SQUIDS ODYSSEY 3DS Review
Squids was first released for mobile devices in 2011, followed by the sequel Squids Wild West in 2012. Now developer The Game Bakers and Nintendo have released both episodes in Squids Odyssey for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. We got a chance to play the game on the 3DS earlier this week and were taken with surprise. Just by looking at it, one would immediately think this is just another game for the kiddies. No one would blame you, you do play as anthropomorphic squids after all. But once you place your thumbs on the controls you’ll soon realize the deep strategic gameplay with a high learning curve, as well as an interesting story a player of any age can enjoy.
First and foremost, Squids Odyssey is an RPG with a tactical element that resembles billiards and Angry Birds. You’re given a team of four squids, each with varying classes and abilities to balance out combat. These classes include the Shooter, the Scout, the Trooper, and the Healer. The shooter can fire pearls at a faraway enemy, the Scout can double move, the Trooper has a stomp attack that can push enemies away from you, and the Healer can restore some of another squid’s hit points by colliding with it. You can customize your team however you want. Depending on what sort of player you are, you can have more heavies on your team for maximum annihilation, you can equip more shooters and hang back, more scouts to play the field, or you can have one of each. You do you.
There are numerous stories and missions to play, but only one is unlocked at the start. Completing each level and their respective missions unlocks a new chapter in the story and a ton more missions for you to play. How you complete each stage gives you bonus pearls, which are used as currency in the game. Gameplay itself features a turn-based combat system. Your team of four must battle their way through the map by finding an exit, defeating all the enemies, or by surviving a certain number of rounds. The squids are given a certain amount of energy (this varies from squid to squid) to move around. Depending on how much you have affects how far you go or how hard you hit. Once that energy is expended it’s on to whoever’s next in the lineup.
In addition to choosing who you want on your team, there are a number of items you can use customize each squid as well as make them stronger. You can also spend pearls to level them up. In other words, all the leveling is up to you; it doesn’t happen automatically. This requires some thought into what characters you want to make better because after the first few levels, the game gets punching you in the gut. Some say the level of difficulty doesn’t get to a frustrating level, but if you have a habit of falling or running into way more enemies than you would like to take on at once, then yes…you will get frustrated. But mostly with yourself for being so brash and/or cocky.
To move around, you pull on your squids’ tentacles and sling them in any direction you want them to go. This can be achieved either by using your touch screen or with the joystick. Here is where the strategy comes in. There are plenty of hazards around the map (i.e. drop offs, spiky sea urchins, bombs, etc). You can just as easily fall off the map if you’re not careful with your aim or how hard you hit an enemy. Placement of certain squids on the map is also important, especially if there are enemy strikers on the board that can kill you in two moves. Other than falling a lot, this is the most unforgiving feature in a number of fights we found ourselves stumbling into. Pro Mode, a level of difficulty that unlocks after finishing the game for the first time, is just brutal.
Story wise, the narrative was not what we were expecting. And that’s a good thing. Remember what we said about this potentially being just another throw-away game for kiddies? It’s not. Without giving anything away, your team is out to find and defeat the cause of the black ooze that’s infecting the animals of the sea and attacking the squid kingdoms. There’s comedy, intrigue, betrayal, and even death. It’s an all-around engaging story you’ll want to follow to the end. The end, however, is very open-ended, leading us to believe that this is not the last we’ll be seeing these little guys. That’s fine, we just wish there could have been more of a resolution.
Squids Odyssey is certainly something you should check out for your Wii U and 3DS. It’s charming yet difficult, and provides hours upon hours of challenging gameplay you won’t mind wracking your brain over. As a side note, we found a Skyrim helmet for the Trooper squids to wear. Now we’re starting to wonder if there are any more random easter eggs in this game.