On last month’s issue, we had a demo of an exclusive level of Audiogenic’s forthcoming RPG, arcade, fantasy-romp Odyssey. The response to it was quite incredible. Both Audiogenic’s and our phone lines were jammed with people desperate to find out how to complete the fiendish level. Even those who had completed it phoned us to let us know of their triumph.
For all of you who’ve played the demo, let us point out here and now that that level was completely unique to Amiga Format. It is not included in the full game. For those of you wondering what’s going on, let us fill you in.
Odyssey is an arcade-adventure, set in a fantasy-land where success depends on the creative use of crystals to change an elfin hero into various crawling, creeping, flying, bouncing, insect-based and mammalian creatures.
Superficially resembling games like Fury of the Furries or Lost Vikings, Odyssey, is more fun because it exhibits the immediacy and playability of a platformer’s mechanics with an adventure-game’s structure and, therefore, doesn’t slow you down too much when engaged in puzzle-solving, fighting and fleeing.
The goals of the game are simple. You must systematically search and locate the metamorphing crystals from various islands scattered throughout the game’s fantasy land. You can choose from any of three islands at the start. Access to other islands is gained by collecting two or three crystals. What strategy you decide to use here is completely up to you.
And that’s one of the beauties of Odyssey: it doesn’t herd the gamer into pens, in the manner of many a linear adventure-game. Neither does it give too much scope, so that much fruitless time spent wandering around is the order of the day.
Sure, there are parts offering bog-standard, fetch-and-carry duty, such as finding keys to open doors to allow access to other areas. Expected and unavoidable RPG-fare. But they’re counteracted by the ability of the hero to turn into a bird, a spider, a grasshopper, a lion… and use those creatures’ abilities to work his way around seemingly insurmountable problems.
For example, a large, completely unscalable wall is facing you? No problem. Turn into a bird, fly to the top and see what’s on the other side. It’s this flexibility that makes Odyssey so endearing. The visuals complement the action brilliantly. Everyone we showed the game to commented on the excellence of the animation in the bird’s flight.
It resembles a slick cartoon – so much so that on various occasions the Format office reverberated with my voice shouting: "Size of a grasshopper. Size of a lion." and so on. It annoyed everyone anyway (lots of those menacing "don’t you realise we’re on a tortuous deadline" kind of look were in abundance).
The visuals complement the action brilliantly... It resembles a slick cartoon.
That the programmers are big fans of Exile is also evident (check out our CD32 review of Exile on page 66). Indeed, part of the programming-deal and commission struck up with Audiogenic and the programmers was that the programmers be sent the complete solution to said game.
While not as complex or obscure as Exile, Odyssey pays homage to the graphic style and pace of the experience, and also includes a few realistically physical elements, such as having to push heavy rocks on to trips so that previously closed doors remain ajar.
The plot is far simpler too. You have to rescue a wizard from an evil King. The King just happens to reside on the last of the seven islands and to truly stand a chance of completing the last level, you should have all the powers of creature metamorphosis behind you; that is, the previous six islands should be bereft of all crystals.
The inclusion of start-up points should the hero die is also one of those attentions to detail that make the game feel friendly, rather than hateful. Saving between islands is included too. A godsend!
Also pretty smart in this department is the ability of the hero to recover from wounds inflicted by the nasty creatures, his energy bar slowly creeps up towards full health. If you’re patient enough to find a safe place and wait, he’ll recover completely.
So, to recap and add some personal comment, Odyssey is a completely charming romp which is absorbing, enchanting and fairy tale like. For fans of Flashback, Exile, Lost Vikings and Fury of the Furries. Odyssey is definitely a compulsory purchase. Anyone else should just buy it.