Abyss Odyssey combines elements of fighting games and 2D platforming to create one of the most unique games I’ve played all year. Abyss Odyssey aims to pave its own path with its procedurally-generated levels. No level will be the same for each player. This ambitious goal is at the center of the game. Abyss Odyssey’s fundamental concept is that no matter how many times you play the game, it always (attempts) to be a fresh experience.
The landscapes and backgrounds throughout the game are created with a colorful art-style that brings out the most vibrant parts of the environments. Although the character models do not look particularly sharp, the environments divert attention away from the less-attractive parts of the game. The playable characters and enemies do benefit from the varied hues and shades though. The variety extends towards the gameplay, where there is just enough of it to keep the (patient) player invested long enough to try out all of the different characters. The enemies will vary even on the same level due to the procedurally-generated mechanics of the game. Different enemies will show up in different places with each start of a level. This brief glimpse into the future of procedurally-generated environments and enemies makes the game ideal for numerous playthroughs.
Patricio Meneses did a splendid job of scoring the game. The music compliments not just the gameplay, but the environments. Each new background is accompanied by fitting music. The music from one environment to the next is fairly similar, but that’s not a bad thing. Meneses probably won’t get a lot of attention for his work on the game, but each and every time I entered a new environment, the music stood out more than even the gameplay.
Bravo to Patricio Meneses.
Cutting the Procedure
Despite the promise of precedurally-generated levels, the lack of content drastically minimizes the effect of the innovative mechanics. Nearly all of the game’s areas feel very similar. The only differences tend to be in the aesthetics and the music. The actual gameplay does a little to mix up the formula, but not enough to save it. At times, the gameplay verges on redundant and repetitive. A level may not be the same two times in a row, but that does not matter if the level lacks interest in the first place. While playing the game, I was not even the slightest bit intrigued about traversing from one level to the next. The lack of variety and depth in the gameplay keeps Abyss Odyssey from being a shining example of the future of procedurally-generated environments.
The majority of the game’s faults could be easily avoided, but for one reason or another, Abyss Odyssey is plagued by head-scratching decisions. For starters, although the game boasts many different playable characters, it takes a really long-time to unlock them. From the time it takes to unlock each character, the player is bound to become absolutely bored with the present character. Even when playing competitive multiplayer, the only playable characters are the ones that you have unlocked yourself, so players are forced to wade through hours and hours of repetitive, shallow gameplay to unlock all of the characters. This problem could be easily avoided if ACE Team had simply sped up the unlocking process.
Like the rest of the game, the co-op shows promise, but it ends up stumbling over its own feet. The cooperative mode has two setbacks that keep it from being truly enjoyable. Unfortunately, both players must remain on the same screen, even when online. Despite the fact that I was playing with people who had their own PCs miles upon miles away, we were forced to stay inside the confines of the same screen. One player is unable to move forward until the other follows and vice-versa. This primitive aspect of the game design virtually ruins the co-op. What happens if you want to go one way, but your counterpart wants to go the other? After all, the procedurally-generated levels should be prime for exploration.
The answer? Absolutely nothing.
To add to the co-op frustrations, you are susceptible to attacks from your partner. There are times when there are several enemies attacking at once, but you have to use caution, because you might hurt your friend instead of the enemy. This crippling feature is impossible to turn off. The co-op would have been much better if players had their own screens, and if they could attack without having to worry about hitting their partner. This simple fix would drastically improve the co-op.
Abyss Odyssey is not necessarily a bad game, but it fails to tap its own potential. ACE Team has some nice cards on the table. I just wish they chose to play them.