Exploring a dungeon, gaining experience, finding items - these should all be an easy source of fun. But after playing From the Abyss, why do we feel so cold, so unfulfilled? It isn’t that we stopped enjoying these action-RPG romps of hacking slashery, but rarely have we played a game as purely ordinary as From the Abyss.
It all begins the moment you start the game. When creating your character, you name it, choose one of four body types and one of four color schemes to go with it. And that’s it; your character has as much detail as it ever will. Don’t let the multiple-choice questions at the creation screen fool you; your adventurer has no personality, and with so few choices in customization, the character never feels unique.
The banality continues as the “story” unfolds. An abyss opened up, and there are monsters coming out of it. “Could someone please go in there and kill those guys?” the stereotypically helpless people cry. On top of that stale situation, all your interactions with other characters are just dialogue boxes under static drawings. There’s no town to explore in between trips to the dungeon, just a set of menus that enable you to speak with different people. It’s kind of hard to care about the story when the game puts so little effort into telling it.
At least the dungeon running offers more than just static menus, but it’s still stiflingly shallow. All you do is walk around pressing the attack button, with no puzzles or thought to get in the way of your linear path to the level’s boss. There’s some variation in the enemies, and the difficulty isn't too hard or easy, but the action got old before we even started playing.
One of the few interesting parts is the magic system, which involves capturing new magic attacks from your enemies by mashing the capture button a bunch. The weaker your enemies are, the easier it gets. This adds some strategy to it, but the journey is painfully dull even with this little bit of spice. The same goes for the local Wi-Fi co-op; playing with a friend can make any game more fun, but by that logic, why not just start with a better game?
From the Abyss isn’t a terrible game, but it offends us with its pure mediocrity. So many times, we were left with the feeling that the devs could’ve tried just a little harder, but they didn’t want to move anywhere out of the middle of the road. Maybe your favorite flavor of ice cream is vanilla, but when at least five action-RPGs with more flavor have come to the DS in the last six months, why drop any money on this bland trifle?
Sep 16, 2008