Sheepo, developed by Kyle Thompson and published by Top Hat Studios, is an indie metroidvania where you are tasked with saving the world by collecting samples of each species of animal. Sheepo was originally released for Windows PC, however it has now been released on console, and it is available on PlayStation, XBox, and Nintendo Switch. For the purpose of this review I was playing the PlayStation 5 version.
In this quirky metroidvania you have to explore to discover and help preserve a variety of creatures on a planet that are dying, meaning that all these species are facing extinction. To save them, you take on the role of Sheepo, a sheep (big surprise) who can shapeshift into the various creatures around it. To save all the animals, you have to find eggs from them to add to the database that is being built, which will ultimately save these endangered species. These eggs are typically guarded by a boss.
Whilst I say that there are bosses in Sheepo, there is no combat, which makes sense because you're trying to save dying species, not kill them. This really brought an extra element of challenge into the game, without which, perhaps it would have been even easier than it already is so I appreciated this pacifist dynamic a lot.
As you traverse the sprawling landscapes and explore the areas you can collect feathers which you can use to upgrade aspects of your sheep to make the journey a little easier. Whilst you gain new abilities as you progress, you don’t as such receive these as upgrades, instead the game gives you the tools you need to pass through an area. For example, if you need to get over a longer area of spikes or need to get up higher, you may find a bird flying around that you can shapeshift into for a short period of time or you may find an earthworm zooming about to allow you to dig below into other areas. I really loved this because it helped me to make sense of the abilities I had and only use each one when the opportunity was given. As you gain new abilities, you need to back track to uncover other areas that you previously couldn’t get to. This is all really typical of the metroidvania genre and it really worked so well - it didn’t feel tedious or monotonous at all and the gameplay kept me engrossed and engaged for the whole time.
Visually and sound wise, Sheepo was a real treat. The art style made me feel like I was in a children's TV program - absolutely stunning and whimsical with a beautiful colour palette and lovely sound effects and music throughout creating a really dreamy experience for me that I couldn’t have enjoyed much more than I did. Sheepo ran incredibly smoothly as well - the controls weren’t clunky or annoying leaving me to appreciate and enjoy the stunning gameplay, mechanics and environment that was given.
I thoroughly enjoyed Sheepo, far more than I expected. For someone who’s a big fan of metroidvanias, Sheepo would be an excellent addition to your library and equally, if you're like me and not a metroidvania buff, you’ll find Sheepo a welcome addition with similarities to games like Hollow Knight and Ori and the Blind Forest but with a far less steep learning curve. I’ve not had a chance to play Ori and the Blind Forest yet but with a few hours of Hollow Knight under my belt - and not successful ones - I would say Sheepo is a happy medium difficulty wise. But for major fans of the metroidvania genre, Sheepo may be a little bit too easy but I hope that doesn’t put people off because you’d be missing out on some really fun and quaint gameplay.
Overall, Sheepo is a game that's absolutely packed to the brim with personality and charm. It’s bursting at the seams with how adorable it is; it boasts great gameplay, fun puzzles and a really enjoyable story. Sheepo was quite a poetic game and has so much to offer and I’m really glad that this wonderful game has now become available to console players.
Lj’s Rating: 4.5 feathers out of 5.
For more information on Sheepo please use the following links...
Many thanks to Jaleo PR for the Review Key.