Odallus: The Dark Call (2015, PC)

By V Viper / May 14, 2017

I really appreciate what the developers were trying to do with this game. They don't really make these Red Arremer-style games anymore — games that are similar to the Metroid style because of the gradual acquisition of power-ups that open new pathways, but that play more like an action game, with limited lives and checkpoints and separate stages instead of one huge interconnected world. It's nice to go back to that.

   But sheesh, Odallus is not very fun to play, and most of that displeasure comes from the combat. I groan internally when combat situations come up (and they come up a lot), because I really don't want to have to suffer through another awkward fight.
   I don't want to deal with enemies that are the exact right height that my sword slashes go right over their head. Or maybe they're one pixel too far away from the tip of my sword to hit them, despite it looking like the strike connected. Or maybe I did actually hit them, but the feedback is so subdued that I didn't realize I landed the attack.
   I hate having to deal with enemies on awkward ledges that require me to waste my scarce projectile ammo to have a chance of cleanly damaging them; otherwise, I've got to jump up at them and usually get hit during my climbing-up animation, or leap down at them and hope they don't smack me first, since I have no downward strike to give me the initiative. Even Firebrand from Red Arremer on the frigging Game Boy could at least cling to walls or hover and shoot fire from a distance to give him the advantage, but no such luck here.
   And did I mention the enemies tend to not get stunned from attacks at all? And a lot of those enemies are pretty quick. So while you're desperately trying to chop their face off, they'll probably just barrel straight through your attack and straight through your body too. I eventually tried to avoid enemies whenever possible, though you usually can't since they're often blocking your path.
   Even ignoring the combat, you've got these surprisingly large levels with multiple routes and secret areas, but no map to speak of in order to assist navigation. Did you get looped back around to an area you've already been to, or is this a new location that merely looks like a previous one? Where was that blocked-off route that you couldn't enter before because you didn't have the right item? Have fun trying to find out.
   And while you're doing that, you get to enjoy a bunch of absolutely insipid music. Not bad enough to make your ears bleed, but still repetitive and uninspired enough to quickly become grating.
   Luckily, despite other drawbacks, Odallus is beautiful. The art is wonderfully detailed and conveys a very dark and sinister overtone throughout the game. If Odallus has one strong point, this is it, hand down. Unfortunately, this is also what makes the game rather misleading when basing your purchasing decision solely from screenshots.
   Overall, I'd say the issue with Odallus is simply that... it's boring. I never felt excited about the levels, the music never got me pumped, the mechanics aren't refined enough to keep me coming back. It's a dull muddy experience that is carried by some excellent art direction. If you are going to buy this game, I recommend that you watch some videos first. 15 dollars is too steep, but at about 5, I'd say it's right where it needs to be. Regardless, I am not going to recommend this game as it fell short of delivering a memorable and fun experience, and your time could be better spent discovering old Famicom classics you have never played, or replaying the good ones you already know.