Dual Review: Abyss Odyssey
Roguelike platformers are seemingly the trend as of late. Tons come out on PC just about weekly, but consoles never really had their roguelike. Well, it’s safe to say that now it does, and it’s a pretty damn good one at that. Abyss Odyssey is a roguelike in every sense of the genre. The game is tough, immensely rewarding and has enough gimmicks to string you along down the abyss, but it’s a shame many people won’t make the journey down due to the lack of a proper tutorial.When diving into Abyss Odyssey, you have a choice of one character at the start, the short swordsman Katrien; others are unlocked along the way by completing certain tasks. Your goal is to fight through the abyss, killing various monsters along the way, all in attempts to have a final face off against the warlock. The main arch of the story is easy enough to comprehend, go kill the guy at the bottom of the pit, but the actual story is a bit more hidden.
The only other way you can delve into the history of Abyss Odyssey is through finding pages from The Warlock’s Journal. The dialogue with A.I. scratches the surface, but the journal pages, which most are easy to find, really paint the picture as to what happened in this fantastical revisioning of 17th century Chile. But, since you do have to find these pages, which are usually random drops from enemies, you may have to play for quite some time to actually find them all. After playing for well over 20 hours, I’ve yet to find two of the journal pages. Is it necessary? Not at all, but the journal pages provide a great deal into the lore. Although the story and how it’s presented leaves a bit to be desired, the gameplay is not only fun, but addicting, especially once you reach high levels with your characters. The actual gameplay is a solid mix between a Smash Bros. and various other roguelike games. You have an stright attack, a launch attack, a launching attack that provides for some nice juggling (especially if playing coop) and a grab attack which also vaults the enemy up into the air.In addition, though, each class has a set of more powerful moves that are specific to the character. For instance, Katrien has wicked fast sword thrusts that, if the button is held, deals continuous damage, whereas the Ghost Monk, has a powerful launching attack with its longsword. But, it’s highly important to dodge and evade attacks because they are just as powerful as you on certain levels. You can spam certain attacks, but especially when playing with bosses, this tactic will be short lived.
Although three characters may seem like a small number, you are also able to capture the souls of enemies and transform into them during battle. By using your mana attack, once an enemy is killed you can pick up their soul and use them to battle their once friendly foes. This add a nice sense of freshness to the gameplay, because each enemy feels quite unique. Loot is aplenty down in the Abyss, but most of it you won’t be able to even pick up. Whether it be the wrong character class, each character can only use his/her specific weapon type, or simply because it’s exactly the same weapon you already have, it can be quite discouraging. Also, not having the ability to sell back loot is quite a drawback because it forces you to spend your money sparingly, which does introduce an interesting dynamic. One aspect of the game in which I hated early on was not having save points, but it wouldn’t be a roguelike if there weren’t some serious consequences. Instead, you have to buy pricey camp talismans which allow you to spawn back at that location, but only for the specified number of times.
Right off the bat it’s easy to see that ACE Team took immense care in selecting a fantastic art style, especially for the backgrounds. They are such a joy to look at and really pull you into each very different location down the Abyss. Having said that, the main character looks a little bit off. It doesn’t look bad by any stretch of the imagination, I just don’t feel that it goes well with how great the backgrounds are. But, overall, the art style is spot on. With varied locations, the team was able to supplant great use of color in the game, something that has seemingly gone out the window with current games. And now, the one aspect of the game that pulls it down slightly, optimization. Now, while only happening in loading screen when entering the dungeon and very rarely against a large number of enemies, there is some readily apparent screen-tearing and some severe FPS drops. Although it didn’t directly affect the gameplay in any way, it’s a shame the game wasn’t perfectly optimized to avoid this occurrence.
Final Verdict: 8/10
Abyss Odyssey is a solid roguelike platformer that allows for repeated playthroughs and will have you happily jumping down the Abyss to rid 17th century Chile of the Warlock. The game has its issues in randomly poor optimization, but when it shines, it’s a game that can keep you playing for hours on end. And it will not only keep you there for some time but will beg you to come back, and at $15, who’s to say no?
