Outcast Odyssey from Bandai Namco is one of the most awaited games released this past week, so it got plenty of exposure ahead of its release. But does the actual game stand up to the promise we heard from the developer? Let us see.
I am not sure what I am doing in the game. I mean, dungeon crawling and map exploring is pretty clear and transparent. You have a map that is grid-like and you need to tap on highlighted cells to advance, unraveling the map further. You will occasionally unlock a chest of loot, a handful of coins or magic energy, but in most cases you will unlock a piece of map, and a monster to battle.
Then, if you wish you can battle the monster by tapping on it. Since it’s a card battler, you battle with your cards while the monster does not have cards. Instead, the monster is covered by something that looks like bubbles with numbers on them. These bubbles are of different colors, and so are your cards. I can only guess that it probably makes sense to hit purple bubbles with purple cards, but I’ve tried different tactics and they all seem to have the same effect. The monster has a life bar and it diminishes as you tap the bubbles and your cards attack them.
Depending on the monster, it can attack you in return. For example, there is this disgusting huge toad that sends plague on you and your screen flashes with neon green spit – charming. Overall, I still don’t understand how the battle system works except for the obvious parts – tap on the enemy bubbles, see the enemy energy decrease, tap more. Sometimes, a power-up that looks like a golden comma is activated and the next time you tap the bubble with the golden comma, it hits a couple of other bubbles and produces a greater effect than your actual attack.
I’ve tried hitting the same bubble every time, as well as hitting several of them, and I can’t tell if there is a difference in how fast I manage to beat the beasts.
When I said I don’t know what I’m doing in the game I meant I don’t see a story to it, but for collecting beautiful cards, battling monsters and leveling up the cards, or playing versus other players, or building guilds and battling guilds.
Everything about Outcast Odyssey is glossy and chic, and I get easily hooked on good looks – something that my girlfriend says is superficial, but even she admits not all is lost for me when I start digging. So, when I look at Outcast Odyssey, I see the beauty, and a smooth, hassle-free gameplay, but I don’t know what I’m digging. Who’s the ugly guy that was my first and main card? Who’s the huntress, or the dog? If it’s a mythical creature, what is its purpose and meaning? In other words, I am missing a feeling of adventure, which only comes from a good story, and when I look at the map I see floating islands full of monsters and dungeons, and I wonder what is going on there – who are the bad guys, and who are the good ones? Even that is not evident because my first character looked like Gargamel from the Smurfs.
Outcast Odyssey is beautiful in every aspect, every transition, every effect. Parallax paired with vibrant colors and beautiful, if not ugly at times, creatures make for the greatest value of the game – collecting decks of cards. You can collect up to five decks for offense, and five for defense. Also, you can evolve and enhance cards, mixing them, so there are plenty of scenes where the game’s visual supremacy truly shines.
There is not much to say about controls since you just tap on interactive buttons, so there are no swipes and gesture combinations to learn. The user interface is not cluttered and the plenty of content is very well organized. The only time I stumbled was during a card enhancement. It is not immediately clear which cards you can use to enhance the card in selection – they are all in the row, so you tap on each card one by one and then you tap Enhance. If the card is in your deck, the system notifies you, and you can cancel the action. If not, the enhancement proceeds. So, when I was enhancing a secondary character in my deck, I accidentally tapped to enhance it with my primary character (the Gargamel guy), the enhancement proceeded, and now I no longer have the guy, who was upgraded to have shorter resurrection times.
As a result, instead of 1 m 20 s Gargamel guy, I have a not-so-pretty Huntress with more than 2 minutes resurrection time. I wish there was an undo button, and I wonder why my strongest card could be wasted like that.
Stamina, Waiting Times
Rejoice because there is no stamina. Instead, your deck features two bars – one red for energy, the other purple for magic power, or so it seems. So, the energy goes to exploring the map and fighting the monsters. Occasionally, you will find a few dozen energy points when exploring. Leveling up unlocks shorter resurrection times. Whenever you run out of energy, you lose, or die. Then, you see a countdown timer until you get resurrected with your energy at the level sufficient to keep exploring.
The good part is you can explore without fighting until your energy gets restored fully, and only then proceed with the battles. Another neat feature is the monster you’ve been fighting when you died, remains there for you to finish him, with his energy bar at the level it was when you died.
If you play wise and level up your cards, enhance them and evolve in timely fashion, you will find that the death-resurrection pauses can be quite short, and provided you can hang around in your deck building section while you wait, you won’t have time to get bored.
There is bounty to claim in exchange for bounty points, and this is the only section that threw a glitch or two on me, but it worked the third or fourth time I tried.
Then, there is PvP Arena, where you can challenge other players, and the system does not pair you – you need to choose the opponent on your own.
Next, there is guild building, if you have friends to invite, and if you use referral codes of other players, you will unlock rare cards.
As you unlock treasure chests, you will play mini-games designed to give you rare or regular cards to your deck. Of course, rare cards are rare in these games.
Almost forgot there is the Mastery system, and here you can evolve your resurrection time, guild and PvP power, but in my opinion, I’d rather have less depth leveling-up-wise, but more depth story-wise.
Whatever you want to buy, you will need gems, and these come in a variety of packs and bundles: Dragon’s Gem Stash $124.99, Mountains of Gems $64.99, Hills of Gems $24.99, Mound of Gems $12.99 and so on. You can buy potions, card decks and evolve your cards via in-app purchases, and again, I’d rather buy the game once and forget about the gems altogether. Free to play has its perks and flaws, but you can advance without paying.
- The gameplay is easy
- Gorgeous artwork
- Awesome parallax and particle effects
- Perfect for fans of card collecting genre with all the necessary pre-requisites collecting, enhancing, evolving and selling cards
- Plenty of levels in the campaign, more to do building guilds and in PvP Arena
- Fun exploration part
- No stamina
- Resurrection times are not burdensome
- You can play without buying, and on higher levels you will just grind for energy and powerful cards more than initially to beat the powerful bosses there
- Requires Internet connection to play
- No story behind the gameplay
- No Undo button for cases when you mess up the enhance process
- No explanation of how the battle system works
Outcast Odyssey offers a smooth, easy gameplay that mixes card collecting, card battling, and dungeon crawling. PvP Arena, Guild building and Guild battles add more content value to the Campaign levels. The cards are dazzling, and the UI is intuitive but for a few rough edges that could use some explanation. On top of that, the IAPs are not overly intrusive, and you can grind for success.
The only thing that I am missing here is a story that would get me involved, and probably addicted because card collecting alone doesn’t deliver the addiction factor. However, those who appreciate a gorgeously looking and easy to play CCG, will find Outcast Odyssey their next favorite game.