Abyss Attack Review

Gaming

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Abyss Attack
Developer: Deep Byte Studios
Publisher: Chillingo
Platforms: iPhone (reviewed), iPad
Release Date: August 8, 2013
Price: $0.99 – Available Here

Overview
Games in the “Shoot ’em up” category have, unfortunately become rarer in recent years. The days of quarter munchers like 1942 and Raiden are long past, so when a shoot ’em up makes a debut, it’s worth checking out. How does Abyss Attack hold up? Is it a treasure to be raised from the deep or should it be buried at sea? Let’s find out.

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Gameplay
The gameplay for Abyss Attack is pretty straightforward. While most arcade-style shoot ’em ups give you direction pads, a shoot button, and a bomb button (or maybe more), Abyss Attack keeps it very simple.

You’ll use tilt controls or your finger on the touch screen to maneuver your ship. You just move it in the direction you want to go, and it’ll get you there. It’s very intuitive, but occasionally misses the mark as it seems that some finer maneuvering is lost with this approach. Using your finger can also become frustrating as it obscures your view of the game.

The fire button you were used to for so long? Kiss that goodbye. Abyss Attack made the right choice and just had you firing all the time. Given that most folks could have wedged a paperclip or penny on the fire button for their own games growing up, this seems like the appropriate decision to make. Given the cramped screen space of a mobile device, it’s nice to avoid a button you would only hold down all the time anyway.

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While Abyss Attack is a solid shooter for the most part, it has several issues that detract from the overall experience. As already mentioned, there are hazards to using the touch controls as you sometimes lose some fine maneuverability. In a genre where some of the games become known as “bullet hell shooters” due to the high density of enemy projectiles on screen, that’s a huge deal. Abyss Attack doesn’t overload you on enemy projectiles like many of its cousins, but the controls are an issue nonetheless.

Occasional screen chugging can be an absolute nightmare with a shoot ’em up. Abyss Attack has times when everything works with no hitches. At other points, the framerate feels like it’s crawling, and that can cause serious damage to your run.

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The most egregious offender related to design problems, though, is the continual insistence to bore microtransactions into the skull of every consumer it can get its hands on. Abyss Attack will use every single chance it can get to remind you that you can spend real money in-game. No, thank you, I don’t want to buy more crystals.

You died on your run? That will cost you 300 crystals. If you’re having a great run, that doesn’t seem too unfair. The real problem is that it will bring you back with ONE HEART (of which you start with three). Get hit again? That’ll cost you 900 crystals. “Oh, don’t have that much? You can buy more now!” It could be somewhat more excusable if it the game didn’t already cost $0.99, that could be somewhat excusable as “freemium.” This just feels like a money grab.

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Visuals & Audio
Abyss Attack looks great. Monster designs are unique and colorful. They feel natural and dangerous, and they stand out well in contrast to the deep, dark sea around them. Boss monsters are also big, colorful, and fun to look at. The added ship designs you can unlock add a little bit of variety to the game as well.

The soundtrack is pretty chill but it feels right at home in the setting of the game. Sound effects are right on, too. Squishes from organic life as they’re hit by bullets, the crunch of your ship as you take a hit – it all evokes the setting and action quite nicely.

Overall
Overall, Abyss Attack is a solid shoot ’em up. The graphics and sound are both well designed and fun. The decision to keep you shooting constantly is a great choice, too. Unfortunately, occasional control hiccups, screen chugging, and an egregious freemium push on top of charging to buy the game really dampen what could have been an otherwise fantastic experience.

6-5-capsules-out-of-10

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

Christian, gamer, software developer, crossfitter, jogger, and dog lover

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