Abyss Odyssey was developed by ACE Team and published by ATLUS. It was released on Xbox 360 for $14.99 on July 16, 2014. A copy was provided for review purposes.
At first glace, Abyss Odyssey seems relatively simple. It looks like a basic side-scrolling hack and slash game with dungeon-crawling elements, but it is weirdly different. It’s actually more of a rougelike, sporting a combat system better compared to a fighting game than an action one. Taking place inside of a warlock’s dreams, a dungeon of multiple levels has been created, with monsters breaking through the surface and causing destruction to the world above. It’s up to you to take control and put an end to the warlock’s carnage, one floor at a time. Ironically enough, Abyss Odyssey has you descending its depths in hope of reaching the final foe – all while lacking “depth” in the process.
Here’s what we liked:
Combat system — Taking notes from various fighters, the combat uses directional inputs to change which attack you are using. Basic attacks are mapped to one button, and specials to another. After gaining a few skills through game progression, you’ll be able to start chaining them together and unleashing combos. There’s even a cancel ability that you can level up to make comboing more fluid. It’s mostly successful, although once you reach higher levels it becomes increasingly easier to just button mash and get through the game as quickly as possible.
Addicting — Once you master how to properly succeed in combat, Abyss Odyssey becomes hard to put down. Light RPG elements enhance this and encourage you to add modifiers to your special moves when you reach higher levels. You’ll also find chests and other loot, increasing your gold so you can buy better weapons and accessories for your next trip through the dungeons.
Capturing souls — Perhaps the best (and most addicting) part about the game is the capture system. By building up your capture meter, you can capture an enemy soul and use it as a a secondary character you can switch to at any time. You can even capture bosses and use them as secondaries, but enemies must be equal or lower to your level. They all provide completely different ways to play and are a great switch up from the sometimes repetitive gameplay, which can get a little boring.
Visuals and sound — The art and music are both pretty great for an Arcade title. Character animations are smooth, levels pop and the eerie, harrowing tunes wrap up the package nicely. The entire game has style and feels unique, which isn’t always easy to come by.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Repetition — Even though the dungeons are randomly generated, you won’t often see much that changes. After several runs through the abyss, I never once felt like anything was a “new” experience. All areas are your traditional forest/ice/fire levels, and while some paths may vary slightly, they stay mostly unchanged. Rougelikes are based off of the idea of permadeath and seeing how much further you can get the next time you try. The problem with Abyss Odyssey is that you’ll probably beat it in one of your first few attempts. This leaves the game feeling empty to a certain extent. The three different character choices don’t offer enough variety to spice it up, even though the soul-capturing system somewhat offsets this shortcoming.
Too niche — The hardest part about recommending Abyss Odyssey is the simple fact that not a lot of people will enjoy it. Not because it lacks value as a good game, but because it offers a bunch of obscure features and puts them together in one package. A side-scrolling rougelike that focuses on permanent death and replayability, includes a simple fighting game engine, light RPG elements and platforming? And did I mention there is no way to save and quit? It’s a tough sell from description alone.
No “Save and Quit” feature — It could be debated that it’s unnecessary, but a “save and quit” feature really would have helped here. Whenever you quit, you do keep your XP and gold, but you lose any progress you made through the dungeon. It only takes about an hour and a half to reach the final room, but ACE Team could have included a save that was erased upon loading for those that don’t have that much time to play.
Abyss Odyssey is a decent game with a lot of great ideas; they just don’t all come together. Despite having a lot of different gameplay features, it still manages to lack variety and feel repetitive. If you’ve enjoyed other rougelikes and would like something that spices it up a bit, Abyss Odyssey is absolutely for you. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be a whole lot of people.
Score: Try It