Welcome to Mechanically Beautiful, where we look into the widely debated topic of whether or not video games are considered art. I’m here to say that yes, I do believe video games are a form of art. If you are not a believer of this idea, then maybe these articles will change your mind. But even if they don’t, you will get a chance to hear about and maybe look into some beautiful games in the industry. Today we look at the action platformer called “Abyss Odyssey” by the company ACE Team.
This game is very much a mashup of different genre types that meld together. It has elements of rouge-likes with things like perma death and losing equipment on death, but it also has you delving deep underground in a dungeon crawler style, as well as being a 2-D platformer and having a combat system that requires intense focus. This game was guaranteed to be beautiful from the start. It is published by Atlus, and they never let their games be anything less than a visual feast. The major aspects of beauty is in the characters, the dungeon, and most importantly, the little extra art pieces like the pictures that come up during dialogue.
The main character that you start with is a woman named Katrien. She is a tall and slender with a very intricate pink blouse. Around her legs and waist is some sort of wrapping that resembles leather straps or gauzes, like on a mummy. It looks like she wrapped it there over the tight shorts she most likely has on underneath. Around that is a plate made skirt like object. It’s not a full skirt because these metal strands come down to make it look like a skirt but the metal is not connected. She is also wearing plate greaves and Greek style sandals with netting over her feet. She also has leathers bracers and a long rapier as her default weapon. He face is very soft and gives an elegant feeling to her. Her hair is a dark brown and flows down to her hips. She seems to be influenced heavily by classic Greek and French women. Her armor and hair are like a Greek goddess but a physique like a well groomed French women. She screams perfect beauty in the most elegant of ways.
The second main character is the Ghost Monk. He is a nameless and bodiless, being formed from the the souls of all who died in the Abyss. He has a long dark brown cloak that covers most of his “body.” He does not have arms or legs but he has hands to hold his sword and plate greaves with chains going between them so he can walk around. Under the cloak is a black emptiness with souls of red skeletons moving around inside it. He has a look of the grim reaper and seems to have very little personality to him. The cloak is old and shabby and the greaves are the only kind of armor he has. His whole being has this aura of a forgotten warrior who fights on even beyond the grave.
The last character is Pincoya. She is the hardest of the three to unlock. She is a very sleek and tall women with large hips and a more fearsome face than Katrien. She has massive curling dark brown hair that flows wildly behind her. Her attire is very simple with a light blue sort of body suit that cuts off just above the chest. She has very long gloves that match the suit. She also seems to have a Greek goddess influence behind her, but rather than an elegant women like Katrien she looks more like a battle ready goddess. She wields a giant halberd that is her height with a very fancy axe head on it. She gives a feel of Athena, where as Katrien has more of feel like Aphrodite or Hera. There are also very interesting looking enemies and other characters you meet, but I could go on for hours about them.
The area you enter known as the Abyss is a strange creation made by the warlock that has this natural beauty to it. There are different templates that you see as you travel throughout the Abyss. You see grassy moss like lands as well as icy ruins and rocky lands that look like the underworld of Greek myths. The foreground has traps and strange life growing in it, or in the rock lands, odd shapes to it. The backdrops are of the biggest interest, though. You see things like old ruins recede into space. In the jungle areas you see massive plants growing toward the surface and coming out of giant underground water filled caves. The ice areas will have even more caverns that travel farther and farther back. All of the details to the area you are in make you really wonder what in beyond in the world of the background. There is a huge aura of mystery and strange fantasy to the areas that you go through. The warlocks dreams seem to spawn odd landscapes.
Lastly, the “extra art”, as I dubbed it. This is very hard to explain and get across, so this will be short, but trust me the art to this game is amazing. The character portraits have sweeping forms and beautiful poses for each of the characters with amazing detail. Everyone you speak to has a beautiful hand painted elegance to them. It is very akin to the art style known as art nouveau. You will have to do some research yourself to understand what I mean,but you will understand it if you look up art nouveau. Having such a fantastic mystical feel to this art nouveau style of character design adds a great flavor to the game. Also, although, it does take the nouveau style it very much carries itself on its own merits and fits great into a video game. My absolute favorite character that you meet is this strange violin playing devil man who offers you deals to get power but you must fight him later.
“Abyss Odyssey” is a game that really makes you love the fact that your hobby is video games. Elegance is the word for this game and just beauty in general pours of the game itself. As for my recommendation, this is a tricky one. I would say this game is very much a niche title that will have some people praising it and others despising it. I would say if you enjoy the ideas of rouge-like concepts and dungeon crawling you will probably love it. The platformer part may put some people off, although it is a very minor part to the game. I personally liked it a good deal but wouldn’t say it blew me back. The art direction, however, did blow me back.