“Blending elements from side-scrolling adventure titles with some fairly engaging combat ODYSSEY nestles itself into a unique experience.”
Chilean developer, ACE Team, is weird. If you’ve ever had the privilege of deciphering the mind-fuck that was Zeno Clash, its sequel, or the odd Rock of Ages game then you probably already know this. Their latest title, Abyss Odyssey is no exception as it is deeply steeped in ACE’s quirky broth. On the other hand, Abyss Odyssey is probably also their most grounded game. Blending elements from side-scrolling adventure titles with some fairly engaging combat Odyssey nestles itself into a unique experience.
Let’s get to the basics. Abyss Odyssey tells the story of a Warlock who is dreaming deep within the earth. His nightmares are creating some problems for the surface world and as a benevolent manifestation of his mind, it’s up to you stop him. Straightforward enough, yeah? You start out as Katrien, who is an agile cavalier, but you’ll be able to unlock a couple of other characters as you play.
Mechanically, of course, this means you’ll be dungeon diving deep into a hellscape full of bizarre creatures. Abyss Odyssey lifts ideas from rogue-like platformers such as Spelunky. The hallmarks of these types of games are randomly generated layouts and enemies, as well as various items and secrets to uncover. Abyss follows suit but adds a twist or two the genre. One is the second chance feature meaning that when you die, you’ll take control of a weaker soldier and can attempt to resurrect the main character at an alter. This kind of alleviates some of the frustration. You’ll also be able to keep any gold and experience you gain while playing, however, all items – like unique weapons – won’t. Expect to play a few rounds just to build up a bank in order to have enough to make solid attempt to defeat the final boss.
The big difference, and probably my favorite aspect is the combat. For all practical descriptions, Odyssey implements a fighting style that feels like Smash Bros. of all things. Weird, right? If you’re not familiar with Smash, basically you have a single button attack that can be modified by either pressing up or down on the control stick. Same with special moves. You can also hold a button to block and can dodge as well. Honestly, I kinda hated it at first but it slowly grew on my after a few treks into the abyss. Combat has a very methodical feel because the controls are a bit stiff. You have to factor in animation frames because moves have a second or so to “wind-up”. Jumping into a fight without thinking will only get you so far. Instead, you’ll want to size up your opponents and carefully whittle them down.
And that’s kind of the neat thing. Combat feels fresh and rewarding. All enemies even have a diverse skill set just as you do and battles typically feel like a fighting game of sorts. Furthermore, one of the coolest things about Abyss Odyssey is the ability to use an enemy soul by becoming said enemy. Occasionally, enemies might drop their soul after being defeated and you can then add it into your inventory. You can then play as them and learn their move sets to dominate harder foes!
Other positives include a punchy, atmospheric soundtrack and some imaginative designs. The story is merely passable, but you’ll want to keep playing to see all the crazy enemies and levels. There are also a few secrets to unlock among finding all the playable enemy types. I’ve easily dumped about 10 hours or so over the weekend making multiple runs to end. You can also play with a friend in local or online co-op as well as increase the difficulty for more challenge.
Sadly, Abyss Odyssey isn’t all peaches and cream. Platforming feels pretty bland, especially so because of the randomization of designs. It just feels… off. And the starchy controls aren’t doing any favors for jumping around and dodging traps. It never gets in the way that much but this game would be better if ACE chose to not add platforming sections. Also, while exploration can be rewarding, a lot of items can’t be used. The first few attempts I played, most of the new weapon discoveries could only be used by one of the other unlockable characters and quickly became irritating for me. I was also a bit disappointed with the repetition within level designs, but seeing as this is a smaller title, it’s to be expected that development would be focused on the main gameplay. Overall, these are pretty negligible in the grand scheme but mar an otherwise solid title.
At the end, if you’re not completely tired of the latest rogue-like trend and are up for some great, well-tempered gameplay then Abyss Odyssey is definitely worth a look. Fun, engaging combat mixed with interesting and odd creations keep this game alive for hours.