Odyssey


Title		Odyssey
Game Type	Platform
Company         Audiogenic, 1995
Players		1
Compatibility 	All
HD Installable  No
Submission      Matthew Horsley

Review
"Odyssey" was released in the autumn of 1995, just as the Amiga market was
starting to stagnate with "Doom" clones. For this reason, "Odyssey" was
something of a godsend. Here, amidst all these games trying to push the
Amiga into doing what a powerful PC could was a game that was a classic
side-on sprite-based platform adventure and was playing to the Amiga's
natural strengths. It wasn't even AGA-only.

In "Odyssey" you control an elf-like central character who must explore
the "Islands of Essence" searching for crystals and keys. The keys are
required to eventually gain access to the castle on the central island
called "Raphus" on which the game implores you to "kill the King!". The
island selection screen is well-presented, with a ghostly see-through hand
allowing you to select which island you want to visit. The game is fairly
non-linear, as you can choose any of the islands to visit, although to
explore some you will need to find certain crystals - more on that
later.

On choosing an island, we find our hero standing in his boat in a
sparkling blue sea at the edge of the island. The gameplay, as mentioned
earlier, is a platform adventure game. The well-drawn and animated main
sprite runs and leaps across the island, climbing the trees and buildings
and fighting the creatures he finds there. As well as this, he will find
many cavern-entrances that allow him into caves on the island that are
explored in the same way.

The islands and their caverns are well-drawn and atmospheric and are
populated by imaginative creatures. A lot of thought has gone into
graphical effects (such as the cave entrance appearing dark when you are
outside and bright and dazzling when you are in the cave itself) and sound
effects (the constant howl of the wind is very atmospheric, although the
fact that it seems to "follow" you into the cavern is a bit of an
oversight). The enemies that our hero encounters include bow-firing
elves, goblins wielding scimitars as large as they are, spiders,
"Morph"-like creatures that grow on trees and the infamous rockmen who
come in all shapes and sizes.

As is common with this type of game, there are many puzzles to solve. As
well as the standard "collect this key to open this door" type, there are
also some puzzles which require a little more thought such as having to
step on a pressure pad to cause an arrow to fire from the ceiling and then
hit that arrow with your sword to make it change direction and fly into an
unreachable button. This adds challenge and variety to the platform-based
action. There are also puzzles which require you to be more than a mere
humanoid swordsman. This is where the aforementioned crystals come in.

"Odyssey"'s gimmick which raises it above the level of so many other fine
platform-adventures is it's shape-shifting feature. Three of the islands
have crystals to be collected, the Crawl Crystal, the Ground Crystal and
the Flight Crystal. There are also further crystals which allow you to use
the power of these crystals to change your shape (via a nice morphing
sillhouette animation) into that of different animals - including
grasshopper, spider, bird and one of the rock-creatures. These creatures
have special abilities - the grasshopper can make huge jumps, the bird can
(of course) fly, the rockman can roll through narrow tunnels -that our
hero will need to conquer the other islands and find the keys to reach the
central island, enter the castle and kill the King!

"Odyssey" is an excellent game that was tragically released at a late
period in the Amiga's history and was thus not given the attention (and
success) that it deserved. It is not perfect - the graphics do not vary
much between islands, some slain enemy creatures simply turn into a "dead"
sprite without much animation and I have encountered a few bugs whilst
playing it on my A1200. However, these are minor quibbles about a game
that is a classic of it's genre.





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