Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition Review

By Shawn Collier on September 13, 2015

The roguelike genre has had a recent resurgence over the past few years. For those who don't know about the genre, they're known for supplying the player with the task of keeping your character alive from the start of the dungeon exploration to the end. And if you end up failing, you have to start all over again from the beginning. Developer ACE Team entered into this genre with last year's Abyss Odyssey on the PS3 and Xbox 360. This year, they have a new upgraded version of the title on the PS4 entitled Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream, which includes updated visuals, multiplayer, a new higher difficulty and new move sets. And while it doesn't fix some of the fundamental issues from the original version, it's easily the definitive version for fans of the original.

Abyss Odyssey takes place in a world that's being torn apart by a powerful warlock whose dreams are seeping into the real world. So the task of stopping him before it's too late ends up falling on a mysterious woman named Katrien and her allies. In an interesting twist, the bulk of the narrative is told not through events in the game but rather via collectibles that are found in the randomly generated levels inside an area called "The Abyss". I personally liked this mechanic because roguelikes tend to have little to no narrative included, so finding a way to include it while keeping true to the genre is a nice touch.

You control one of three playable characters, starting off with one and progressively unlocking the other two as you progress further in the game. Even though the last unlockable character tends to be the better one due to her weapon's range in most instances, all of the characters are balanced enough that they have their own advantages in battle. Each character can level up, which rewards the player with new unlockable special attacks as you progress further in the game. There's also accessories and equipment that can be found in the dungeons that give general stat boosts like you'd expect, but also additionally effects such as adding poison attributes to your attacks or protecting your character from incoming attacks. The catch is that the former stays with you when you die, the but the latter are lost forever.

The big change in Abyss Odyssey compared to other roguelikes is that when a player dies, you control a soldier who's also been sent down into the dungeon tasked with the same task you were given and can be occasionally encountered during the runs inside the dungeons. The catch is that the soldier you control is weaker than any of the three main characters, but still can hold their own to a certain degree. If you die as the soldier it's a game over, but if you run across one of the shrines littered throughout the game as the soldier, you can revive your main character. It's a nice touch that doesn't make the game extremely easy, but still gives the player a second chance if they ended up falling into a bad situation accidentally.

Most players will likely end up needing that second chance mechanic, as the fighting mechanics in Abyss Odyssey are a tad bit unwieldy and feel imprecise as best. The developers implemented the mechanics similar to a fighting game, where you can cancel your normal attacks into a special attack when timed correctly and perform different attacks based on where the analog stick is positioned. Fighting games themselves take quite a bit of work to learn their mechanics on a simple stage, so incorporating all of the myriad of pieces that make up a proper roguelike and including those mechanics almost asks too much of the player. Overall it feels like the mechanics were put into place to show them off, instead of thinking of how the player would interact with them.

Visually, the PS4 port really does a lot to enhanced the beauty of the original version of the game. Abyss Odyssey was already artistic to begin with, utilizing an Art Nouveau style for its characters, enemies, and environments, so a higher-res version just makes that shine even more. Since this is a roguelike, the dungeons are randomly generated but the rooms themselves tend to pull from a more limited repertoire than one would expect from the genre. But since said rooms are quite lavishly detailed to begin with, it's a concession that I don't have much issue with.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition is very much like it's title suggests: an extended version of the original game. Fans of the original and the roguelike genre will likely love what they see here, with the $14.99 price point being fair enough of a price to ask for an upgraded version on a new platform. But the core mechanics, such as the fighting system, still carry over the issues the original title had. If you can overlook those issues, there's a flawed but incredibly enjoyable game hidden in this abyss.

The art style is utterly gorgeous, with the new next-gen version making it come out even more.
The second chance mechanic after dying the first time helps to ease new players into the genre.
Includes an overarching narrative without getting away from what makes a roguelike a roguelike.
The fighting mechanics still ask too much of the player and weren't really modified in this new version.
Feels much more like a expanded version than a more inclusive version.
If you disliked the original, not much here will change your mind.
blog comments powered by Disqus