Monday, July 21, 2014

Privileged status revoked

ACE Team built up its credentials with me very quickly. After only three releases, Zeno Clash 1 and 2 and Rock of Ages, they went on my short list of developers whose game will be purchased and played without a second thought. None of the three were 'great' games but their quirkiness and creativity far outweighed any of their problems. In other words they were just good enough to play but much better to look at.

Abyss Odyssey sneaked out in the midst of the summer doldrums and I would not have noticed save for one of the dozens of emails that I get from Microsoft and Sony hadn't mentioned it. There was a video of it many months ago and it certainly looked like an ACE game. It attempted to take the visceral first person combat of Zeno Clash and reverse engineer in into a 2D brawler. Not being sure if this was a good idea (and feeling a little cheap) I downloaded the demo before dropping my hard earned 9.99 on the game.

I didn't even make it through the demo, thus saving the 9.99 for something more enjoyable, like throwing the money at a bum or dropping in down the sewer. Abyss Odyssey was terrible. ACE's distinct art style did not make the transition to 2D, leaving the game with an unforgivable generic look. Worse, combat was made almost impossible due to a single asinine decision.

This will be discussed in fighting game terminology as they are a clear source of inspiration for Abyss Odyssey. In a fighting game character models have hit boxes and hurt boxes (spheres in Marvel, but the concept is the same). The hurt box is the space on a character where it can be hit and the hurt box of the move is the area of the move that can do the hurting. When a hit box overlaps a hurt box a move connects. A good move has a larger hit box than its own hurt box.


Hint: that's a really, really good move. Juuuust a little broken.

One other effect is that, for the most part, opposing characters hurt boxes cannot overlap. This keeps one character from simply walking through the other to get to the opposite side of the stage. Abyss Odyssey has no such restriction. Enemies can simply walk through the player. Assuming no one is swinging a sword at the time neither side is hurt but it makes the combat feel completely disconnected. There is absolutely no weight to it which makes timing attacks much more difficult than it needs to be.

After five minutes I gave up, happy that I did not purchase the game.


Instead I have have been putting time into Pixeljunk Shooter, a game that continues to approve with time invested. It builds very well on concepts introduced in the previous levels, gaining both variety and difficulty at just the right rate. In the beginning I only had to contend with lava and water. Then ice was introduced. Then magnetic muck followed by intestinal acids, eggs and bubbles that make controlling the ship impossible. Even better, each of these elements interacts with the other in a specific way.

This is a real game, not some chewing gum twin stick shooter, and my only fear is that it won't be long enough.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm I gave up on Pixeljunk shooter when it was still water and lava... makin' me wanna' go back to it...