Abyss Odyssey Review
+ Character Progression
+ Character Design
When it comes to developer ACE Team, it’s kind of hard to predict what you get. After all, when your first game is a total conversion mod for DOOM that let you play as Batman, all bets are off. ACE Team’s latest outing is Abyss Odyssey, a 2.5D action-RPG set in a randomly generated dungeon. Luckily for the Chilean developers, Abyss Odyssey is a challenging and fruitiful game.
It seems that over the past few years, action-RPGs have been on the rise. Since the release of Diablo 3 and Path of Exile, there has been a tide of loot-fests and goblins, all seeking to be that next big game. Fortunately, Abyss Odyssey wasn’t made to tread through the sea of action-RPGs, and charts its own course. I say that because Abyss Odyssey is unlike any of these other games, but retains the addictive aspects of the genre: loot, character progression, and exciting combat.
If you’re playing Abyss Odyssey for an epic akin to Beowolf, you’re going to have a bad time. The entire premise behind Abyss Odyssey is that there is a powerful warlock sleeping inside the Earth, and his nightmares have started seeping into the real world. By playing as one of the pawns in his imagination, it is up to you to venture deeper inside the Earth to wake the warlock and stop the demons that are terrorizing the planet. As far as I’m concerned, it’s merely a means to get you into a randomly generated dungeon and fight baddies.
See, you don’t simply click on an enemy to attack. It’s much more involved, and I would say it almost rivals certain fighting games. Encounters in Abyss Odyssey throw you into an arena where you are to face off against two (or more!) enemies. Each of these enemies has a moveset that equals your own, which includes directional attacks, aerial attack, grabs, and various special attacks and movements. Needless to say, each battle is a test of skill that can end as quickly as it begins.
If we want to compare games, the controls remind me of something like Smash Bros., albeit not as fluid nor responsive. It does take awhile to get used to the quirks of the system and determining when you are vulnerable to attacks. That isn’t necessarily a flaw though, because death is a natural part of the abyss. Upon your player’s death, you will then take control of a soldier that can ressurect your character. However, if the soldier dies, you will retain your items and gold but start at the beginning of the game, ready to start again.
The soldier isn’t the only additional character you can play as. In addition to the three main characters, you can also absorb any enemy’s soul with a special attack. By using the soul, you can transform into the chosen enemy with their full ability set. Not only is this ingenious, but some monsters are ridiculously well-suited to certain types of play. I prefer the hard-hitting golem over some of the more magic-based enemies, but they are all good on their own right.
The map of the entire dungeon of each playthrough is available on every floor, along with several different pathways you can take on your way to battle the warlock. There are a few different events you can encounter on the way down, but in order to experience them all you will need to play through the game multiple times. You might come across an ancient King, or a devilish musician that will offer you the deal of a lifetime. More common are the shopkeepers that will sell you powerful artifacts and weapons, or altars to let you customize your special skills. However, I won’t say that the individual stage design is anything worth praising. After several playthroughs, I can easily recognize certain pieces of the floor and there’s a definite copy-paste feeling to them.
Visually, I’m rather unimpressed with how the game looks but I adore the art style. It is inspired by the Art Nouveau movement from the late 19th century, using broad outlines with vibrant colors. The character portraits are particularly impressive. The character designs are what I would call “eccentric” and very strange, to say the least. However, the strange designs give the enemies a wide array of attacks that make them fun to fight. I would love to say the art style translates well to the gameplay, but much of the world simply seemed to fall flat. Some animations are clunky and stiff, and I’m not entirely convinced by the transition to 2.5D. The music, on the other hand, is magnificent. There are aspects of the typical classical RPG music, but they are intertwined with modern instruments that give Abyss Odyssey both a classical and contemporary feel.
Buy, Try, or Avoid?
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Abyss Odyssey, but I am glad I took the plunge. The combat in Abyss Odyssey stands tall even among games in the fighting genre, and the randomized dungeon will give you plenty of reasons to descend into the Earth many times over.
Abyss Odyssey is available on Steam, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3.