Staring deeper into the abyss
Released last year on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, Abyss Odyssey delivered a haunting roguelike experience that tasked players with descending through the subterranean depths of a turn-of-the-20th century Chile, seeking to destroy a sleeping Warlock whose living dreams were ravaging the land above his lair. Developer ACE Team’s effort succeeded in crafting a unique and engaging adventure that built its sturdy foundations on fast and accessible combat and an immense focus on replayability. Now, the Warlock’s nightmares have come to haunt PlayStation 4 owners with Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition. Does this enhanced remaster of the 2014 sleeper hit have what it takes to keep you on edge, or is this a lazy port destined to lull all but the most restless adventurers to sleep?
More than a simple 1080p port, Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition brings a few new tricks to the dungeon-delving table including competitive multiplayer, new bosses to tackle, and the addition of a more challenging difficulty mode. New enemies have been added to the mix as well, and old foes have been taught new tricks, making this retooled trek into the abyss feel fresh for seasoned heroes, and even more perilous for newcomers.
For the uninitiated, Abyss Odyssey‘s core gameplay revolves around progressing through the game’s sprawling dungeon, battling an entire bestiary of wild and varied monsters as you work your way ever downward to the Warlock’s chamber. The dungeon itself is randomly generated, and filled with glimmering treasure to collect, shopkeepers to visit, and deadly traps to avoid. If and when you ultimately fall in battle, a soldier from the surface will take your place and can revive the your hero at altars scattered throughout the game’s titular abyss. However, if your hapless foot soldier bites the dust then, in typical roguelike fashion, it’s back to square one with you starting your quest anew from the surface. However, camp tokens purchased at shops can grant you a chance at redemption. Additionally, you can also purchase the souls of foes from shopkeepers, allowing you to take on a wealth of alternate forms, which grant new moves – and more importantly another health bar to rely on – which becomes a great asset when dealing with the game’s punishing bosses.
One of Abyss Odyssey‘s more intriguing aspects is its combat system, which strangely enough feels more akin to Nintendo’s incredibly popular Smash Bros. games than other dungeon crawlers. Combat is simple, with different attacks mapped to standing, crouched, and magic abilities. You’ll typically only encounter a handful of foes at one time, and each hit provides a satisfying sense of weight, making the melees feel visceral and exciting. Unfortunately, the combat isn’t without its quirks, as the game’s rather stiff controls oftentimes work against you, making turning around to defend your exposed back difficult at times. This problem also bleeds over into the game’s simple platforming segments, causing us to eat more than our fair share of swinging pendulum as we wrestled with the with floaty jumping mechanics. While hardly a game breaker, it’s somewhat disappointing these nagging issues haven’t been addressed in the year since the game’s debut.
In terms of presentation, Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition‘s 1080p facelift looks very nice. The game’s varied environments, that range from dank caverns to frozen catacombs and vine-choked gardens, all impress when compared to last year’s release on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. While the character models themselves aren’t the most detailed, their imaginative designs and impressive animations look great and help pull you into the warlock’s twisted world. Interestingly, while the game keeps a solid frame rate during the game’s frantic fighting segments, it’s not uncommon for the action to become bogged down when traversing the dungeon, especially when objects appear in the foreground. Thankfully, these fits and stops are typically over within seconds, but it’s still a shame to see, especially considering the game itself is far from a visual powerhouse.
Technical gripes aside, Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition is still an immensely addicting experience. There’s a mountain of content to dig through, and multiple characters to unlock, each with their own distinct moves and play styles to master. The new competitive multiplayer mode won’t replace Smash Bros. or Guilty Gear as your go-to online slugfest, but going head-to-head with players in local and online melees is a fun distraction from the game’s campaign. Additionally, the new bosses and unforgiving difficulty mode will challenge even the most battle-scarred adventurers, and are well worth scoping out even if you’ve already hacked and slashed your way through the last-gen version of Abyss Odyssey.
If you’ve yet to set foot in the warlock’s abyss, there’s no better time than the present. ACE Team’s unique recipe for roguelike adventure is just as potent of a brew as it was when we first experienced it. While it’s not without a few nagging flaws, the game’s occasional gaffes are easy to overlook when considering just how infectiously addicting it is, with a dynamic quest that’s bound to keep you coming back for more. If you’re looking for a fresh and unique take on the genre, look no further than Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition.
Final Verdict: 4 / 5
Available on: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed); Publisher: Atlus; Developer: ACE Team; Players: 1-2 local (1-4 online); Released: July 28th, 2015; Genre: Adventure; MSRP: $14.99
Note: This review is based on a PlayStation 4 review copy provided by the game’s publisher, Atlus.