IGN Review of From the Abyss
Darn it, this game is pretty good. That means I can't use this brilliant pun: "Abyssmal." Oh well, I guess I'll just have to be happy with a respectable entry in the ever-growing dungeon diving genre on the DS. From the Abyss sends players into many slightly randomized dungeons, hacking and slashing monsters and collecting items along the way. It doesn't offer much new and there are some interface issues, but fans of the genre will find another fun adventure to delve into.
Games like this typically have an unforgiving level of difficulty, and Abyss is pretty challenging. If you perish in a dungeon you'll lose all of the experience and items you earned along the way. If you're gonna save the world in From the Abyss, you'll have to spend some time level grinding. Each cavern is split into stages and, mercifully, if you exit without dying you'll be able to continue from the last stage you completed.
Each stage of a dungeon is separated into rooms on a grid. The layout of the grid in your game doesn't change, but it will be different for each game. That way, if you do play co-op you'll get a slightly different experience. As you work your way through, the game will automatically plot a map for you, and if you return you'll have that map as a reference. So level grinding in Abyss isn't as tedious as it could be. Abysses have different themes, such as a forest area, a lava area, or an ice area.
The action unfolds on top while your inventory and stats are displayed on the touch screen. Most of the game doesn't utilize the stylus, except for items. Whenever you want to use a potion or equip something you have to take your fingers off the buttons, pull out your stylus, and select the item. It pulls you out of the action and would have been better serviced with button navigation.
The A button is your main attack tool, and you can assign skills to X, Y, and B. Your character has the very useful ability to absorb skills from monsters. Each new beast you encounter will grant you a new skill. If the game is giving you trouble in the beginning, take heart knowing there are zombies in the second abyss that will grant you the "heal" skill.
Players have the option of delving into an abyss with a friend who also owns the game. But this feature is underutilized since you can only revisit areas you've already completed. It would have been cool if you could work through the story cooperatively, but instead this mode is relegated to level grinding and finding some exclusive items.
From the Abyss was developed by Japanese studio Sonic Powered, and everything about the game from the anime art style to the old school gameplay feels very Japanese. All of the action takes place in the dungeon Abysses. You'll probably make a few trips into each area to level up before you're strong enough to defeat the boss. The bosses are usually large and inventive. In between excursions, you can talk to people in town and visit the local shop but you won't control or see your avatar. These portions of the game are presented with menus and still artwork. The art is nice, but many characters only have one or two poses. Would have been nice to switch it up a bit.
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