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Game Info:

Abyss Odyssey
Developed By: ACE Team
Published By: ATLUS
Release Date: July 15th, 2014
Available On: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360
Genre: Action Adventure, Fighting, Platformer, Roguelike
Number of Players: 1-4
ESRB Rating: T for Violence, Partial Nudity
MSRP: $14.99

Thank you ATLUS for sending us this game to review!

Instead of creating a successful franchise and milking it, ACE Team seems to prefer taking on new challenges and not just making new games, but making them in completely different genres. After a unique take on the first person brawler and the comedy action-strategy, their new project tackles the 2D action-platformer fighting-roguelike (I'll explain that mouthful in a moment).  It's also wonderful how the independent developer format gives game creators such freedom.

Abyss Odyssey is a roguelike (which is a genre named after the gaming classic Rogue) in the sense that the dungeon is randomly generated, and death is permanent (though in this case you do keep gold and experience earned).  You jump from area to area in the fashion of a 2D platformer, and battle enemies with the mechanics of a fighting game.  ACE Team claims inspiration from classics like Smash Bros. and Street Fighter.  While it has simple controls, Ace Odyssey features a deceptively deep parrying, blocking, and combo system that makes battles a blast to play.

The story tells of a very powerful Warlock who fell asleep, and whose nightmares have become reality in late 19th century Santiago, Chile.  Huge holes that lead to the Abyss open up before the townspeople, who struggle to deal with the dark creatures it spawns.  As you play, more and more of this story is revealed through pages unlocked in the Warlock's journal (which you can read at any time from the pause menu).  The hero is actually a part of the dream – a part of the Warlock's subconscious who is fighting against him.  She is Katrien, a very skilled fencer who can use many quick attacks to defeat enemies.  She is joined by a Ghost Monk, and Pincoya, a woman who comes from Chilean mythology.  Only Katrien is available from the start, as the others need to be unlocked.

Abyss Odyssey
Highlights:

Strong Points: Great, fluid, and satisfying action combat; Really nice graphics and sound effects; Really fun transformation mechanic where you can play as virtually any enemy; Fun local multiplayer versus mode for classic brawling action; Online and local co-op play; community feature may offer good replay value
Weak Points: Can't save your progress in between plays; relatively short, so time will tell if the community feature pans out
Moral Warnings: Action violence; occult atmosphere; several characters, including one player character, have partial to near-full (but not technically full) nudity

As the characters gain levels, they increase their hit points as well as their skill points.  They also can find skills during their adventure.  Each character can unlock up to six skills, though only three may be assigned to a button combination at one time.  Skill points can be used to upgrade those skills, by adding additional damage, defensive frames, or mana per hit.  You can also increase Special Cancels, which allows you to interrupt an attack in interesting ways, and allows much longer attack combos.  This is critical, and I highly recommend maxing these out right away.

Mana is used for only one thing, but that is a very important thing: transformations.  When mana is maxed out, you can use a very powerful and special attack on the enemy.  If they are killed by the attack or shortly afterwards, they can drop their soul.  Once taken, this soul allows you to transform into this creature.  This is a very powerful ability, and virtually any creature, even bosses, can be transformed into, assuming you are high enough level to do it.  Not only is it fun to fight as the many different enemies (all of which have a very complete moveset), but it can be critical, as this game is no cakewalk, and they in effect offer you an extra life bar – and this can be badly needed in the many challenging areas you go through on your way to waking up the Warlock.

There are a couple of different multiplayer modes.  First, you can play two payer co-op, both locally by plugging in a second controller, or online.  It is highly recommended to use a controller for this game, though keyboard is supported.  Multiplayer works pretty well, though the remote player can appear to stutter at times, but nothing that made it unplayable.  The biggest surprise for me was friendly fire.  You can definitely get in each other's way, though thankfully you don't do a whole lot of damage to each other - but it can add up quick.  This is especially true since other than the small healing globes you get when defeating an enemy, real healing items are rare and hard to come by, so managing your health is a constant struggle.

Abyss Odyssey
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 76%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 6/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Unique to the PC version at this time is a Versus mode.  Rather than fighting through many enemies in a Player vs. Everything (PvE) fashion, you fight against one to three other human opponents.  This mode is very fun, and definitely reminds me a bit of a perhaps darker version of Smash Bros.  Up to four players pummel each other, and each character chooses not only their primary from a smaller list mainly made up of player characters and bosses, but also a second character that they can switch with at the press of a button from a different list of characters made up of mobs found within the game.  Both the larger and smaller list of characters are unlocked when certain progress is made, or enemies are transformed into in the single player mode.  There is not currently online functionality for Versus mode.  In my short time with this mode I found it fun, but no one else in my house enjoys this kind of game (or is old enough to participate).  

And unfortunately, that is one of the few major failings of this game: appropriateness.  If it's not clear by now, I really enjoyed my time with this game.  But there are a few characters who are all but naked.  Pincoya is very pretty, but is wearing what is basically equivalent to a glowing white skin suit.  It is not technically nudity, but it's pretty close.  You can even see her rear end cleavage quite clearly.  There are a small number of other monsters who are similar or worse.  One in particular is bare chested, with a swirl where the nipples would go.  From a distance they look like the real thing - it's only up close that you can tell that it's technically not a nipple, but a swirl.  

Other issues to be aware of is that the game takes place in an occult-like atmosphere.  It is made clear that the Warlock derives his powers from the devil.  There are a couple of other characters, one in particular who plays violin, received his skills from the devil.  (After all, he plays a mean fiddle, right?)  When you meet him, he offers to make a similar deal with you - you can exchange a powerful item for a battle with him later.  On the flip side, the game makes it very clear that the Warlock and his power is evil - and as I said before, from the devil.  Also, the game does a great job of not throwing pentagrams in our face - this is greatly welcome.  It is a pet peeve of ours when games take the lazy way out and use symbolism to create a dark or evil environment - this game makes the abyss feel evil without doing so.  Great job!  Also, one of the entrances is a Catholic Church, which is shown in a positive light.  The priests' response to the Ghost Monk is kind of humorous.  There is violence, as you fight enemies with your weapons, or poison/burn/freeze them.  They disappear in a flash after death.  There is no gore.

Abyss Odyssey is a game that I had a whole lot of fun with, despite it being a little bit short.  It's intended to foster replay value, with a feature where the community can unlock more and more enemies as the global Warlock defeat count goes up and up.  It's a neat idea that will be interesting to watch grow.  The graphics, sound and music is also very nice.  I believe this game has the potential and raw material to be great, assuming the developer continues to support it post release.  Right now it's merely very good.  Once online Versus mode is made available that will help, but I can imagine even more great ideas, if they are open to them.  But unfortunately appropriateness issues, especially the partial nudity, keep me from recommending it without reservation.

Note: Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition is the release of Abyss Odyssey for PS4.  It is virtually identical to the PC Steam release, and is upgraded from the existing console versions in all of the ways that the PC release is superior to the PS3/Xbox 360 releases.  It adds 1080p/60FPS support, the PC's higher resolution artwork, and unlocks the community unlocked content from the Steam version.  The only remaining difference is that the PC version supports resolutions higher than 1080p; other than that, they are otherwise identical.  Being that this review was of the Steam version, everything written here applies to the PS4's Extended Dream Edition as well.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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