Beer and Games: The Bruery’s Ebony & Oak and Ibb & Obb

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The ol’ ampersand. That is a ‘&’ symbol if you didn’t know (you are either under 8 years old or a moron). And if you didn’t know that, I would not suggest trying to play Ibb & Obb by any means whatsoever, especially alone. This game will murder you.

But more on that in a minute. This week it is a light barrel aged stout from The Bruery called Ebony & Oak and the indie puzzle platformer Ibb & Obb. Sorry if reading the title of this post was difficult with all the “and’s/&’s” but deal with it.  And yes I know that both these items don’t use the ampersands in their labelled titles.  But what, did you want to read the title as “Ebony and Oak and Ibb and Obb”?  No you didn’t.  You’d have no clue what was going on.

Ebony & Oak is a weird one. If you haven’t heard of The Bruery, they specialize in barrel aging. Most of their beers are barrel aged and they are notorious for having heavy beers. For example their released once a year Bourbon aged imperial stout Black Tuesday comes in around a whopping 19% abv. So what makes Ebony & Oak so unique is the fact that it is a bourbon aged stout with only 8% abv. The Bruery was attempting to take a lot of the characteristics found and loved in these heavy barrel aged stouts (vanilla, boozy, oak) but make it lighter by brewing a lighter stout. Sounds like a good deal to me.

ebonyandoak

Not even a quarter as tasty as it looks.

Ibb & Obb is a cooperative puzzle platformer that has colorful childish looks to it, but damn is it not. Ibb & Obb is secretly a brutal platformer. It does feel a lot like Portal’s puzzle and in particular the coop missions found in Portal 2. Most of the puzzle mechanics rely on the player’s momentum through certain gateways and synching up jumps with your partner. And yes you will want to play with a partner.

See Ibb & Obb is a game where you play as two characters. I would guess their names are Ibb & Obb. There isn’t any story here whatsoever though, so for all I know the 2 characters are named Carlos and Pena-Rodriguez The Third. They are probably named Carlos and Pena-Rodriguez The Third. That is besides the point. Again you need to play cooperatively. There is a single player option but this consists of you controlling both characters individually, each being controlled with an individual thumbstick. I would guess this would work for about the first 5 minutes before you shoot yourself. The difficulty my coop partner and I had getting through the puzzles was hard enough, I can only imagine what it would take going through it alone all while trying to ensure both these characters don’t constantly get blown into a billion bits like they do when the die.

ibbandobb

Looks simple right?

See on paper, Ibb & Obb should be a great experience. And I must say there are moments where you can tell the amount of thought that went into each individual puzzle. I will give the developers major credit there. It is a a great display of level design. But there are some fundamental issues that cause frustration that just shouldn’t be there and are even more frustrating on the fact that they could have been so easily fixed.

For one, no directional pad controls. I get it in the means of playing in single player since there must be 2 movement inputs, but why can’t I use it in multiplayer. For a game that requires certain moments of high accuracy in timed jumps, this quickly becomes an issue. And I don’t know if the controls felt floaty because of the lack of directional pad support, or if they really are that floaty. There were moments it would take a good 10-15 seconds to jump on my partners head, all while he wasn’t moving. You also have no player shadows and a camera that likes to crop a player out a view resulting in jumps from high up with no forewarning of location and ground. And there is the lag which was the sole cause of more than one death. By the way more than one means 300+.

Normally I wouldn’t bash a platformer on its lag, but the fact that the single player is impossible to play successfully and the coop often relies on strict timing between both players, this results in a gamebreaking issue. Yes we both had good connections arrogant reader. Don’t question me. The lag was not our fault. I know this wouldn’t be an issue in local play, but until they can get their net code cleaned up I can’t recommend it.

If you do not heed my warning and do end up playing online I would highly recommend a headset for chat. There is a fun little drawing system which should be used to help each player communicate and brainstorm solutions, but I’m guessing it will more likely be used to draw some profane objects more than anything. In my experience that’s all it was was truly good for. It is a solid profane object drawing game though.

obb2

These 2 guys will make you hate yourself.

And as I mentioned previously, do not let these cute visuals and simple style full you. This game is hard. There were certain moments where it took my partner and I a good 10 minutes to figure out how to proceed. And even when you discover the solution it may be another 5 minutes to actually accomplish this goal due to the difficulty in timing and synching up jumps. I don’t lie to my readers, we did not fully finish the game. And I know you will yell at me about how you can’t review a game unless you finish it. Get over it, I’m reviewing it. For all I know there may be some crazy stuff that happens near the end that totally fixes every complaint I have and makes Ibb & Obb an incredible experience. Naw. Probably just even more difficult puzzles that borderline absolute frustration. Add that with its cutesy visuals you feel as you are being mocked at each death by the game. We got 12 levels in or so ( there are 15 total for the record). I think I’m good.

Sorry I got on a roll there for awhile without any beer talk. Makes sense though cause this beer is highly forgettable. I am not a fan. I really was hoping for something special that wasn’t going to split my liver in 2, but this is far from it. Aroma was fine and it smelled like a stout, the taste though is all water. No barrel whatsoever. No vanilla, no oak, no nothing. Literally tasted like a watered down stout aged in water bottles and then dry hopped with water. I have no clue what happened.

I read online of rumors that the beer may have an infection (something that is common with barrel aging), but I honestly do not know. All I know was the beer I had here was not good and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. One of my biggest disappointments of the year. This beer was hyped as being like a Black Tuesday Lite, but this is nothing like it. I have read reviews of people who have drank it on tap and all of them rave of that it is strong bourbon vanilla and boozy, but by god that can’t be further from the truth.

I still don’t know if it is infected or what, but The Bruery totally missed the mark on this one. Ibb & and Obb definitely has potential. I had fun with it, but it isn’t anything too revolutionary. It is a well designed cooperative puzzle platformer with some very fundamental flaws that almost ruin the experience. As I previously said, I respect the developers puzzle design, but I really wish there were some changes to the programming.

Maybe some patches will be applied along the way that could fix both of the items reviewed this week, but I can’t review that. I have to review what I got, that is how it goes. Not the best pairing I’ve had. Sorry guys!

Ebony & Oak: 2.0/10
Ibb & Obb: 5.5/10

Editors Note: We played a pre-release version of Ibb and Obb that suffered form some lag issues. We fully expect them to be remedied on launch. As Ibb (or Obb – I was the pink one) I actually had a lot of fun. It was difficult, but solving the puzzles was rewarding. In addition we’re under the assumption that our bottle of Ebony and Oak was part of the infected group. So take those two notes into account -Drew.

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Author: Chris Fadeley View all posts by
I am UF alumni and a computer engineer. I know virtually every useless fact about videogames ever. I like computers and potatoes.

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