Dinner With An Owl Review: Exploring A Nightmare

Indie games leave their developers with a lot of avenues for realizing the vision they sought to realize. That leaves the door open for all kinds of weird and wacky creations. Amongst them is Dinner with an Owl. Created as part of a Game Jam in 2017, it drops you into its world without much rhyme or reason and leaves you to figure out how to escape the titular Owl. With that out of the way, come and join me in this review of Dinner with an Owl.

The title screen

Indie games of all types have, especially in more recent times, become a staple of gaming. Indie games leave the developers with a lot of creative freedom since they don’t have to adhere to any guidelines laid out by big companies. BoringSuburbanDad took that freedom and proceeded to craft today’s game, Dinner with an Owl. A strange little point-and-click game that follows the protagonists struggle to escape a haunted mansion, all the while being confronted with the house’s interesting inhabitants. Is it worth a playthrough? That, I will seek to find out in this review of Dinner with an Owl.

Dinner with an Owl is available on Gamejolt for free.

Dinner with an Owl Snippet

Story – Just A Regular Business Trip

Dinner with an Owl is a story-driven point-and-click game that follows the player character on a business trip that quickly takes a turn for the worse. Since it is such a short game there isn’t much room for character development or character backstory. You are just dropped into this world without much rhyme or reason apart from the fact that your character is on a business trip. The only two relevant characters are you, the player, and the owl. I personally felt quite disconnected from the characters and their problems because there was so little characterization. They serve only as tools you use to get to the end. The butler, Declan, provides you with a weapon, and April, some random woman, gives you the only kind of explanation about what is going on you get during the entire game. I’m not going to go further in-depth concerning the story since it is so short and I don’t want to spoil it completely. In conclusion, I can say that the story serves its purpose well enough but not much more beyond that.

The only kind of exposition you get in the game.

The only kind of exposition you get in the game.

Gameplay – Your Classic Point-And-Click Game

There is only so much you can do with the mechanics of a point-and-click game and Dinner with an Owl certainly doesn’t re-invent the wheel. There’s not much to say here. You can walk around and interact with objects and people. When talking to another character you will be able to choose from a set of dialogue options but your choices don’t affect the trajectory of the story very much. There are some light puzzle elements but the puzzles aren’t very difficult to solve and quite straightforward. In conclusion, I can say that the mechanics, simple as they may be, serve as a decent enough way of exploring the world of Dinner with an Owl.

The other characters.

The other characters.

Graphics And Audio – Simple But Effective

Let’s start with the graphics. As you can see by the pictures featured in this review of Dinner with an Owl, the game isn’t the best looking one around. The characters look especially egregious. They look like zombies or mannequins. I suppose this adds to the creepy atmosphere of the game but that doesn’t make them look any better.  

The audio, however, has a few redeeming qualities. The music especially serves to create a very eerie atmosphere. From the piano music, you hear when first starting the game, to the somber background music that plays over the course of the entire game. It does really help to create a certain sense of unease that stretches over your entire playthrough. One thing you will immediately notice is just how quiet the game is. This makes it all the more jarring when voice acting is suddenly introduced. I’m not gonna lie, it startled me more than I would like to admit when I first played the game.

The graphics don't do the game any favours.

The graphics don’t do the game any favours.

In closing, I can say that the graphics and audio set the mood and tone of the game quite well even if they are very minimalistic. Minimalism is all well and good but there is a point at which it becomes too much and just takes you out of the experience a bit.

Summary
Overall, Dinner with an Owl is a neat little indie game with some interesting ideas. Shame that those ideas get bogged down by basic gameplay and lackluster graphics. One of the few redeeming qualities is the sound design but it doesn't do quite enough to save it from being just a very average game.
Good
  • Good Atmosphere
  • Interesting premise
  • Decent sound design
Bad
  • Lackluster graphics
  • Unengaging gameplay
  • Uninteresting characters
5
Average

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jacovny

Where can I buy this game? I haven’t been able to find it for sale anywhere. Thanks!

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