In this installment of XBL Indieverse Reviews I'll be focusing on one of my favorite XBLIG RPG's "The Endless Abyss". This game was also made by Rickettz Studios, the development team behind another awesome Xbox Indie RPG called Star Cross.
The Endless Abyss 80 MSP
- XBLIV Rating - GOLD
- Developer - Rickettz Studios (Angel of Osmond)
- Release Date - 8/26/2010
- Price - 80 MSP
- Genre - RPG
- Value - High
- Est. Completion Time - 5 Hours
- XBL Marketplace URL - The Endless Abyss
- Developer Site - Rickettz Studios Webpage
--Xbox Live Indie Games Marketplace Description
Highly Recommended for all fans of the classic Zelda series!
The Endless Abyss is one of the personally highest recommended Xbox Live Indie Games on the market, especially for RPG-lovers and those that enjoy low-res adventure gaming. This game is also an XBLIG's SELECT choice because of it's highly entertaining gameplay and its impressive game mechanics as well as many other features.
Games with the official "XBL Indieverse SELECT" seal are selections made by me, tailored to gamers with similar tastes in gaming. This game is truly an underrated gem in the sparse RPG marketplace. All games with the official seal are rated 5-Stars and are the quality games that are worth playing and buying--keep in mind that these are personal reviews and opinions, and if you don't share the same tastes you'll want to Try Before You Buy.
What makes this game an instant classic is how it's set up--the overall game mechanics, such as fighting, are different from the traditional turn-based combat we've come to expect from RPG's: instead this game utilizes an active fighting system that allows players to strategically fight monsters from afar or move in close for the killing blow.
II. Game Mechanics
Players will enjoy both the Magick and the Melee fighting, along with the smattering of weapons and items that are awaiting to be found in the expansive continent. Magick, even at low levels, is incredibly useful, and both Health and Soul (which is basically like MP) rely on respective "leafs" that have three grades of quality--Leaf, Root, and Extract. There are destructive Magick spells and healing spells as well, and the spells are your basic elemental spells--there are four different grades of Magick that unlock after certain levels, and mostly these spells are unique in their ability.
Another very unique element of this game is the Stamina bar, which is affected by every single swing of the sword/pull of the bow. There is no way to run in this game--be assured, if there were, that your Stamina would drain way too fast and it'd leave you defenseless during battle. When your Stamina is fully drained, you cannot strike--but you can still move to run around.
This game reflects Angel of Osmond's original flair for gaming in many aspects, especially in the story-line and overall game system. If you've played his previous RPG Star Cross, then this game will seem quite faimiliar to you even though SC was a turn-based futuristic RPG and TEA is a medieval hero's journey.
III. Weapons / Items
The weapons of TEA are focused on Bows, Swords, and Tomes--tomes being quite useful for Mage characters. A character can hold two weapons at one time, in any combination. Later on, when you start to earn middle to top tier weapons, these combinations can be incredibly strategic.
Bows at first only stun enemies and creatures with every five shots and don't actually do damage, but in the middle of the game you can earn the Raven Bow, which does an amazing 2 damage plus stun attacks.
The Swords in TEA are the most powerful melee weapons, and the top-tier sword, the Onyx Blade, does an incredible 3 dmg per swing. Swords are balanced in that the higher the damage is the more Stamina that is used per strike.
Tomes add Soul points to a character, and equipping two of these adds a considerable amount of Soul points. There are about four or five weapons of each type in the game.
If a player is faced with a boss that is too powerful, hit (X) to activate your "Power Bar" (located on the bottom right-hand side of the screen), which functions in a very unique way:
"The power button only makes your next physical attack more powerful. While in power mode, you also take half damage from all attacks. In the case of 1 damage, you take 0. As well, the power mode ends when either you make a physical attack or the gauge runs out. These two traits (powerful attack and damage reduction) make it useful for either a mage or warrior."
--Explained by the Developer, Angel of Osmond
Correctly using your power meter can mean the difference between life and death in some boss battles as well as areas that overwhelm the player with monsters. The game has fair progression so you won't have to necessarily grind XP for hours to attain the strength needed to get past the bosses, however you'll still want to level up in a consistent manner as you gain more Magick spells with higher levels.
IV. Story Line (Synopsis--Spoiler Free!)
TEA has an incredible story line. At first we know next to nothing about anything--the world around us, our character, etc. As we progress we learn that our King, Osmond, has ordered our hero to find three relics that are needed to "help keep peace throughout the kingdom". Our hero crosses mountains, forests and deserts in search of these ancient relics, and once they are found we learn that things are not what they seem.
These supposed poweful artifacts have caused nothing but turmoil and suffering for those that have held them. Some even say that they are cursed. Our hero must fight evil beyond the simple creatures and bandits that roam the continent--he must face the evil witch-sorceress and prevent King Osmond from inadverdantly opening a gateway to The Endless Abyss.
There are many boss battles in this game, especially at the end where the epic struggle between good and evil is concluded.
Will the dark lord Isaac walk the mortal realm again, or will you keep him imprisoned in the void?
V. Unique Features
TEA has a slew of unique features from the interesting story dynamics to the expansive combat system and magick structure. Quests in TEA are the standard "King orders hero to this location, hero must find item, hero then returns item" formula, yet there are other side-quests to fulfill as well.
One main side-quest is the Adventurer's Guild, and it is only through this Guild that you can earn the most powerful top-tier weapons. The questing is well worth the meticulous collecting of items--that's right, every "quest" in the Adventurer's Guild is a simple "collect this item" task. Sometimes you'll have to spend quite a bit finding certain items, however the drops are plausible--you won't have a Spider drop a Claw, since spiders don't have claws--Foxes drop claws, etc.
Items can be found in chests, from monster drops, or bought in general stores--all item drops, including chests, are random. You can save at any time in this game, but fast-travel is not an option--you must find the Globe that brings you to the Global Map. There is no mini-map, yet the Global Map is sufficient to show the various villages and kingdoms throughout the land.
Overall, TEA is an excellent addition to your RPG Indie Game collection. The only bad thing about the game itself is that it has no re-play value--there is no New Game+ feature, so once you beat it you're pretty much done with it (unless you're me and want to see how high the level cap goes XD).
However that's not to say that the experience up until that point won't be filled with entertaining battles and interesting story line lore. TEA is an awesome homage to all the old classic RPG's that we've played in our youth, and I'm proud to rate it 5 Stars.
VII. Developer Information
Rickettz Studios was founded in 2008 and is solo-operated by Angel of Osmond, the developer responsible for a few awesome XBL Indie Titles such as The Endless Abyss, Star Cross, Nova Lancer and the not-yet-released games Arc Lancer and Sol Intelligence. For more information on these and upcoming titles from Rickettz Studios, and about the studio itself, visit these links:
Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@Mr_Deeke) for updates on news, trailers, and reviews for upcoming Rickettz Studios titles!
That's it for now! Happy gaming and I hope all of you enjoy TEA as much as I did--at 80 MSP it's hardly something you could regret. Below is a link to the Free Trial for TEA.