Game – Squids Odyssey
Developer – The Game Bakers
Publisher – The Game Bakers
Platform – Wii U (MSRP $14.99)
Rating – E for Everyone
Obtained – Download Code courtesy of The Game Bakers
The turn-based strategy RPG genre has always been one of my favourites. From Fire Emblem to Advance Wars, I have always loved being able to experiment with different classes of characters, become attached to them through the story and ultimately pick my favourites to bring into battle and level up. Squids Odyssey does all of that, and adds in some interesting gameplay mechanics that simultaneously help and harm the overall experience.
Rather than choosing exactly where your character will move on a grid, players displace their characters by pulling back on their tentacles (or other posterior appendages) and letting go to fling them forwards. The stylus can be used for more accurate flinging, but some of the squids’ abilities can only be activated by pressing “A” while moving, so chances are you’ll spend the majority of your time playing with the slightly more imprecise analog stick. This makes the gameplay more involved than other turn-based RPGs and adds in a layer of skill that makes every victory feel rewarding.
The game builds on its flinging mechanic in some interesting ways. To get a bit of extra distance you can run into an allied squid to push them ahead or send an enemy flying back by smashing into them at high speeds. Foes can be defeated by hitting them to drain their health points or by launching them backwards into a pit. Even if your squids are very powerful, a weak enemy can take you out if you aren’t careful. Pits present one of the main issues with the game, as you may accidentally launch one your characters to their doom with a misdirected launch path or due to the game’s occasionally poor hit testing. Certain items will bring your characters back onto the playing field, but post-match bonuses are still lost if this happens.
There are four different classes of squids: Scouts, Healers, Shooters and Troopers. Scouts can gain extra bursts of speed if you press “A” while they are moving, making them the most useful characters for moving across the map quickly. Healers will restore health to their allies upon contact. Shooters can fire ranged attacks at enemies, and Troopers will pound the ground to send out a shock wave that damages enemies around them. The in-game shop offers stat-boosting helmets, new squids, items to aid you on the battlefield and the option to level up your squids in exchange for pearls. Squids Odyssey offers a decent level of customization that is by no means on the same level as, say, Fire Emblem: Awakening, but still manages to keep the gameplay from becoming too stale.
Between the game’s multiple chapters (including over 90 levels), unlockable squids and dozens of hats to find, there are easily over 15 hours of content to experience. The bright atmosphere, detailed maps, colourful characters and catchy music make the experience all the more enjoyable. The gameplay can be frustrating at times, especially when you accidentally launch a character into a pit halfway through a mission, but for the most part it is an enjoyable twist on the turn-based RPG genre that is well worth the price of entry.
Final Score: 8/10
+ Innovative gameplay
+ Colourful art style
+ Unique story and scenario
+ Bite-sized levels
+ Lots of content
- Accidentally falling into pits is frustrating
– Difficult to use the stylus control option due to the “A” button implementation