Abyss (Wii U) Review

By Joshua Callum Jeffery 14.06.2014 3

Review for Abyss on Wii U

EnjoyUp Games originally published Abyss on Nintendo DSiWare a couple of years ago - back in 2012, reviewed here. It is a little arcade-type game developed by a tiny amount of people. Earlier this year it got the HD treatment, hoping to bring more atmosphere to Wii U at the low price of £1.79. Forgive the proverb, but…Cubed3 is here to discover whether this port lights up the abyss, or whether it will sink and disappear.

The year is 3024 - always a good sign, right? As might be expected, humanity isn't actually doing so hot by this point. Natural resources are running very low and scientists figure it's about time they explored the deepest depths of the ocean to find more. The gallant protagonist is a biomechanical robot called Nep2no, who looks like an alien squid and was developed to withstand the high pressures of the ocean's deepest abysses, but not the abyss' fuzzy walls. Darn. Still, Nep2no is humanity's only hope to find more of the amazing new glowing energy source, "Gaia," from deep in the ocean. With that, it is a matter of 'good luck' to the little alien squid robot!

Screenshot for Abyss on Wii U

The game opens up to some menus that look like they have been made on MS Paint and clearly haven't been optimised for HD either. They are off centre and generally have a thrown together look. They are fuzzy, too, and while the fuzziness may be intentional to give more of a radio-feed feel, it comes off as ugly rather than atmospheric. While this doesn't affect the gameplay, it doesn't instill confidence that this will be the most polished of experiences. The game begins without fanfare after choosing a mode - the only one available to begin with being Mission, which is basically one stage after the other. After beating a stage, the next one is unlocked, and there are 12 stages here in total. Once the gameplay begins, though, the HD treatment begins to show that even the weak design of the robot is "overshadowed" (pun intended) by the relatively strong lighting effects and...

Oh, before there is any time for sightseeing, it should be noted that there's no tutorial of any sort. The player and Nep2no are thrust into the dark abyss of danger without any sort of control instruction. Guess what? Not even the game manual explains the controls! Dropped and sinking towards the sea walls (which always cause damage no matter what), if Nep2no could think, it would probably be thinking "Uh… How do I even operate? Someone really should have told me before sending me on a mission to decide the fate of humanity!" Yes, the controls are simple enough to pick up through the only option of trial and error, but when the game starts out in a situation where leaving the control pad leads to getting damaged, it's a fundamental design flaw. If insisting on having the players work out controls, at least begin the game in a safe environment where they can familiarise themselves with them rather than dropping them floating down onto the damaging stage walls. This also seems like an apt time to mention that Nep2no can withstand many hits from walls so long as it has time to recover afterwards - hitting the wall twice in quick succession means starting over. Oh, and no, it does not explain this in the manual either!

Screenshot for Abyss on Wii U

There are really only two actions anyway: move forward and turn. Holding or carefully tapping an action button (almost any button will do) moves Nep2no forward, and the D-Pad or analogue stick turn it around. As the stages progress and the crevices of the Abyss get narrower or add more gimmicks like moving obstacles and switches, navigation will, of course, become tougher and will require increasingly small and precise movements. Some stages have a large learning curve but ultimately the game is pretty good at teaching the player to be patient as rushing can lead to more frustrating losses and having to start a long stage from scratch again. The urge to rush may be strong but completion will come from patience, which is a challenge in itself. Speaking of difficulty, being stuck in a tiny space can lead to some nasty deaths; there is no forgiveness if Nep2no crashes into the abyss wall and bounces into another wall - that's it. Trying to bounce back into clearer waters away from walls after being hit can be very difficult, so being extra careful in those tiny gaps is important.

Screenshot for Abyss on Wii U

After completing the main Mission mode, 'Dark' mode is unlocked, which is mostly more of the same except with eight Gaia per stage rather than six, and new stage gimmicks are introduced more frequently, as well as stages becoming darker and more atmospheric. It is here, at the game's late stages, that it finally starts to show creative potential through its atmosphere. Unfortunately, it is short lived. There is also a simply thrown together multiplayer side, with one player on the GamePad and the other on the TV. The first player to die loses or the player who collects the most Gaia before anyone makes it to the Goal wins. Players can also crash into one another, but the hit box is very unpredictable, and it's generally a clumsy experience for all the family.

Screenshot for Abyss on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Abyss seems to be trying to hearken back to the Arcade games of old; simple Mission-based stages, basic multiplayer, straightforward but tough-as-nails Arcade mode. It is just not presented with care and comes across as really thrown together. Sure, the gameplay can be occasionally atmospheric and rewards for being patient can be somewhat satisfying. Simplicity may have been the goal, but the manual takes more time to explain the barebones story than even begin to explain the game controls and gimmicks. This game isn't "abyssmal," but Nep2no's mission into darkness could not illuminate this reviewer's heart.

Developer

EnjoyUp

Publisher

EnjoyUp

Genre

Puzzle

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Sounds like you enjoyed it slightly more than Az enjoyed the DSiWare version.

Az, if you're reading this, didn't you finish that version in about an hour or so?? Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Yeah, was a helluva short game on DS. Just those basic 12 levels, and done. Sounds like they added a bunch more new ones for this version, and it definitely needed it. Too simple and short for my liking, but I thought it was decent enough for kids to get to grips with, and it's very cheap. Could do worse for less than a couple of quid.

So the 8 Dark Missions were new additions then? Funnily enough I found the most creative and atmospheric stages to be among their number (they were short lived though as I said in the review). It's a solid title that *works* despite its cheap and occasionally strange design choices, and considering the tiny price point I thought it just better than "mediocre".

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Gabriel PVJ Jones, Insanoflex, justin-p, lukezeppo, Renan

There are 5 members online at the moment.