into surfaces to slow his descent if you make a mistake on a jump and start to fall. Similar to Mario, he’s able to kill off enemies by jumping on top of them, but you can also use his axe to slash at your opponents or perform a shield smash by leaping into the air and swiping down for a rapid descent. The axe and jump attacks were the ones I used most; the shield-smash I saved for when I needed an extra boost to jump higher on a trampoline or a flying pig.
You get better air by performing a shield-smash on a flying pig versus just jumping on it, which leaves the poor piggy in a bit of a daze. There are points where you have to shield-smash several pigs in a row to get to the next area – which can be tricky if not timed right.
The game generally looks great, with lush animation and detailed backgrounds. Enemies are odd in design as some are forgettable while others made me wish I could buy a small collectible of it. The strangest was a walking stump who you can either slash or jump on to kill while my favorite had to be the pudgy, ball-like flying pigs with stubby little wings flapping frantically to keep them aloft. The pigs are everywhere since you have to use them to reach newer heights to collect golden triangles and sometimes hidden tokens scattered throughout each stage. Snatch up as many as you can as these are added up and you’re given a time and score that you can try and beat later.
The only enemy who offered any kind of difficulty are hedgehogs that curl up and roll towards you like a wrecking ball. Your only option is to either get out of their way or slash them with the axe; jumping on isn’t an option as you’ll lose health from landing on its spikes.
The stages can be hit-or-miss, with some more challenging than others. One has you riding down a river and jumping onto small platforms to collect golden triangles before riding the rapids again. Towards the end of the level there are spikes located near one of the last platforms that you have to jump to avoid at the last minute. Once you reach the end of the stage you touch a large stone with a golden bird on it that lights up and unlocks the next area for you.
Other areas were your typical “jump from one platform to another,” though the floating bridges of flying pigs is a treat to encounter since it takes timing and precision to get across them. There were other surprises like trying to stay ahead of a rolling boulders and dodging obstacles to reach safety. Challenges like this kept me on my toes, but also made me question how simple much of the game was.
Oddmar may not be the most challenging platformer out there, but it’s definitely one of the prettiest, mobile or otherwise. While I could have used a bit more difficulty and variety in the available stages, at least I wasn’t fighting poor touchscreen controls (they’re actually great for a change!). Anyone who’s played through the available Rayman and Super Mario apps should take a close look at this alternative with Viking flavor; plus, the mere fact it combines Norse mythology with flying pigs is only a bonus!