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'Abyss Odyssey' feels like a rogue-style 'Castlevania'

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Abyss Odyssey

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Are you a fan of dark toned, side-scrolling games filled with demons and elegant, 3D rendered caverns? Then Abyss Odyssey will certainly be up your alley. Published by Atlus U.S.A. and developed by ACE Team, this game is a 2D side-scrolling adventure game that is considered rogue style. What this means is that the game lacks save points, so if you plan to quit and come back where you left off, it isn’t happening. This adds to a game that is increasingly difficult, and difficult is putting it lightly. The idea is to focus on persistence and replayability as the Abyss Odyssey lacks a “perma-death” aspect. However, that aspect is on the current playthrough.

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In Abyss Odyssey the game blends two mechanics that aren’t normally put together. The game includes RPG elements mixed with fighting game mechanics. Striking, blocking, dodging, and parrying are all used to battle some excellent and horrifying looking enemies through the Abyss. The Abyss, itself, is an underground, ever-changing world that is procedurally generated with each run. There isn’t much of a story other than strange earthquakes happening that open holes in the ground, and your character, a female, shows up and every soldier questions what she is doing there. Basically from there, you head into the Abyss to try and explore, find new weapons, and level up your skills. The levels are short and linear, and there’s not much of an opportunity for exploration.

As for the lack of “perma-death” during your rogue style run in Abyss Odyssey, your character can be brought back to life. Once you die, a soldier that lacks the skills of the main character will take over. If you are lucky enough to find one of the alters to bring back your main character, then all is well. You cannot backtrack in the Abyss, so pressing forward to find a spot to respawn your character is difficult. Enemies will normally pop up in a generated, enclosed area of the level that you cannot leave until defeating them.

Abyss Odyssey runs on the Unreal Engine, but you wouldn’t think so unless it told you. The game looks fantastic with its 3D-rendered backgrounds. The art style is influenced by Chilean lore and mythology, as the enemies look fantastic and different. The entire time playing this game, it felt like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The environment, the enemies, and the controls all pointed to Castlevania. There’s even a level with floating fish that feel much like the Medusa heads in the old games. This reviewer can honestly say that any fan of SOTN should give this game a try.

The game might be difficult, but the A.I. seems to be inconsistent. There will be plenty of times where the enemy will just stand there. The bosses tend to be incredibly hard. Every once in a while your character can do a super move, but that opportunity does not arise often. Blocking and parrying is important, but doesn’t always register. While the game moves and responds well, sometimes during battle your character will face the wrong direction and that can get frustrating. There is an upper attack, middle, and lower attack. It’s cool to be able to use the right stick to attack, but using the actual attack button proves to be quicker and more effective.

There are two more characters that can be unlocked over time. There are also these random special stages that pop up where you will take on enemies while in the form of another enemy. Your character can also have the ability to transform into certain enemies in the game and use their attacks. Skills can be upgraded and weapons can be found along the way that are stronger and have different powers. One thing about the GUI for any of the in-game menus are very hard to read. The skill upgrading is also difficult to understand.

The soundtrack is fantastic in Abyss Odyssey. It’s reminiscent of SOTN, as the entire atmosphere feels like it derives from that game. There isn’t much in terms of sound effects. The enemies don’t have any specific noises. The voice acting isn’t bad, it’s just the stereotypical mesh of anime and off-dialogue. Abyss Odyssey does feature online, drop-in co-op multiplayer. At this time, using the PlayStation 3 version of this game, there was no one online to play with. The same can’t necessarily be said for the Xbox 360 or PC versions, but for a new game, that doesn’t bode well. The thing is co-op would be a huge help for this game.

Abyss Odyssey is going to appeal to a certain audience. If you are one with that audience, you will truly enjoy the experience that this game has to offer. For casual gamers, the difficulty might be too much, but it is an adventure game that you basically just jump into. If you have two people that own the game, the experience should be an improvement. Finally, if you were ever a fan of Symphony of the Night, you should certainly give this a whirl as you will see and hear the similarities between the two. The game sells for $14.99 on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

Positives

+ Excellent musical score

+ Excellent looking graphics and art style

+ Game feels akin to a classic Castlevania game

Negatives

- Difficulty

- Inconsistent A.I.

- Hard to read user interface

A download code was provided for PlayStation 3.

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