Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 21.08.2015

Review for Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition on PlayStation 4

This is ACE Team's first venture onto the PS4, and to any impartial observer of the Chile-based studio's previous output, it wouldn't be unnatural to assume that there was something in the water at the quirky software company's HQ. Abyss Odyssey first appeared on the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC last year and only helped strengthen ACE Team's elevation to 'oddball' status with its surreal story and left-of-centre character design. With the current craze of giving last-gen titles a fresh lick of paint before throwing them back out into the wild for a second shot of fame, it shouldn't be a surprise that Abyss Odyssey has also made that jump with an Extended Dream Edition. Boasting an upgraded 1080p resolution, enhanced move sets, local 4-player multiplayer, and the online drop-in / drop-out co-op option that had been exclusive to the PC version, it's fair to say that the dream has certainly been extended. Is it enough to warrant a second visit, or is it a total nightmare?

Our tale begins with the sudden appearance of a huge, gaping hole in Santiago, Chile (a hometown tragedy for ACE Team no doubt) and while such phenomena would usually be attributed to plate tectonics, it seems that in this instance it's actually the handiwork of a malevolent warlock dozing at the bottom of the abyss, dreaming the kind of dreams that infect reality (we've all done it). Amongst the ensuing chaos, Katrien, a mysterious warrior seemingly armed with insider knowledge of the cavity, pushes through the stricken soldiers battling the foul inhabitants pouring from the opening and jumps in feet-first. While this might seem a fairly reckless approach to tackling the terror within, it soon becomes apparent that Katrien is in fact another manifestation of the warlock's subconscious, possibly signifying some kind of inner turmoil in the napping necromancer. Yep… that'll likely be the contribution of ACE Team's 'Head of Surreal' to the plotline. While the story comes across as all kinds of crazy, the premise is pretty straightforward: battle through the depths in order to reach the lower chamber, help close the fissure for good, then put an end to the chaos with a good old-fashioned warlock battering.

Screenshot for Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition on PlayStation 4

Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition is quite an interesting proposition on paper. A 2D side-scrolling procedurally generated rogue-like adventure, with a levelling up / skill tree system and a combo-driven fighting mechanic akin to the Smash Brothers / Street Fighter series. While having a whole lot of genres shoehorned into one small package isn't a bad thing, it's unfortunate that the game lacks focus and doesn't particularly excel in any one area.

It's a perilous route to the base of the chasm; Katrien comes under constant attack from multiple assailants and is forced into combat by a pair of invisible walls that materialise at either side, becoming a makeshift arena that blocks progress until the foes are vanquished. To further complicate matters, these skirmishes can occur in hazardous areas, such as over a bubbling fire pit or on the surface of a slippery frozen lake. On occasion help can unexpectedly arrive from a stray troop of soldiers, small pockets of resistance unfortunate enough find themselves stranded in a similar predicament. Health can be replenished by either potion or the collection of little red orbs dropped by downed enemies. Likewise, there's a Manna bar that can be charged in a similar fashion which, when full, enables an attack that captures the soul of one of the weakened enemies in the immediate vicinity. Switching between the main character and the captive soul provides an alternate creature with its own set of moves and combos to learn, which can also be treated as an extra life willing to take the brunt of the damage when health is low.

While Manna can take a long time to charge, there's a shortcut to this handy 'soul-grab' manoeuvre that involves walking through a glowing blue door, taking control of a random creature, then facing off against four aggressive enemies two at a time, with victory resulting in a captured soul and a replenished health bar for the primary character.

Screenshot for Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition on PlayStation 4

There are treasure chests and vases littered about the landscape, all laden with coinage that can be exchanged for goods in one of the occasional shops littering the abyss, though it's hard not to question the business sense of anybody who would consider setting up a form of commerce in an unstable rift. While browsing the goods on offer, the option to fight the shopkeeper becomes available. This is a waste of time, as despite it being a requirement for unlocking a trophy titled 'Thief,' the needless death of the poor merchant yields his slayer absolutely nothing. Needless to say it's not a battle worth bothering with, given that the only wrongdoing taking place here is a hideous price mark-up on weaponry.

For a Rogue-like Abyss Odyssey can be forgiving, as the character's demise doesn't completely wipe the slate clean; any money collected on the descent into the chasm remains until spent. That said, there is a perma-death system in play which will throw the player all the way back to the start, though sensible people will purchase a token from the shopkeeper (when available) that can activate one of the frequent checkpoint locations. An opportunity to revive the primary character does present itself in the form of a fairly puny soldier, though it's reliant on successfully finding an altar, which can be particularly irritating when faced against tougher enemies in the lowest chambers. Being as the soldier doesn't have any of the upgraded abilities or weaponry of the main character, it almost always results in failure, which can be frustrating.

The procedurally generated levels and a variety of boss battles combined with two unlockable characters (namely the Ghost Monk and the Pincoya) as well as a community-driven metagame reliant on the number of times the warlock is defeated does add some replay value, however there isn't a massive variety to the level layout, which does unfortunately impact the longevity. The online multiplayer seems fairly barren, but the local 4-player brawls can provide a short burst of entertainment (but are limited to a mere three maps).

Screenshot for Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition on PlayStation 4

There are a few issues that mar the Abyss Odyssey experience, chief of which being the controls, a factor of paramount importance in a game heavily reliant on a fighting mechanic. It's hard to pinpoint the exact problem, but it feels like it could be down to controller lag on the left / right axis which manifests itself in a less-than-fluid response during combat. This often leaves the character facing the wrong way mid-brawl, despite pointing the joystick at the intended target, and makes some of the more finicky platforming / trap-heavy sections much harder than they should be, with the double jump being occasionally problematic.

This controller lag extends to the block button mapped to the left trigger, which always seems to function a good few milliseconds after being depressed, usually at the receiving end of a pummelling. While expectations of a Rogue-like are to provide a tough challenge that ideally should be conquerable by skilled play, there are a few sections deeper down in the abyss that just come across as unfair due to poorly implemented design. For example, there are lengthy gaps that can only be traversed by jumping on a slow-moving horizontal platform. This in itself is easy enough, however the presence of large, inexorable, malevolent blocks which actively track down the player will often create an inescapable loop of getting knocked off the platform into oblivion, only to respawn at the edge of the chasm with slightly less HP. More often than not the lower levels can be reached with a full health bar, so having it all unavoidably whittled down to nothing can be particularly annoying when the most recent checkpoint is a good few levels higher.

Screenshot for Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Despite being let down by the unresponsive controls, Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition remains an oddly compelling experience brimming with a lot of interesting ideas. It's a real shame that ACE Team didn't use this definitive version as an opportunity to fix the numerous issues that plagued the last-gen iterations.

Developer

ACE Team

Publisher

Atlus

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

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

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

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?
RudyC3

There are 1 members online at the moment.