|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sonic Powered||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Aksys Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 26, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Touch controls come into play primarily for menu navigation, special item usage, equipping gear, and divvying up experience. All of the action plays out on the top screen, and the touch screen serves as a handy, multipurpose map, and menu screen. Unfortunately, there's no way to pause the game, so all of these changes have to be made on the fly. Given the rest of the controls are handled with buttons, it's a little awkward to switch to the stylus just to use a potion or change you weapon.
At a quick glance, it's far too easy to mistake From the Abyss with gameplay from Children of Mana on the DS. The graphics are uncannily similar, right down to the weapon types available, the level design, and the combat style. The non-dungeon areas of the game are so minimal they're barely worth mentioning - they're a meager combination of text boxes, shop menus, and anime character stills. The situation is a little better on the audio front in terms of originality. The fantasy music is catchy at times, and it certainly bolsters the heroic vibe of the adventure. Also, each creature you encounter has their own unique sound they make when you're bashing their teeth in - it's a minor but appreciated touch.
A co-op multiplayer mode allows you to venture into danger with a buddy, but there's no option to play through the main campaign as a duo. Co-op play is basically limited to re-exploring areas of the abyss you've already completed on your own, which is disappointing. Sure, you can pick up some special items only available with this play mode - and a little extra experience grinding never hurts - but it's wasted potential.
Sad to say, From the Abyss is an extremely unremarkable game through-and-through. From the visual style and plot to the game mechanics, it's all been done before in some form or another. The good news in all of this is the game still offers a good time for fans of the genre. There's not a lot of thinking involved, but plenty of good old fantasy RPG pummeling is on tap.
CCC Staff Contributor