Abyss Odyssey is the kind of game that only an indie developer could make. Taking elements from platforming, fighting, RPG, and roguelike games then jamming them all together, Abyss Odyssey sounds like some crazy experiment that could only end in disaster. Yet somehow, all of these disparate elements come together to form a unique 2D side scrolling adventure that will entertain and delight almost any gamer, especially those who have become tired of the samey feel that many AAA titles have these days.
Abyss Odyssey comes together to form a unique 2D side scrolling adventure
Abyss Odyssey takes place in the developer’s hometown of Santiago, Chile in the year 1890. You begin by playing as Katrien, a woman on a mission to kill a Warlock at the bottom of the titular abyss. The Warlock is sleeping and his dreams have begun seeping into reality causing the town to be under siege by various creatures emerging from the nearby abyss. The only way to stop the invasion is to travel through the abyss to the Warlock and kill him.
There is a deeper story behind the events happening in Abyss Odyssey, but it is kept behind the scenes to optional unlockables so that the gameplay remains the focus. You start out with only Katrien as a playable character, but two more will unlock through the course of the game. Other characters will become playable as well though, thanks to the way Abyss Odyssey melds fighting game ideas with their side scrolling adventure.
Abyss Odyssey Video Review
The developers at ACE Team have used fighting mechanics to develop every character you see in Abyss Odyssey. Every single enemy or friendly character you encounter has a similar set of moves and special abilities to your own. The strategies that you are using to combat them are also being used against you by the game’s intelligent AI. Every encounter with an enemy ends up feeling like a battle in a fighting game, with you utilizing every ability you have to defeat the tough opponent. While this could have led to the player tiring of conflict and simply avoiding it whenever possible, the combat in Abyss Odyssey feels solid and is fun enough to keep every fight feeling fresh and engaging.
Every single enemy or friendly character you encounter has a similar set of moves and special abilities to your own
If you do tire of the mechanics though, you can mix it up by unlocking new characters to play as. By capturing enemies during the main game you can use them in any mode available in Abyss Odyssey. With single-player story, co-op, and PvP modes accessible from the start, unlocking characters is important if you want to see everything Abyss Odyssey has to offer. These other characters aren’t simple palette swaps either, many of them don’t even walk on two legs, making their playstyle wholly different from any of the three story characters.
On top of the fighting mechanics, Abyss Odyssey layers in roguelike death and level creation. The abyss itself consists of three connected columns with about 12 caverns a piece. Each cavern is procedurally generated, so every playthrough is unique. You can see on the map which caverns are easy, medium, or hard difficulty as well as the occasional special area, such as a mini-boss or treasure room. Deciding whether to search the area for a way across to the other column can lead to an easier path, or a swift death. When you die in Abyss Odyssey, which will happen a lot, you get an extra chance to continue your current adventure. One of the local soldiers takes your place as the playable character, and if you can find an altar you will return to life. The soldier is capable in a fight, but nowhere near as strong as any of the main characters, causing you to plan out encounters more carefully.
The altars that you find are able to serve as checkpoints in case your soldier dies as well. However, this requires you to have a special token that can be purchased at vendors. These can be extremely rare at the beginning of the game, so it is best to assume that each journey will end in either victory, or heading all the way back to the beginning. Later on you unlock alternate entrances to the abyss, which place you slightly closer to the bottom. Along with this bonus a new vendor appears offering better chances at checkpoint tokens. This could make the game feel easier after a while, but ACE Team has a special fix for that.
Abyss Odyssey keeps track of how well the community is doing and adjusts for that. Every time someone makes it to the bottom of the abyss and kills the Warlock the game takes one step closer to amping up the difficulty. After a certain amount of players achieve victory the Warlock will transform, gaining new abilities and fighting moves, and tougher enemies will populate the map. This early in the game’s release we can’t really see the development of this, but it is a great way to keep the game evolving in the future. There is a little concern that the tougher enemies and end boss might make it difficult for new players to join the fun. This is compounded by the fact that Abyss Odyssey does not explain some of its more complicated mechanics, such as how to capture enemies as playable characters.
Once you figure out how everything works Abyss Odyssey is an interesting mashup of fighting game, roguelike, and platforming mechanics that forms an experience like few others. The contrasting elements of the gameplay can take some getting used to, such as controlling a platforming game with fighting maneuvers. However, once you become comfortable Abyss Odyssey feels great and really makes for a unique experience. The game only gets better the more you play, with unlockable characters and robust multiplayer offerings. And with an ever-evolving landscape of enemies, there is no reason to not keep checking in just to see how different the game has become.
- Available On: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
- Published By: Atlus
- Developed By: ACE Team
- Genre: Fantasy, Side Scroller
- US Release Date: July 15th, 2014
- Reviewed On: PC
- Quote: "Abyss Odyssey brings together four great genres into a cohesive 2D side scrolling adventure that will keep your interest and bring you back over and over."