Odallus : The Dark Call
Developed By : JoyMasher
Published By : Digerati
Category : Metroidvania, Puzzle, Platformer, Action
Release Date : Feb 08, 2019
Odallus : The Dark Call on the Nintendo Switch hit the eShop at the same time as JoyMasher’s other 8-bit title, Oniken. While that one set it’s sights on capturing the essence of Ninja Gaiden, this title aims at a couple of other big NES games, Metroid and Castlevania.
You step into the role of Haggis, as the village around him is set on fire by an army of demons. The Gods have forsaken the island, and Haggis’s son is taken by a dark cult who seeks to use him in some ritual. A former soldier, Haggis has nothing left to do but don his sword once again and set out to protect and save his loved ones.
For the most part, Odallus draws heavily on it’s Metroidvania influences both visually and mechanically. There’s also a spattering of RPG elements that come into play for Haggis’s gear. However these elements are merely sprinkled on top of the main Metroidvania essence, since it’s mostly about finding higher level items scattered across the map instead of grinding to level.
Haggis moves and controls much like his early-NES predecessors, feeling very stiff and sluggish at times. He starts his adventure off with a sword (using the term sword very loosely as it seems to be equally as effective as a sharpened stick), and can pick up upgrades for it, as well as a number of throwable items like axes and the like.
Enemies in Odallus will start off feeling overpowered and tough, but this is really due to Haggis toting around a sub-par sword more than anything else. As you find more powerful weapons, and even the throwables, you’ll begin to feel a lot more in control of your adventure. Speaking of enemies, the ones of most noteworthy stature are the bosses which can be just as tough as they are fun once you learn their patterns.
Overall I really enjoyed playing this game, which is definitely saying because typically I’m not really a fan of the Metroidvania genre. However, this one managed to pull me in, although it was a drag at first with the weak sword and feeling so underpowered and useless. Without spoiling I will say that throwables and item usage are very key in the earlier stages.
One thing that I believe helped for me personally is the fact that Odallus manages to do away with a lot of the typical features in a game of this genre. For one, when I think back to the older games like this, I remember a lot of pointless back tracking through areas over and over, just for the sake of finding more things. Or pushing through an area in one direction, just to reach a dead end boss fight and be forced to back track.
In lieu of these mechanics, this game actually tends to help you out. For starters, the games map can act as a bit of a fast travel system once you unlock certain locales, and this same map feeds you all the information you’ll need on how many secrets are still undiscovered and if the local boss has been slain or not. Also, the levels themselves generally end up playing out as big loops, so if you start at point A you’ll typically find your way back there naturally after completing whatever it was that was needed.
Another feature that felt different than your classic Metroidvania game was the inclusion of some mechanics and level-styles that weren’t always present on the NES. For one, there’s a mine-cart level that will tap into your Donkey Kong Country memories. Also, Haggis can perform ledge grabs which, again keeping myself from spoiling anything, prove to be quite useful in many puzzle-esque platforming sections.
I can honestly say that I was presently surprised by this game. Again, it’s a genre that I rarely find myself in, and rarely find myself enjoying on top of that. Odallus is most definitely the diamond in the rough for me. Not only is this game an excellent throwback to old-school NES days, but its just a downright amazing game. I feel honored to have gotten to play both titles from this dev team (they also made my previous review game, Oniken) and I am absolutely waiting for their next title Blazing Chrome. Find your way over to the eShop and get this title as soon as possible.