Odyssey: The Search for Ulysses

 

Genre:     Action Adventure

Developer:   In Utero

Publisher:   Dreamcatcher Interactive

Released:   2000

PC Requirements:   Pentium 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, Windows 95/98, 3D accelerator card, Microsoft DirectX 7.

Walkthrough   Walkthrough   Walkthrough

 

 

by Jenny100

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 bad.

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.

Bugs...
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 them all.

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 touch.

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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