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REVIEW | ACE Team’s “Odyssey” Not Quite The Epic Fantasy

By
Posted on August 6, 2014 AT 07:02am

Does merit still lie in a game filled with many flaws? This question ran through my mind as I played through ACE Team’s latest game Abyss Odyssey. Throughout my experience I came across many hiccups, bugs, and even had my run-through freeze on me during a couple boss battles. At the same time, though, I couldn’t help but be enchanted by the nature of this game. Its visual style, soundtrack, and cryptic storytelling helped keep my interest, even as I became frustrated with every error I came across in this game. Still, can I fully recommend Abyss Odyssey?

Abyss Odyssey has you take control of one of three characters as you drop down a massive sinkhole that has appeared at three different sites. Down below at the bottom is the Warlock, the master of the Abyss and the one responsible for the carnage that has appeared amongst the land. Your goal is to reach the bottom and destroy the Warlock, while defeating his minions along the way. It’s not an easy task, and the way the game sets it it feels like failure is but a smack or a stab away.

As you play you level up your characters, adding new techniques and power-ups that will help you on your journey. You can collect new weapons and charms to help defeat the creatures that lie beneath the surface, not to mention terrains that will do just about anything to cause you harm. From slippery ice surfaces to menacing plants these worlds are surely out to kill your character.

What makes Abyss Odyssey difficult is its level layout. At times it can feel cookie-cuttered, with worlds looking no different from the last. Soon, however, an area will throw you a curveball, and whether or not it’s a good or bad surprise depends on how the randomly-generated system decides to operate. No two playthroughs are exactly alike, with secret areas, boss battles, and some interesting characters meshed around in different spots every time.

Adding onto the difficulty is the fact that it has no real checkpoint system. If your character dies, a foot soldier will appear in their place, with the objective of reaching an alter as soon as possible added to the already long list of tasks you need to do. If that soldier then dies, then you will have to start all over again from the beginning. Granted the game gets fairly easier as you progress, making the run-through go back quicker, but it can get quite frustrating each time you bite the dust as soon as you appear to be near the Warlock’s doorstep. There is the option of buying checkpoints from the shopkeeper who appears in almost each of the levels, but they come at quite the hefty price. (That, and if you shut off the game they disappear.)

Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of Abyss Odyssey, and the thing that keeps driving me back to play the game, is how it will change as more people defeat the Warlock. On the front cover of the book in the main menu is a medallion, which deteriorates as the number of people who finish a run-through rises. Once destroyed the Warlock will then transform into his next form, bringing forth new items and discoveries to find throughout the layout. It’s an aspect that’s so remarkable that I believe it could be a first in the gaming realm, one that takes hold of the gaming community and rests a greater challenge for them on their shoulders.

In spite of all the good that comes out of Abyss Odyssey, there are many problems that can’t go unnoticed. For one thing fighting off creatures throughout the levels can get tedious and somewhat predictable. Even when Paganini comes around with his fiddle of torment, the battles can be over quite quick. When you’ve leveled up a certain amount these fights can become very one-sided, too easy, and more of a speed bump than a wall you must climb over.

Next is the issue of the graphics, which look very dated for even a last-gen console. I know I give a lot of praise for games that intentionally look retro, but these are the same guys who brought us the beautifully-funny Rock of Ages. They have the ability to create a game that looks as great as it plays, and sadly it doesn’t even live up to their Zeno Clash works. It’s a huge downgrade from a team that knows how to make a great-looking title.

Finally there are the glitches. Many times I found gameplay slowing down to a crawl, with even one instance of the screen freezing for ten seconds as the audio was indicating that action was still taking place. When it came back into motion my character had most of her life drained, forcing me to go into button-mashing mode at a failed attempt to save myself. Maybe it’s because of how the game’s aesthetics were changing from the background, but even still there should still be some sort of coding that smooths over these modifications.

PROS:

  • A new gameplay experience each time
  • Great weapons/leveling system
  • Online/co-op modes add to enjoyment

CONS:

  • Game can be pretty glitchy in areas
  • Battles feel repeated
  • Checkpoint system feels a little cheated

FINAL THOUGHTS:

In the end, the good and bad of Abyss Odyssey tend to even each other out. While it has many flaws, there’s still some fun to be had in ACE Team’s latest, and with its landscape ever-so changing the more people play it the deeper the experience will get. Don’t expect an amazing game from Abyss Odyssey, but do prepare yourself for a decent adventure. Let’s just call this a cautionary recommendation.

FINAL GRADE: 6.0 (out of ten)

PSN review code provided by John Hardin of Atlus

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008, where he is a contributing editor and host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck


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