Abyss Odyssey Preview: Hope you love randomly generated worlds and action combat
I had mixed feelings about Abyss Odyssey when I played it at this year's E3. On the one hand, the idea of a fighting game-inspired dungeon crawler is kind of neat. On the other hand, the game's procedurally generated design and simple combat made it seem a tad uninspired. It's fun, and it's environments are kind of cool to run and jump around in, but I'm not sure if it'll be the grand epic some folks may have been hoping for from Zeno Clash developer Ace Team.
Battling enemies is pretty simple. You've got standard melee attacks, but you also have some useful moves that can be triggered with the press of a button and a tilt of the left analog stick. Of course, these attacks are also mapped to the right stick, so if you want to pull them off with a simple flick of the stick, all you have to do is tilt the right stick up, down, left, or right. It's a simple nuance, but one that's appreciated.
Unfortunately, while the intuitive moveset makes for a game that's easy to pick up and play, it could also lead to a bit of repetitiveness. It would be really cool if Abyss Odyssey featured some more complex combinations. As far as I could tell from my time with the game, that's not the case. At least you've got special magic attacks such as projectile fireballs — moves like that should definitely come in handy.
Procedural generation seems to be the norm for a lot of games these days. That's fine, because quite a few titles actually provide solid level designs and enemy placement. At the same time, however, I (along with a few other people, I assume) would love to see a completely hand-designed set of levels, especially from a dev like Ace Team. That's not the case here as stages and enemies are all randomly generated. Sure, you'll get a different experience every time you play, but the level of quality could be unpredictable.
One area where I see Abyss Odyssey truly succeeding is multiplayer. The game features local and online co-op for two players. The hack-and-slash design of this type of game lends itself to couch co-op, and while the inclusion of an online component is a nice addition, playing with a buddy right next to you is always fun.
Abyss Odyssey is due out this summer. The game will be available on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Steam. It probably won't be for everyone, but fans of Ace Team's work hoping for a procedurally generated action game can look forward to exactly that.
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