The Latest

Abyss Odyssey Review

Abyss Odyssey (4)

Gonz’ Take: It’s interesting to see how PCs have been slowly garnering console-centric experiences. This influx stems mostly from indie developers who seek to recreate and even improve classic joypad gaming, though lately even Japanese developers/publishers with little to no prior interest in PCs seem to be joining this new movement. Examples include Square-Enix porting Final Fantasy III and or Nihon Falcom’s western release of Ys on computers.

Abyss Odyssey is the newest case, created by ACE Team of Zeno Clash fame and published by Atlus who until a few years ago focused solely on consoles. Inspired by the likes of Castlevania Symphony of the Night, Abyss spices up the formula by placing greater emphasis on combat and Rogue-like death which forces you to restart the game should your character perish.

While this description may be a case of déjà-vu for those who read our Ascendant review, both titles seem to have as many differences as they do similarities. Combat in Abyss is fast-paced but unlike most games of its genre, it requires forethought, as attacking and turning is not instant and requires the animation to play out. At first I mistook it for a gameplay flaw however I soon realized this is an intentional design limitation by the developers which promotes skill and planning over button mashing.

Abyss Odyssey (2)

This becomes especially apparent in co-op as friendly fire cannot be turned off, thus forcing both players to work as a team. Luckily, any damaged incurred by a friend is a mere fraction of what the enemies cause. It should also be noted that while there is no PvP mode, the creators have gone on record to state this will be added in a future patch.

Dispatching foes grants experience points and exploring the abyss yields gold which can be spent towards purchasing new equipment. Leveling up allows players to challenge greater mobs, learn new abilities or improve existing ones. Should the character die however, you keep the experience earned, but you are forced to restart the game with every dungeon level randomized. Fortunately, players are not automatically introduced to the grim reaper upon losing all health. If killed, your character is replaced by a human soldier who drags our hero to a resurrection shrine but suffers from poor combat skills. Should this last ditch effort fail, players keep their items and experience but are forced to explore the abyss from the very beginning.

As you progress through the game, two new characters and dungeon entrances are unlocked. Each hero plays radically different from the last. Further enhancing the battle mechanics is the ability to capture and play as an enemy. These aren’t simple palette swaps either as they feature specific animations and combat systems to learn.

Abyss Odyssey (7)

For all the wonderful gameplay and features I’m sadly disappointed by Abyss’ controls as it assumes players own an Xbox 360 controller. In-game tutorials and options menus display button prompts from Microsoft’s joypad. While you can indeed play with a keyboard, I could never seem to find a comfortable control scheme. Needless to say, a controller is highly recommended.

The in-game character dialogue features a professionally recorded voicework and generally does a good job at explaining the story. These are complemented with collectable diary pages scattered around the abyss which delve further into the plot.

Abyss Odyssey (8)

Abyss Odyssey was played on the PC and PlayStation 3 with review codes provided by the publisher.

Abyss Odyssey
Platform: PC, PlayStation 3, XBox 360
Developer: ACE Team
Publisher: Atlus Inc.
Release date: July 15th, 2014
Price: $14.99 via Steam, $9.99 current sale price/$14.99 via PSN, $10.49 current sale price, $14.99 XGS
Language(s): English
Robert’s Take: Over the last few years, development teams have embraced the potpourri method of game design, combining an assortment of familiar genres together in an effort to create a distinctive new experience. But much like its execution in the culinary realm, the results of blending an unlikely assortment of elements together is exceedingly tricky. While the occasional instance of synergy can erupt, too often the practice produces another entry in a long list of discordant experiments that’s about as appetizing as a pork belly Popsicle. In concept, Abyss Odyssey sounds like the type of overambitious project that would fall…

Review Overview

Gameplay - 80%
Control - 75%
Aesthetics - 90%
Content - 85%
Accessibility - 80%

82%

Good

Summary : A deep, engaging combat-focused title with plenty of exploration and secrets to unlock. PC players will want to plug in a controller, though.

User Rating: 4.18 ( 6 votes)

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

30 comments

  1. Wow, that’s a review!

    PSA: Don’t forget to read Goncalo’s part by clicking page two at the bottom.

  2. I’m really like the arty style. So beautiful.

    I have to admit Zeno Clash was cool looking but pretty creepy.

  3. Wait, no lolis in it? And it still got an 82%? Must be pretty amazing, then.

    How do you decide what games are worthy of being reviewed by two people?

    • When they need double the page views! 😉

      Wow, wasn’t thinking about buying this until now.

  4. Once again, Robert you nailed it. And Gonz- your half put even more icing on a delicious cake.

    Great review. Reminds of the stuff I would read in gaming magazines.

  5. I just wanted to add that you can use the right sticks for attacks. For me it made the game a bit easier.

  6. Misread my RSS feed and thought the review was for Abe’s Oddysee.

    Walked away happy learning about this game.

  7. I love these two man reviews. Great job, Robert and Gonz!

    (took 10 minutes to read but I read it all)

  8. You whats bullshit about this game? People that preordered were promised a OST. I gave them my cash and still don’t have the music. What gives?

    And allow people to turn off friendly fire. People like options, you know?

    • Yeah, friendly fire should be an option. I hear ACE is working to lessen the impact, but it should be able to be turned off completely.

  9. Much better review than the one at “We got this covered” which got crapped out by some hack reviewer.

    Read it for gems like this:

    “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” I just feel like I should talk to Abyss Odyssey about the rabbits as I hit the uninstall button.”

    “Another issue I had is that movement and combat all feel like they’re in slow motion. The closest comparison I can come up to is the original Virtua Fighter, where everything felt delayed and there was very little flow from one motion to another.”

    Guy doesn’t know the different between speed and animation transitions it seems.

  10. Looks like PC version is the one to get. How about a side by side comparison screenshot?

    • The PC version is almost always better. Maybe it wasn’t the case a few years ago, when games were being ported from console to PC, but know they’re almost always the lead sku.

      Especially since the PS4 and XBox One are basically using PC hardware.

  11. My friend bought this today. I think the combat needs improvement. Like you said, you swing and miss alot. Other than that it’s fun and pretty “out there”.

  12. The game sounds like a crazy mix.

    Good review. There was a bit of overlap, but still pretty cool that you had this ready on release day.

  13. Artwork is both beautiful and creepy. I like it!

    Great review, Robert!

  14. Good work gentleman, you’ve got me very interested in Abyss.

  15. The PC runs better and is cheaper. Looks like I’ll be visiting Steam today.

    btw : I totally thought this was a Japanese game.

  16. I hope there’s no DLC for the game because you didn’t mention any in the review.

  17. Right now there’s no DLC for Abyss Odyssey save for the soundtrack. I have no idea if they plan to add any in the future though.

    • I don’t see any hooks for it. So they’d have to patch it in.

      I’d say unlikely. Most of the time when there’s DLC they plan it and you’ll see the link at launch.

  18. You guys need a third reviewer and I’m available for the work. 😉

    Seriously, how would I go about applying for a writing gig?

  19. Just bought it today. So far, your reviews are pretty spot-on. Fun but combat is a bit funky.

  20. Really been enjoying this game. Reminds me a bit of Vertical Drop Heroes, just a bit more hardcore. Anyone played that one?

  21. hello!,I love your writing very much! proportion we communicate more approximately your article on AOL?
    I require an expert in this space to resolve my problem.
    Maybe that is you! Looking ahead to peer you.

  22. First off I would like to say terrific blog! I had a
    quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your
    head prior to writing. I’ve had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my
    ideas out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any
    recommendations or hints? Thank you!