Talk about a crossbreed: Abyss Odyssey is a game with an identity crisis in the purest sense of the word. Is it an RPG? An adventure game? A brawler, fighter or metroidvania? Well guess what, this game blends all these genres into one package with impressive results. Sometimes the chaos is too much to bear and some sensory overload causes the game to be a bit too frustrating, but the end result is quite an ambitious and enjoyable ride into the abyss!
From indie Chilean developer ACE Team comes a new side-scrolling action adventure game featuring a complex fighting engine in procedurally generated levels that destines its three warriors to battle a different abyss each time. Bear in mind that these are the same people that brought us the insane “Zeno Clash” and its sequel, as well as the zany “Rock of Ages”, which is a sort of love/hate relationship for some gamers since ACE’s games seem to be built around the bizarre and somewhat abstract notions with Abyss Odyssey being no different.
You start the game with a female warrior fighting alongside a human army against a legion of demonic creatures that seem to be spawning from a newly emerged abyss. It is up to you to dive deep in to the abyss, into its constantly changing floors, in order to reach it’s core and destroy it. While you’re at it, you will unravel the mysteries behind the abyss’s existence and of your role in the whole scheme. Abyss Odyssey is not light on plot even though there is an absence of any solid NPCs, and has a very mysterious mood that keeps you wanting to play more.
Speaking of playing some more, this is one of those games that you get better at the longer you play. You go in, level up, get some coins, uncover some hidden secrets, die then do it all over again. Every time you die, you are armed with an added incentive to conquer the stage that defeated you. The game plays like your standard metroidvania but with a deep fighting system that resembles a brawler with combos and cancels. Each fight resembles a boss fight and can be a bit unfair since even as little as two enemies can be a real challenge. Luckily, the game is built around a community with a drop-in-drop-out multiplayer feature and helpful NPC’s that come to your aid when you need them most.
Dying in Abyss Odyssey is not the end. You can buy the souls of fallen enemies and use them to fight your battles by switching into them mid-battle and when you fall in battle, a simple foot soldier comes to the rescue and continues the fight until he reaches a resurrection altar to bring you back. That same altar can be used to spend skill points, purchase weapons and items and even set up a checkpoint.
The game relies mostly on sword fighting with a few secondary attacks as your support. Asides from jumping and dashing, you use one button to attack, one to fire projectiles and one to block. All these techniques can be chained together to create some spectacular combos that can reduce your enemies to a bloody pulp.
A word of warning: Abyss Odyssey is like a 2D version of “Dark Souls” where each enemy encounter is like a mini-boss fight, health restoration is rare, checkpoints are long and far in between, and for the love of everything, this game requires a gamepad to be enjoyed fully.
Visually the game is gorgeous and the animation is smooth. The controls are tight–maybe a bit too tight–and may cause some awkwardness in initial playthroughs but it gets more natural as the game progresses. The music, effects and speech are well made and the game has a general high production value. Mutliplayer keeps the game alive for a long time and the huge number of unlockables and extra characters is an excellent addition to an already long game.
With a messy but satisfying mash-up of genres along a stylish presentation, Abyss Odyssey is a rare game that successfully blends many genres into a functioning and fun game that can easily become quite addicting. The steep learning curve and surreal settings might drive some people off, but those who are looking for a challenge and something refreshing will feel right at at home.