Abyss Odyssey (video game review)

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”― Edgar Allan Poe

Abyss Odyssey is developed by indie developer ACE Team and published by Atlus games. It’s the newest rogue-like style action/adventure platformer where experience, levels, and gold are carried over between lives, however, any and all items and gear are forever lost to the Abyss. With procedurally generated 2D side-scrolling levels, no playthrough is ever the same and after the community manages to defeat the final boss enough times, his mask will break to reveal a new form, which will unlock new content such as new enemies and other types of game dynamics.

Death is inevitable and it will come for you and will take many shapes and forms be it enemy, trap, or pitfall. It is almost guaranteed that you will meet your doom by these means in the 15-floor death trap known as the Abyss, but luckily you can bring a friend with local and online drop in/out co-op. Abyss Odyssey has you taking the form of many people and creatures with the goal of reaching a slumbering warlock at the bottom of the dungeon. Slaying him will end the horrors that he endlessly dreams up that have taken real form while haunting the nearby villages and towns. These creatures will take the form of spiders, fallen warriors, witches, zombies, and so many other fiends that would make you shudder if seen in real life.

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Story

1890 Santiago, Chile. Enter Katrien, the first of 3 protagonists you will control. Katrien has a mysterious knowledge of the Abyss which gives her an edge over the creatures that have been killing hundreds of innocents. The local military regiment has been seeking a way to seal the multiple entrances where the creatures, of what can only be described as our darkest nightmares, endlessly emerge from. However every time they try to seal them monsters appear to prevent it; this is where Katrien comes into play. Each protagonist is also forged from the warlock’s nightmare and with that comes some unique abilities such as not fearing death because they exist only to stop the warlock, plus they cannot be permanently killed. There is also a rich backstory told by finding pages of the warlock’s journal which tells his origins, however they are scattered throughtout the Abyss in chests and some are in the clutches of enemies, with some not so willing to part with them.

Graphics

The game features a gorgeous and organic Art Nouveau style which can be seen in every detail from the characters to the gorgeous backdrops and level design. It focuses on 19th century Chilean culture and mythology and the art style definitely complements the setting and gameplay style.

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Gameplay

You gain experience with each kill and every 3 levels you will earn a skill point to upgrade a special move. Special moves have 3 categories for upgrades: damage, mana, and special traits like the ability to mitigate damage or dodge projectiles while using the skill. As you attack you fill a mana gauge. Once filled you can cast a soul capture spell, which is highly damaging and has the potential of capturing the enemy in the form of an item you can equip. The game can be difficult early on due to the low amount of experience gained per enemy and lack of ways to grind a few levels to ease your journey. There are a few big enemies that can speed up the process such as bosses on certain floors, or the local shopkeepers found on almost every floor. These are worth up to 10X normal monster experience if you can defeat them. There are a few randomly chosen rooms during your trek that will have challenges such as clearing a room as a random creature to unlock it, or treasures rooms where you can throw money into a fountain for bonus luck on your current playthrough.

If you are fortunate to reach the bottom floor you are faced with the all powerful warlock who will make quick work of you if you are unprepared. If you fail here it is back to floor 1 again. There are a few items to help you along your journey. You have 3 accessory slots for a necklace, ring, and bracelet that can boost your damage or defense. You also have room to hold 4 items at a time whether they be antidotes, health/mana potions, or the handy checkpoint token that can be used at certain alters to allow a limited number of respawns on your current journey. You are granted a second chance with each death in the form of a local militia man that continues in your steed and if you can make it to a revival alter you will get a second chance on your current journey.

There is also a training room for you to hone your skills with any of the 3 main characters or the 30+ enemies which include bosses that you may have captured, and after your ready there is a 4-man free for all or team based versus modes where you can see who is the best nightmare from the depths of the Abyss.

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Combat

Abyss Odyssey uses combat mechanics from fighting games for its core combat style. You start with 4 directional basic attacks, as you progress you will find up 6 special moves, of which you can equip 3 at a time and can be swapped out and upgraded at special altars scattered throughout your journey. Along with your attacks you also have directional dodges and the ability to guard, which if timed correctly can create attack opportunities or reflect projectiles. The gameplay can feel a bit clunky during the early stages of the game when you do not have a full arsenal at your disposal. In order to combo effectively it takes mastery of your character’s skills, range and frames and knowledge of hit boxes and timing.

If you mash buttons much like a fighting game, you will make due early on but as you progress to the deeper and much more difficult floors you will quickly find all of your attacks either dodged or guarded while the enemies surround you and show you their very painful combos. Each character has their own distinct weapons which only they can equip such as sabres, polearms, and long swords. There is a variety of elemental factors that have extra effects such as charm, curse, poison, fire and ice. These can make all the difference in combat and also certain destructible walls can only be destroyed via opposite element such as using a flame weapon to shatter an ice wall.

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Final Reaction

Abyss Odyssey offers a fresh take on the rogue-like style games that have been popping up more and more recently, with a high attention to detail and unique control style for games of this genre. There are some great features such as unlocked content by community completion, and tons of replayability with the procedurally generated levels so that no two playthroughs are ever the same. Every character from the main protagonists down to the occasional event NPCs and enemies are fully voiced, which was a very nice touch to bring the characters and world to life. The difficulty is high early on but can be controlled based on the route you choose to take while adventuring, and items appear semi often however a good portion of the time you get a weapon that your character can not equip. The items shops are very expensive, and with no option to sell items in my inventory, I was often left with burning potions to make room for other items, or foregoing an item in the shop that would have helped on the journey due to lack of funds. However money does carry over between playthroughs so you have to plan out when to to buy items because death carries the heavy penalty of all items and treasures you currently own. I have cleared the game a few times and I still feel compelled to go back and see what lies in store for me on my next plunge into the depths of the Abyss. The game is great and definitely worth the price of admission, if you enjoy fighting games, platformers, and a challenge that changes and is unpredictable each time then this game is for you.  The game is available for purchase on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 for $14.99.

Rating: 4/5 Atoms

NR 4 Atoms - B

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Jada Griffin
Jada Griffin 334 posts

Legends tell of a princess captured and raised by Ninjas to be their future leader. Jada was trained from an early age to max the luck stat, always strike first and to never surrender.