Abyss Review (DSiWare)

Spanish development studio EnjoyUp Games is going back to basics with its line of simple pick-up and play games for the DS. Check out Glacier928’s review of Snowboard Xtreme and my take on 99 Seconds for more examples of EnjoyUp’s selection. Abyss is just one title in this line, available on the Nintendo eShop for the various DS and 3DS systems for $1.99.

Abyss is one of those titles that aims to take a simple concept and run with it. In this case, you play as a cyclopean creature armed with a light beacon, set to explore a dark, watery environment. Each stage hides six “Gaia Stones” which you need to collect before heading for the exit. More than a mere obstacle to the finish, though, your light beacon will slowly diminish, and can only be rekindled by collecting Gaia Stones. Much like the game’s concept, the controls are extremely simple. You rotate in a clockwise or counter-clockwise motion by pressing right or left, respectively, on the D-Pad or Circle Pad, while pushing any of the face buttons will propel your character forward. Your character accelerates forward and doesn’t come with any brakes, so mastering the game’s movement mechanics will definitely be one of the first things on your list. There aren’t any separate difficulty modes or online play to speak of; in fact, once you beat the game’s 12 missions, there’s very little reason to go back unless you’re interested in beating your best time on each mission; but without any online leaderboards, if you don’t share your system with any friends or family, you’ve really got no one to impress but yourself.

Abyss is reminiscent of the sort of casual game you might find on an iPhone or Android device at the same price point. Simple, straightforward, and easy to pick up and play, it’s difficult to touch on the game’s high points without acknowledging its shortcomings. Despite its simple premise, the game does have a slight learning curve to it. It isn’t immediately obvious what you’re supposed to do upon starting a game, and though you’ll obviously want to collect Gaia Stones as you come across them, trying to pass through the exit (which appears as a floating yellow orb) without collecting them all will result in the mission ending in failure, after which you’ll need start again from the beginning. Unlike similar mobile titles, Abyss doesn’t boast a whole lot of depth once you beat it. There isn’t a lot of replayability, and as far as I can tell, there are no plans to add more missions through downloadable content. However, given the game’s lack of depth, it’s doubtful more missions would expand on the game’s value much. That being said, it’s a fairly enjoyable game with decent graphics, simple-yet-elegant background music, and a decent deal at $1.99.

Abyss is by no means a bad game; in fact, for a studio as small as EnjoyUp Games, it’s a solid effort. That being said, it’s no Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja. It doesn’t seem EnjoyUp Games was trying to be the next big thing in mobile games with Abyss, but that’s fine – as long as you don’t buy the game with the highest of expectations, Abyss will justify its $1.99 price tag and provide you with a decent amount of game for the 30 minutes to an hour it will last you.

Overall Score: 5.0 out of 10 = Reconsider an immediate purchase…