Abyss Odyssey Review (PC)
If you gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into you. If you gaze too long into Abyss Odyssey, the new Metroidvania/roguelike/action RPG/fighting game from Atlus, what you're going to find is an experience with many familiar parts, but a whole unlike any other.
Abyss Odyssey dispenses with the overblown stories found in many modern games— all you really need to know is that there's an evil warlock causing a ruckus, and it's up to you to stop it. Those of you who love a good backstory, however, should know that there's much more lore lurking beneath the surface, you just can't be afraid to do some digging to find it.
On the surface, Abyss Odyssey resembles a Metroidvania title, with players acquiring new skills and growing in power as they explore a winding, multi-section dungeon. The twist is that this dungeon shifts and changes upon each re-entry, and that, while your character's power growth is permanent, your equipment and items are not, giving things a bit of a roguelike flair to them (though without the crazy difficulty and frustrations the genre is known for). Numerous pathways stand between you and the bottom of the Abyss, each with its own perils, pitfalls, and plunder to be discovered. There's also a great community component at work, here— as players continue to play Abyss Odyssey, its developers add new challenges for them to overcome. Once these challenges have been completed, new game content gets unlocked. Since it's early in Abyss Odyssey's life it isn't clear just how deep this community-driven rabbit hole can go, but so far it seems to be an interesting way to expand game content.
Whenever you're not dodging the countless traps lining the Abyss, you'll be fighting gaggles of golems, slews of skeletons, and buttloads of bad guys. There’s a wonderful variety of enemy types here, both in terms of aesthetics and actual gameplay. Experienced players will delight over the tons of different enemy attacks to dodge and weaknesses to learn/exploit. Battles play out similarly to, oddly enough, matches of Super Smash Bros. You're not trying to ring out your opponents, but your flexible movements, direction-based attacks, and guard system are all reminiscent of Nintendo's flagship fighting franchise.
Main characters Katrien, the rapier wielding swordswoman, Ghost Monk, the enigmatic samurai, and Pincoya, the scantily-clad polearm master, all have their own distinct playstyles to offer players looking to keep combat fresh. In addition, as you progress through the Abyss you'll acquire tokens that let you transform into your enemies, again opening up a whole slew of new techniques to master. Abyss Odyssey's combat is easy to pick up, but with the numerous characters and attacks, and the intricacies of advanced techniques like parrying and attack canceling, experienced players will find quite a bit to like here. On the downside, the combat can feel oddly-weighted at times, with certain moves feeling too light and floaty, and others too heavy. Good video game combat needs to have a controllable ebb and flow to it, and Abyss Odyssey's battles sometimes feel a bit spastic.
The main campaign offers two-player action for those who like to brawl with a friend, as well as a battle mode which pits up to four players against other. Whether you're fighting with your friends or against them, multiplayer is a wild, fun affair, and will probably continue drawing you in long after you've scoured the campaign's many nooks and crannies.
Even the most hardened of gamers will probably find Abyss Odyssey's art style and sound design to their liking. The characters, locales, and art are all inspired by Chilean-mythology, representing an oft-overlooked culture full of fascinating, vivacious detail. The music, too, is top-notch, with everything from ominous dungeon tunes to pulsing acoustic guitar riffs.
From the very first time you load up the menu it's clear that Abyss Odyssey comes from a place of passion and expertise. Its strange blend of Metroidvania, roguelike, and fighting game elements might turn off those who prefer their gaming experiences to be more straightforward, but anyone who's not too afraid to leap into the unknown abyss will find a finely-crafted, unique experience well worth the jump.
This review was completed with a purchased download of Abyss Odyssey for PC.