+ Art design
+ Fun Coop
+ Play as enemies
+ Addicting combat
– Can’t sell loot
– Screentearing and FPS drops
Abyss Odyssey is Developed by ACE Team, published by Atlus and retails for $14.99 on PS3, Xbox 360 and Pc.
By Joey Lampe | Editor
Abyss Odyssey off the jump feels exactly how you would expect a 2-D side scroller should play, with the ability to combo into special moves and air juggles. Making the combat in Abyss Odyssey feel grand for such a title as you would expect the game to be far simpler then meets the eye. I really appreciate how Abyss Odyssey doesn’t hold your hand as it really just throws you without a long drawn out tutorial, instead you are taught by animated character guides which teach you what to do as your playing with no actual pausing to break you from the action. They also throw you into the sitations so you’re practically learning as your going. As you head into your first adventure into the Abyss you start to notice that things get real difficult real fast and this is why learning the sword fighting and dodging is important because you will die if you don’t pay attention to what you’re actually doing.
Each floor going down the Abyss is tied to a certain difficulty level which I thought was awesome and sucked at the same time but im not going to knock it on that. There are multiple ways to take down foes if your real smart about going into battles and learn how to kite enemies(for some who may not know what kiting is: it is when your pretty much running with a monster like you would a kite but also inflitcing damage over time.)It definetely made those areas that are hard much more thrilling, so upgrades those weapons! So exploring these harder diffculties do net you cool gear and more gold so you can upgrade your weaponry and skills. Skill upgrades are done through checkpoints in Abyss Odyssey each skill is mapped with the D-pad button, not only do you get to select skills but you also update their attributes and it can make you a lot stronger especially with sword attack skills as you can then add those to your combos for harder hits. Weapons can be purchased before you enter the Abyss but you can find a lot of equipment during your journey that can be more worthwhile then things at the shop.
Be ready to encounter lots of death in Abyss Odyssey and a very novel idea of you reviving as a solider character till you hit a checkpoint comes about, the downside of playing the soldier is that you do not have quick attacks like the main character Katrien and you lose your skills. In return the soldier character has a pistol attack which is very slow, carrys a sword that also swings much slower then the main character, and has a awesome dropkick move straight out of pro wrestling. You know it’s always great dropkicking a monster that’s like twice the size of yourself it makes it all the more epic. Neat idea but execution is poor because checkpoints are far between especially with the random difficulty. Abyss Odyssey does have other characters besides the soldier, but you have to unlock them as you go and you can them select them as you wish. By characters I mean a ton, theres so much the Ace team decided to include a dojo mode so you can test their skills and different moveset.
To add on to that you can play Abyss Odyssey Co-op in either story mode or dojo mode that alone raises the replay value high as the game deserves a afternoon romp with a friend. While the story is not too much to really talk about alone you should be satisfied with the gameplay, something that may bog down your expereince is the performance. At times I saw that when the action got heavy and their where a bunch of characters on the screen the game would start slowing down where you can really take notice, with that said screen tearing also shows its rear head and you will be seeing it alot. Coupled with a weird artstyle while ingame it looks very off putting, the actual 2-D art looks fantastic but the ingame models are ugly as sin which kinda works for the monsters but not for the human characters they look like a mess. For monsters though the ingame models do them favors and gives them a mystical vibe.
Final Verdict: 7/10
Overall Abyss Odyssey feels great and the gameplay alone should hook you and gives you variety to the other bigger titles you been playing. Technical hitches can dampen your expereince if you’re really worried about slowdown and occasional tearing. But for the $14.99 Abyss Odyssey has a lot of content and depth to explore even if it’s just for an afternoon romp.
+ Fun Battle Mechanics
-Ugly ingame models
– Technical issues such as Screen Tearing, and Frame drops.
By Jose Estrella | Managing Editor