PN Review: Squid’s Odyssey (3DS eShop)
I was fortunate enough to review this game for the Wii U, and can happily report that this version is the better of the two.
For the uninitiated, Squid’s Odyssey was originally released for iOS in 2011, with other smart devices following in its path. The Wii U was the first console version and was released earlier this year. And now, as most good mobile games are wont to do, Squid’s Odyssey has made its way to the humble 3DS.
Touted as a tactical RPG game, the basic premise sees you lead a ragtag team of squids in their journey to free the underwater realm from the evil clutches of The Baron, who is maniacally spreading some sort of oily ooze across the ocean, turning everything it touches into mindless zombies to do his bidding. Bwahaha! Oops, I meant: poor sea critters!
Most of the time, you control four squids, with your turn passing from one to the next before the enemy can have a go, in true strategic style. The RPG elements come into play when you level up your characters between levels, and purchase new hats, that provide extra power (‘cos squids wear hats, of course).
Levels consist of an area and a set goal, such as finding the exit or defeating all enemies, before you can progress to the next level. Some areas are quite large and require some good navigation to find your way through. Other levels are shorter but have more interesting goals, like knocking all your pals off the back of a moving turtle, just to pass the time while racing to the next distress call.
Either way, it’s all in good fun, and that’s the main takeaway message of this review: this game is a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend your time.
Perhaps it’s due to the mobile nature of the game’s origins, but Squid’s Odyssey feels right at home on the 3DS. Even though the controls are virtually the same as the Wii U – you can use the stylus or the control pad to control squids – it just feels more responsive somehow. Now, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t frustrated at times by mysteriously falling off edges, despite clearly being on the right side of a crevice, but the experience wasn’t quite as harrowing as that experienced on the Wii U. Maybe I’d learned to be more precise with controlling my team of squids? Maybe the 3D visuals really did help? Either way, I was much more tempted with this version to replay a level and satisfy the requirements for a complete pass – that is, by getting through the level in the minimum number of turns, with all my squids unscathed, and collecting the hidden star.
The graphics are very nice, it must be said. The Wii U is obviously more powerful but the 3DS does a great job, and sliding the 3D up a notch or two makes a big difference. There are some superb 3D touches – like when a school of fish will swim between you and the playing area – that just pop out at you with enough subtlety to awe you without distracting or feeling gimmicky. The rest of the game is set in such a gloriously colorful undersea world that it really is a treat for your eyes, particularly on the 3DS XL.
The sound remains the same as the Wii U, which is a good thing. The cute and catchy tunes set the lighter mood, with the right amount of drama during the more serious scenes. But humor is where this game sits most proudly, and it is definitely a fun story, despite the angry sea critters covered in ooze. The squid banter has definitely grown on me.
I still think the levelling up system is unclear at first, since you take control of who and when to level up, but once you know what you’re doing it is rewarding to return to the base after each battle to strengthen your team. One thing I saw no value in was switching my team to use other unlockable team members. Although they look cute and have personality to spare, once I’d spent my precious pearls upgrading my characters, I really wasn’t overly interested in using a less powerful character that could really do the same thing, albeit they have a different name and color.
I would happily recommend this title as a cute little game with surprising depth that should keep you occupied for quite some time. There are many levels to work through, with plenty of reason to replay and complete everything properly. The story is innocent enough to be kid-friendly, yet should satisfy most adults too who are looking for something different in the tactical RPG genre. The added bonus (at least in Europe) is that downloading the 3DS version entitles you to download the Wii U version for free – a first for the Nintendo eShop – so if you’re going to take advantage of either one, go for the 3DS version first – the deal doesn’t work the other way around.
Overall, this is a great version of a fun game.