Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition Review (PS4)

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Developer: Ace Team
Publisher: ATLUS USA

Main Review

Review Context: I do not have much experience with rogue-like games. However, I have played other games with similar gameplay elements, such as Guacamelee, Shank 2, and BloodRayne: Betrayal.
Date of Playthrough: August 1, 2015
Disclosure: This review was based off of a review copy provided by ATLUS.

Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition is a remastered version of the original game, which was released last year on the last generation consoles and windows. It is a rogue-like style game with procedural generated levels. This means that after death, level layouts, enemies you encounter, and the goodies you find will be considerably different. The story is pretty straight forward; a warlock’s dreams is negatively infecting reality and it’s up to Katrien, a formidable warrior actually created from the warlock’s dreams, to venture deep into the abyss to find and defeat said warlock. This premise is not very original, but a solid gameplay experience is what players look for most in this type of game. So the burning question is, does Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition prove to be another solid entry in the rogue-like genre, or does it fall a bit short?

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This game’s visuals are not quite next gen, but they received noticeable upgrades from the last gen version. The game’s resolution is now 1080p native, and because of this, character models and environments are more defined. The game utilizes a unique art style inspired by the Nouveau art movement, and I found that this gave off a medieval vibe, which fits well with the tone. One huge negative about the visuals however, is that while the environments do look great, they do not change much as you reach lower levels. This leads to dull, repetitive backgrounds that completely lose their luster in just thirty minutes or so. The game’s presentation overall is solid; the interface is very easy to use, and you can jump between singleplayer and multiplayer modes very quickly. I was very impressed with the very fast load times or lack there of. It’s great to be able to jump back directly into the game after dying, as opposed to having to wait for sixty seconds or more. I loved Abyss Odyssey’s soundtrack. I found that it’s mystical and eerie vibe meshed well with the fantasy elements like the clashing of swords and other weapons in the game. One more thing to note about the sounds in this game is that while the voice acting was minimal, it’s well executed for the brief moments that it presents itself. Overall, I thought that the visuals and sounds brought more character and style to the game as a whole.

Good visuals and sounds are great and all, but is the gameplay up to par? Abyss Odyssey fuses many genres into one; it’s part rogue-like, rpg, action-adventure, and platforming. In the offline single player mode, you can play as Katrien and two other warriors, whom can be unlocked later as you meet certain requirements. I spent most of my playtrough playing as Katrien; she’s quick, agile, and I made great use of her basic and special attacks. I also tried the character who goes by the name of “Ghost Monk.” The fact that his entire moveset and arsenal differed from Katrien really gave me a reason to keep playing as him. The combat mechanics are pretty straightforward, but can be surprisingly deep. You have your regular two hit combo, your upward strike, and your crouched strikes. You also have your special attacks, which are done by pressing both square and triangle together and the desired directional input. Get creative enough, and you can combine the basic and special attacks to pull off some rather amazing combos. If you find you’re still having trouble adapting to the combat, you could always go to training mode, which lets you train to your heart’s content with all the characters you have unlocked. At the start, you only have your basic attacks and one special attack, but as you level up you unlock two additional special attacks. All special attacks can be upgraded with skill points in three categories: damage, magic, and defense. I found that upgrading the magic meter was the most important upgrade, since it allows you fill up your mana meter faster. Filling up your mana meter completely allows you unleash a flashy magic attack, which does considerable damage to enemies caught in it’s path. But wait, that’s not all, whichever monster was hit by your special magic attack is turned into a sort of spiritual talisman, which you can then use to transform into said monster at the touch of a button. It’s important to note however, that once that monster dies, you can no longer use them, so transform wisely.

