Odallus: The Dark Call is another crowdfunded indie project I’m gonna try to bring some attention to. At the very least I can explain why you should take the time to download the demo.
It seems like almost every indie game is trying to look 8-bit and bring things back to the way they used to be. Odallus — from three guys in Brazil calling themselves JoyMasher, actually walks the walk in all the best ways: spot-on visuals and dynamic gameplay that doesn’t hold your hand.
Upon booting up the demo I was greeted with a tiny screen displaying options and a button to start the game, all in extremely basic text that made it look like software from the 80’s. After expressing disappointment at how low-end the whole thing looked I realized that’s actually the launcher and immediately understood how far JoyMasher had gone with the whole 8-bit thing.
Little things like cut scenes with parallax scrolling, the standard 8-bit text font, item display, save data select screen, and even dialogue that tries to use as few words as possible, really completes the whole feel. I really like how the only confirm button in menus is the start button. That alone wouldn’t be enough for me to enjoy Odallus though.
Throughout most of the demo Odallus actually manages to capture the combat and level design of NES sidescrolling action games like Castlevania or Ninja Gaiden but without nearly as much frustration. You get no direction but the four-button control scheme is easy enough to figure out. Enemies fee; dangerous but you can pretty much figure each one out after one encounter. It’s honest, succinct game design.
The only part that got a bit frustrating was the first boss. Even then that boss got me into a kind of Mega Man mentality in that every time I died I kept coming back because I felt like I’d figured out its patterns. The continue system in Odallus is a bit forgiving though — even when you lose all lives you only lose your checkpoints, but keep any items you obtained.
The level design has me intrigued too. The first area feels like a bit of a mini Metroid kind of deal as you gather relics that let you breathe underwater or push large blocks, unlocking previously blocked paths. All I saw was the one area in the demo but it says “Dark Forest Area 1,” and a greyed-out selection in the options menu says “quit to world map.”
Maybe Odallus hasn’t gotten a huge amount of traction because it’s been on indiegogo and not Kickstarter (Kickstarter is North America-only after all). The game has already hit its goal but with only about a day left as of this writing is nowhere near its stretch goals (Mac, Linux, Wii U, Ouya, New Game+, etc.). Its Steam Greenlight campaign hasn’t done much better.
It’s pretty much the same story with JoyMasher’s previous game Oniken, which is already available for $5 on Humble Bundle and Desura but languishes on Greenlight.
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