Abyss - a Windows Phone game that is one tough nut to crack
Game Troopers has a nice collection of games in the Windows Phone Store and Abyss may be the most challenging of the lot. You control a biomechanical robot across the ocean depths in search of a new energy source called "Gaia". You guide the Npe2no through dangerous caves, through deep ocean trenches and mysterious grottos.
The key to surviving this multi-level game is to avoid crashing into the ocean floor and cave walls while navigating around deadly traps, rifts and spikes. Controls are simple and the graphics, while on the dark side, looks good. Game play can drive you nuts and can be a bit on the frustrating side. Abyss is a Windows Phone game that requires patience, a soft touch and nerves of steel.
Available for low-memory Windows Phones, Abyss may be tough to master but it comes across as an entertaining option for your Windows Phone gaming library.
The main menu for Abyss deals up options to adjust the game's brightness, sound and music levels. You will also find options to access the game's achievements and leaderboards, follow the game over on Twitter and Facebook, share the game or any screenshots captured and play the game.
A quick note on the game's brightness levels. The setting for Abyss is the ocean floor, which isn't exactly well lit. You can brighten the screen a little, but it is still very dark. During game play, you will only see what the headlight on your robot can illuminate. There are a few glowing items that scatter the depths of the ocean that add a little light but not much. The mood of the game reminds me a lot of the Windows Phone game Lamp Head, with a lot of shadows and unknown twists, turns and dangers.
This darkness adds to the challenge of the game, as well as any frustration Abyss can generate.
As far as game play is concerned, Abyss is a level based game with twenty, progressively unlocked levels to tackle. Gaming controls are simple. Swiping (left or right) in the left portion of the gaming display will rotate the robot and change its direction of movement. Tapping the right will give the robot's propulsion system a little juice. Remember, you are underwater so a little drift is expected and the robot will not stop on a dime.
Abyss is an Xbox gaming title with twenty Xbox Live achievements to score. You also have bragging rights of sort through a screenshot capture feature. As you cross the finish line of every level or as you crash and burn at the bottom of the ocean, the game will snap a screenshot of your gaming skills (or lack of). You can then share the screen grab with friends. Unfortunately, most of my screen grabs are of Nep2no being impaled by an ocean spike.
You are afforded a few minor scrapes as you guide Nep2no through the ocean, but it won't take many to fail the mission. The game does lack a dedicated help section (which would be nice) but will remind you of the gaming control layout and touch on any new gaming feature as it is discovered.
There is little debate, Abyss is a hard game. While the game was not my cup of tea, that is not to say it is a terrible game. Even though I found Abyss more frustrating than entertaining, I can see the appeal the game does have for so many. Graphics are well drawn up, game play is brutally challenging and when you do have an ounce of success, there is a strange sense of accomplishment that is attached.
I did find I had more success playing Abyss in a dimly lit room. It helped brighten the dimly lit surroundings of the game and at least provide you with a little more warning that your robot is about to meet its fate. However, even if you could see everything bright as day, you have the controls to contend with. The controls are not complicated to learn but will require a soft touch to avoid piloting your robot into a wall filled with spikes.
I think the biggest downside to Abyss is that the game lacks a free trial version. The lack of a trial version will hurt any gaming title but more so one like Abyss that is so difficult. I would imagine a trial version wouldn't be difficult to offer. It would only take the first level to sell someone on the game or have them moving on to the next gaming option. Or better yet, offer it as a free game with ad-support and let gamers make the call if it is worth paying the three bucks to remove the ads. Whatever the means, there is no reason Abyss doesn't have a trial version.
All of which leads us to the question, "Is Abyss worth the price of admission?" That is a tough question to answer. If you have the patience or attraction to brutally challenging games, you will probably like Abyss. If you prefer a game that gives you more than a sliver of a chance at success, you might kick yourself for installing Abyss.
Abyss does pull down a 3.7 star rating in the Windows Phone Store and from a purely gaming sense that is about where the game should be. If you have taken a chance and picked up Abyss, let us know what you think of the game in the comments below.
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George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.