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While the combat is fun, it took me a while to actually enjoy it due to the occasionally clunky and spotty controls. The attacks can be slow, really slow, and that can be a huge bother when you’re fighting faster and more aggressive enemies. It’s clear that this was done purposefully to up the difficulty, but us gamers would rather fight difficult enemies, not finicky controls. Now I did get the hang of the controls eventually, but if it has to take me twenty or thirty minutes to get accustomed to controls then there’s an obvious flaw there. For a rogue-like style game this is one of the more easier ones.  When you die, you then switch to a backup soldier, whose sole task is to get to the nearest altar to resurrect the main warrior. Now if the backup soldier were to die before reaching the altar, it’s game over, and you either start back from the nearest checkpoint (if you have one set), or back to the main hub world where you have to choose which path you will take to reach the abyss. Having a backup soldier is a fail-safe, but these soldiers are very incompetent in battle, and they do not jump as high, which limits their traversal abilities. Also there were certain moments where soldiers would come to my aid in combat, and with their help, I would completely overwhelm them. This made the game a tad bit too easy at times, and I could definitely see the hardcore rogue-like players being turned off by this. Although, they could always test their might in nightmare mode, in which the enemies are far more aggressive.

There are three paths you can take to the abyss; Santa Luca being the easiest one, Pocuro Park being the second easiest, and Sacramentinos being the hardest of the bunch. To stay alive and reach the warlock, you will have to cleverly manage your money, weapons, and items. Camp tokens are vital; these tokens are very expensive, but they allow you to set checkpoints to avoid starting over. Mana and health potions are also important and hard to come by, so only use them in critical moments. The RPG elements set in when you find or buy weapons and items with elemental attributes. I especially liked the ice swords; these allowed me to momentarily freeze an enemy and get some extra hits in, ‘sub-zero’ (Mortal Kombat) style. There are also some very effective accessories with nice buffs, such as immunity to fire, which certainly help you stay alive longer. Merchants are located near most altars and certain secret spots, and their items are very expensive. You do have the option to fight them, but you do not gain much for doing so. The enemy types are rather unique; they range from tarantulas, large bird-like creatures, and ninjas. Some were fairly easy, while others gave me a run for my money, using clever and annoying tactics to overwhelm me. As far as the bosses go, they were pretty challenging, especially the special bosses. Special bosses have a cutscene play out before the fight and they don’t let up. One in particular had this annoying ability to call forth a demon horse attack, which he would use as a distraction to attack me. The paths you take are broken down into levels. Before you reach a new level there is a lantern post highlighting the levels that await you, special bosses, and the difficulty of each level. I really appreciated this, as it allowed me to carve my own path.

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Multiplayer is where Abyss Odyssey truly shines; there are online and offline options for the multiplayer. Not only can you jump online with a buddy and try to live through the abyss together, but you can also engage in four player ‘no holds barred’ offline combat with a few buddies in the comfort of your own home. There’s also a couch co-op option, as a buddy can just press start and join you as you play the main story offline. I had a blast with the online co-op mode; there’s very little to no lag, and it’s just extremely fun bashing heads in with a buddy or some stranger in another area code. I played with friendly fire on, as it’s the only way to appear on the leaderboards and be able to continue my journey through new game plus. I found that having the friendly fire option on added a new layer of difficulty to the game.. Not only was I trying to attack carefully to avoid hitting my comrade, but I also had to worry about the onslaught of enemies trying to take my head off. Speaking of new game plus, it’s available when you beat the main story both online and offline, so there is definitely a lot of replay value there. Also if you’re one of those players who strives to be at the top of the leaderboards, competition is fierce, so good luck.

All and all, I had quite a bit of fun with Abyss Odyssey. It has its flaws, mainly with the finicky combat controls, the repetitive backgrounds, and at times the game seemed too easy for it’s own good. With that said, the journey was an enjoyable one; I enjoyed how the game allowed me to play my own way and at my own pace. I also appreciated the constantly changing encounters, which really tested me and had me planning out for the trouble ahead. More hardcore rogue-like players might overlook this game for it’s crutches, but I feel this is perfect entry level game for those new to the genre. If you’re looking for a moderately challenging rogue-like game with tons of replay value, give this one a try.

Similar Games Liked:
BloodRayne: Betrayal (PS3)

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