Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition on PS4
I first encountered Abyss Odyssey about a year ago, when it was released on the PS3. I suffered through it, painstakingly made my way to the Warlock, before finally tossing it aside and moved on to another game that I felt my time would be better spent on. With Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition, Atlus and ACE Team have rereleased the 2D roguelike platformer on the new generation of consoles, bundled up with all the DLC previously released for the original versions of the game.
Well, here’s the thing: all the DLCs in the world couldn’t save this game from the clunky combat system that has been carried over from the PS3 version. My initial complaints with the original version certainly persist here in Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition. Unlike most fighting games, such as Street Fighter or Tekken, Abyss Odyssey requires players to use the analog stick to direct their attacks towards enemies. While such a system has seen relative success in titles like Super Smash Bros., it is poorly implemented in Abyss Odyssey.
Having to point your character in the right direction before hitting the attack button just highlights how painfully slow your character really is. You can feel the rigidity of your attack strings as you watch your character get knocked back by an equally rigid-looking attack pattern from your enemy before you can even react. To exacerbate matters, your blocks are slow and you’ll usually get hit before your character has time to register the button press and start blocking an attack. As a game that intended to meld the genres of platforming, roguelike, and fighters, Abyss Odyssey totally messed up on the combat front, and the Extended Dream Edition doesn’t do anything to fix that.
Considering that it had been about a full year since I was unceremoniously dumped into the endless abyss, getting reacquainted with the controls was not a very pleasant experience, to say the least. And I imagine it’d be even rougher for those completely new to the game. The first hour of Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition feels more like a battle of wits between the player and the controls, rather than between the player and the levels, as it should be.
Thankfully, though, Abyss Odyssey is a lot more forgiving than a lot of other roguelikes out on the market. If your player character dies, you’ll take control of a generic soldier who has the opportunity to look for a shrine within the abyss to revive your dead character. You’ll also be able to purchase camp tokens and spend them at specific areas of the map to set up a checkpoints. It’s almost as if the game knew players would get easily frustrated if they kept dying due to the rigidity of the laughably bad combat system, and decided to introduce features to help you keep progressing.
In spite of how poorly the game controls, credit should be given where it’s due. With its gorgeous hand-painted watercolor visuals, Abyss Odyssey looked beautiful on the PS3 last year, and it looks even better now on the new generation of consoles. The game’s colorful backgrounds are superficial, sure, but they kept my attention long enough for me to navigate my character from the starting point to the entrance to the next level.
In terms of design, the random nature of the procedurally generated labyrinths definitely works in the game’s favor. Each time you venture into the abyss, you never know what kinds of loot you’re going to find, or what type of people or demons you’ll encounter. For instance, I chanced upon an evil-looking skeleton in a tuxedo that asked if I’d be willing to take his cursed treasure so that he could be free of his prison. And me, being the greedy adventurer that I am, said, why yes of course I’d take your cursed treasure even though you look completely untrustworthy.
The skeleton ended up hunting me down later on because the curse forced him to kill the person he gave the treasure to. The labyrinths are full of interesting, and very hard to kill, NPCs for you to encounter. In that regard, Abyss Odyssey succeeds in keeping the tension precisely because each playthrough is different, and it’s almost impossible to predict what you’ll find this time.
New to the Extended Dream Edition are the 2-player online PVP and 4-player local competitive modes that were exclusive to the PC version of the game. Unfortunately, it proved to be difficult to get an online session going because it was near impossible to find another player online at the same time and, more pressingly, the multiplayer modes seemed to be plagued with connection issues that severely hindered the gameplay.
If you were looking to play Abyss Odyssey with a friend, I’d highly recommend playing it in local co-op instead. Not only is it infinitely more fun to suffer through the terrible combat system with a friend next to you, it also takes away the hassle of having to deal with poor netcode and the inability to even join an online session in the first place.
All in all, Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition is an updated version of the original game, filled with new enemies, bosses, and a nice visual upgrade. All these things are great, but none of them make up for the real problem that made this game so difficult to play through in the first place: the clunky and robotic feel of your characters and their movements. Extended Dream Edition is a regurgitation of the same nightmare that surfaced last year, and I can’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t already utterly enamored with the game’s beautiful aesthetics.