Switch version tested
Review code provided
Odallus: The Dark Call is the epitome of what being a kid in the early ’90s world of 8-bit Nintendo gaming was all about. It looks and feels like a Castlevania clone crossed with Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts but that’s not a bad thing. Mix into the equation all the best bits from the fantasy movies of the same era, you know the ones that you were just that little bit freaked out by for no reason (Labyrinth), and you have this quirky indie title.
The game was originally released back in 2015 on the Steam platform and is super cool, super stylised and super retro. It is clear to see that developer JoyMasher has drawn heavily from classic titles for this non-stop side-scrolling exploration adventure that is the perfect love letter to our childhood dreams. You play Haggis a strong, proud warrior that has sadly given up on the battle. He is forced to don his armour once again though for one last epic battle to rescue his son from evil. The Darkness, its a cold and empty place.
Graphically this game looks and feels at home on the Nintendo Switch, JoyMasher has excelled in re-creating that true old-school vibe. The presentation is neatly finished off with some fake CRT scan lines, for added authenticity, and it works. Playing the game was like jumping back in time but this was also part of the issue. Odallus felt, compared to other similar games currently available on the eShop, a tad too dated. There are some key game mechanics that the modern gamer is used to that aren’t available and although it shouldn’t be an issue we fear that it just won’t cut it anymore for the masses.
The game plays out over eight stages with a vast amount of enemy types that try to halt progression. Levels are designed to offer a certain amount of freedom giving the feel of exploration but really there’s only one end goal and that’s to defeat the end of stage boss in an intense and often frustrating face-off. The game is pretty hard, it made us wonder if the advances in gaming have actually softened us over the years. There are the usual items to collect along the journey so make sure that you power up if you want to beat the game. In doing this you will find that previously inaccessible areas are opened up and often include those hard to find collectables. Everything is stitched together by an overworld map to track progress but it also allows for minor character customisation, it’s at this point that the inspiration comes to the forefront when you equip a knights armour and jump akin to Arthur (of Ghouls n’ Ghosts). Odallus works well but it’s not without its share of issues. There are a few creative decisions and bugs in the game that tarnish the experience as a whole.
Odallus: The Dark Call gets a lot right, it takes you back to the golden era of 8bit gaming but falls short by today’s standards. It is clear that JoyMasher has put a lot of effort into the game and equally so have publisher Digerati in bringing it to the Switch. There are better titles available in gaming history, which goes without saying, but this is definitely worth a punt for fans of retro games.
Beard Score: 6.5/10
Nintendo Switch Essentials:
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 08/02/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Action, Platformer
Download link: eShop