Title: Abyss Odyssey
Platform: Steam, PC, Xbox 360, PS3

Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Adventure, RPG, Platformer, Rogue-like, Brawler
Players: Single player, Co Op

Written by Whistler 15th July 2014

















Published by ATLUS and developed by ACE Team, the guys who brought you the Zeno Clash series; Abyss Odyssey incorporates various elements from side scrolling action reminiscent of Castlevania, to the rogue-like procedurally generated levels akin to Binding of Isaac and even some Co Op brawling thrown into the mix. On paper and from watching trailers, Abyss Odyssey has everything right; but in actuality it doesn’t quite make the final stretch and lands somewhere in between.


The tale is set in 19th Century Chile where the land is plagued by the abyss and horrible demonic forces that are conjured from a powerful warlocks dreams, thankfully his dreams also consisted of three warriors capable of taking his hell army on; Katrien the sword dancer, Ghost Monk, the culmination of several dead warriors, and La Pincoya, a goddess of the land.
























Of course coming from ACE Team, the visuals are very unique (and occasionally unsettling) with small details painting a much bigger picture like keys visibly hanging from the character or animations feeling smooth and well-articulated. Graphics aren’t exactly the next greatest thing since sliced bread, but they’re nice to look at and present a very pleasing backdrop, levels start to look a bit samey but it doesn’t hurt the overall experience.


Abyss Odyssey sports a fairly simple gameplay style, where you (and a buddy) go about reaching the exit of each floor fighting enemies, picking up some loot and dodging your way through the occasional platforming trap in order to delve deeper into the abyss as you make your way to the warlock’s chamber.

Combat is simple and little clunky at times but is pretty enjoyable once you learn the ropes, start picking up your characters special moves and stringing combos together that involves learning what can be blocked, how to dodge correctly and how to come back against sometimes impossible odds.

To help against the odds your characters have a mana bar that slowly fills the more you use your special moves that can be used to perform a super charged attack that not only does a fairly sizable amount of damage but enemies killed with leave behind their souls to be obtained (they can also be bought or found in bonus stages). Press down on the d-pad allows the player to instantly transform into the captured spirits form opening a whole new move set and more importantly, a separate health bar. Granted certain mobs aren’t really all that useful and serve more as bullet sponges while you scavenge some health for your main hero but the mobs do mostly play different with their own unique skill sets, strengths and weaknesses.


While I’ll admit the challenge that comes with each fight does make it interesting, the combat becomes a bit of a mess more often than I’d like with AI spamming certain moves while your almost powerless to do anything except lie on the floor and take it while the game also makes sure you can spam them as they become untouchable when they drop to the floor (chivalry sucks).
























Thankfully unlike say Binding of Isaac, when the player dies you have a 2nd chance at victory, a lowly soldier will temporary replace your hero allowing you to fight off any remaining mobs where you can then make your way to the closes shrine in order to have your hero restored though I wouldn’t recommend relying on this as you only get one revive per shrine for both solo and Co Op plays, can often have floors without them and your soldier isn’t the best fighter.


Just as you feel like you’ve finally mastered the game, Abyss Odyssey has one more trick up its sleeve.

Throughout the floors you’ll see other omnificent shrines with a stone mask dotted around, while at the moments it’s too early to see how much this will affect the overall game; as players in the community defeat the warlock in the final floor the mask will slowly deteriorate which eventually leads to revealing the warlocks next phase which is visually represented in everyone’s playthroughs. Assuming this does actually make a big difference it is a brilliant concept where the game will be ever changing as more players brave the depths causing new enemies and bosses to enter the fray and I am excited to see what comes of it.


Sadly while Abyss Odyssey has a lot of potential, it has a lot of kinks that need sorting out.

As previously mentioned combat is a little clunky but can be ignored, the same applies to movement, seeing as there’s a fair bit of platforming involved, moving around can be a chore as delays in changing direction can be likened to that of Sega’s Virtua Fighter back on the Saturn. It doesn’t seem like much but the controls really do harm the end quality and make what could’ve been an amazing title feel more 50/50.


But hey if you and a comrade take on the abyss then all will be swell like a good Co Op brawler should right? Sadly while it is enjoyable fighting the swarms of horrible machinations together, Co Op only serves to make kinks in the games system a lot more noticeable and a hell of a lot more broken.

For whatever reason the guys at ACE Team decided to implement friendly fire into the mix, whether this was an oversight or a very bad intentional decision it effectively makes Co Op rather tiresome and combat becomes a hectic mess. Now plenty of Co Op brawlers have friendly fire, Castle Crashers has it, the classics like Golden Axe, Final Fight and even my personal favourite Streets of Rage all have it, however there are a handful of major factors in these that make it work; in each of these titles there is plenty of room between players and the camera 98% of the time will ensure players can easily see their character at all times so if you players start hurting each other it’s likely intentional or on the rare occasion.
























Abyss Odyssey is played purely on one plane, while yes there’s jumping and such when it comes to a scrap up you’ll most likely end up accidentally killing each other or having to pull a lot of punches just to avoid hitting each other; if you manage to place yourselves in between enemies it occasionally works but in most cases you’ll either both end up in the middle of a violent mess or will both end up at opposite ends of the screen trying to see if you’re actually hitting anything.

While in local Co Op it’s to be expected, but in Online the camera will always loosely follow player 1 which due to the map layouts and platforming ends up being a hassle; even in combat when you usually won’t be that far from each other will become a hassle as the camera will randomly lock onto either character and the other player will be utterly blind sided and even off screen on occasions.


It’s a shame really, I kept feeling like maybe I just need to give the title a little more time; but after playing for eight hours in total and a sizeable chunk with the Co Op I feel like Abyss Odyssey just falls short of finish line.

It feels like ACE Team’s side scrolling brawler needed a bit more work, it’s not bad, it’s just for every positive point there’s an equally considerable problem that’s needing fixed.

I won’t give up hope on Abyss Odyssey just yet but it really needs to sort it’s stuff out otherwise it’s a an average brawler that set out to create an interesting hybrid genre that forgot everything that made those individual genre elements any good.


 

Pros:    

Simple but enjoyable gameplay,

High tension combat,

Nice visuals,

Community driven gameplay elements.


Cons:   

Crippled Co Op,

Very basic rouge-like elements,

Enemy AI spamming,

Somewhat repetitive.


Final verdict,

Abyss Odyssey lands itself just short and instead scores a 5/10.


Written by,

Whistler

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