I finished "Odyssey" last week.
I have mixed feelings about it. Since I don't like vague reviews
myself, there will be some spoiler material incorporated into this review.
So if you hate spoilers, don't read it.
I'm sure some of you will want to know that yes it's keyboard (Gyaaa! -
run and hide, run and hide). But worse than that, it's clumsy keyboard.
Your character will run into invisible boundaries and turn corners when
you don't want him to. Sometimes he will have sense enough not to step off
the edge of a precipice and sometimes he won't. Each time he corks off,
you'll be presented with a view of hooded dead souls inexorably marching
into Hades and a close-up of your character as one of them. This is
interesting the first couple of times, but after that you'll want to hit
the escape key to get directly to the load screen. Fortunately reloading
from a saved game is relatively quick. It could be quicker, but it isn't
Odyssey is third person. It is actually fortunate that there aren't too
many close-ups of your character in this game because he's ugly as a mud
fence. Of course there are plenty of uglier characters in the game, like
the things that eat him. You'll be eaten a lot in this game. The Cyclops
will just pick you up and toss you down the hatch. But the Laestrygonians
will cook you up and serve you for dinner. If you spend 3 days in their
prison, there will be a charming video showing a couple of the big dopes
chomping away at your drumsticks while your headless torso lies on the
dinner table. Chomp Chomp Ptui. It's actually too vague to be truly gory,
but perhaps it's the thought that counts.
One of the more annoying things this game does is to flip the screen
around when you start to move into a different area. You don't have to be
at the edge of the screen for it to shift, and it seems to be rather
unpredictable which way you'll be facing after the shift. This is an
undesirable feature in mazelike areas, such as the Trojan ruins and the
Elysian Fields, which is the "nice" part of hell. The people at Cryo seem
to firmly believe that there are mazes in hell. First we see this in
Atlantis II, and now in Odyssey. I liked the one in Atlantis II better
though. You could walk on the ceiling. The one in Odyssey is outdoors so
of course you can't walk on the ceiling.
The screen-flipping was also particularly annoying outside the Gorgon's
cave, where I was trying to sneak around behind stones near the edge of
the cave and kept having the view shift to outside, even though the
character was still inside. I couldn't see what I was doing and couldn't
even tell which direction I was walking. When I was inside the cave, I
kept running into small rocks which I should have been able to step over,
and having the character turn in a direction I didn't want him to go. And
then of course the charming Ms. Gorgon would see him and zap him and send
him on yet another trip straight to Hades.
Another of the things that annoyed me was that the game wouldn't give you
the chance to run away or hide if you were spotted. Once the Cyclops sees
you, it's all up. The game takes control away from you and you stand there
gawping helplessly as the Cyclops picks you up and it's down the hatch
with you. The Laestrygonians are even worse. They can spot you from clear
across the screen. Then your fingers push in vain at the now-useless arrow
keys as the Laestrygonians stomp over and whomp you flat with their clubs.
It's all quite bloodless though.
I had them. Not too many, but some very annoying ones. For example in the
Elysian Fields, one of the things you must do is deliver a loaf of bread
to some vegetating souls who are lounging by a lake and babbling useless
nonsense. You must deliver the bread before it gets cold. Otherwise you'll
have to do it again. Didn't I mention earlier that the Elysian Fields was
a maze? Yes, that's right - a timed maze. Yech! Now for the bug...
I had a hard time figuring out exactly where to go in that maze. It wasn't
easily mappable because of all the flipping around. One hedge looked so
much like another and I often wasn't sure where I was. I could find the
souls, but not usually on the first try. So I'd go back to the little girl
and get another loaf. 3 times I was able to get the loaf to the souls in
time and guess what? 3 times the game froze as soon as I clicked the loaf
on them. Whatever they were supposed to say after you bring the hot loaf
after first bringing the cold loaf was not loading. The escape key worked
and I was able to reload the game. Eventually it occurred to me that if I
succeeded in bringing them the hot loaf the first time, they might say
something different and maybe it would load properly. Sure enough that's
what happened. If you play this game, just be sure you save as soon as you
get the bread the first time so you can reload from the saved game if you
aren't fast enough with the bread on the first try.
Another buggy place was in the Laestrygonian kitchen sequence. In disgust,
I sought a walkthrough, which said to pick up a certain item. Only I
couldn't see the item. There was a big, weird-looking log with a chain
wrapped around it that was blocking my view of that part of the kitchen.
Surprisingly I was able to walk through this big log instead of having my
character turn a corner as he so often did. But I could not find the
object I needed. Nor could I interact with the log at all to try to move
it. Eventually I went back to a saved game. Behold! The log was no more!
and there was the item I needed, laying there in all its glory! For some
peculiar reason the game had loaded the image of that log instead of the
item I needed. It's too bad it wouldn't let me pick up and use the log the
same way as I was to use the item. That would have been amusing to see.
The last bug worth mentioning took place on Circe's Island. Evil,
murderous Merops got stuck walking into a pig. I considered this a helpful
bug since I didn't want to bother avoiding him all the time. Circe's house
was pretty cool, and I enjoyed exploring it. I also enjoyed leaving the
level knowing that Merops was condemned for all eternity to walk into a
pig. It seemed a fitting punishment for his intention to go and slaughter
So what's good about the game? The graphics for one thing. I suppose some
people would complain that they don't have photorealistic resolution, but
they are varied and imaginative and do a good job of recreating the world
of ancient mythological Greece. You visit several interesting locations in
the game. If you don't know anything about Greek mythology, you might even
learn something (though I can't claim to have learned much myself).
The music in the game was very good. It wasn't distracting and added to
the ambiance of the different locations in the game. It was interesting
how it changed in the land of the Lotus eaters before and after you took
the potion. The look of the place also changed, which I thought was a nice
The voices were decent. Most of them anyway.
The keyboard commands aren't too difficult to learn. Escape gets you the
menu screen where you can save, load, quit, or adjust your game options.
F1 gets you your inventory. F2 puts what you're holding into your
inventory. Spacebar is to talk to someone or pick up an item. In
inventory, spacebar selects an item. Enter makes your character use an
item that he's holding. Arrow keys do what you think they will, moving
your character in the game or moving inventory items around in inventory.
It's pretty straightforward.
Also the game isn't really based on how fast your reflexes are. It's more
about figuring out where to go and how to maneuver than about moving your
fingers at the speed of light. Not all the puzzles are about figuring out
where to go before you are eaten. A few are more typical of what you find
in adventure games. The plot is rather predictable, but there are a few
unexpected things that happen and I enjoyed seeing all the places the
character traveled to in the course of the game.
It's an unusual adventure game. Apparently it uses the same basic game
engine as "Time Machine" and the yet-to-be-published-in-the-USA "Tales of
Chivalry." In a way it reminded me of "Atlantis I: The Lost Tales" because
you're dying so often. Of course you never get eaten in "Atlantis I"
(unless that cannibal chief decides to salvage some street pizza after
shoving you off the cliff). But in both games there's a lot of reloading
of a saved games. Be sure you do save often in "Odyssey." There is space
for 30 saved games and after that you can overwrite earlier games.
Overall Grade: C-
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