Odium to the Core is a mobile and Steam game ported to the Xbox One, developed and published by Dark-1. It’s a rhythm-based 2D side-scroller where you simply use one button to slowly raise your little ‘odium’ as it were, using this singular ability to balance yourself through obstacles and bosses, eventually reaching the core (the end of the level).
Let’s focus on what Odium to the Core on Xbox One does well: its bright colours and multi-layered backgrounds add to the world you’re exploring and provide some substance to the universe you’re engaged in. The enemy types are slightly varied, and again, add to the flavour of the game.
The gameplay is responsive in what it does, though I expect it to be considering you play through the entire game with just the one button, using it to raise your ‘Odium’ ever-so-slightly so that you can navigate through 16 levels. This will see you dodging new obstacles and enemy variants, learning how to overcome unique challenges through a rinse and repeat gameplay loop… which doesn’t just stem on the borderline of being frustrating, it just is frustrating.
I don’t mind learning enemy types and their aggressive behaviour, memorising obstacles and the ways to venture through them, but not being able to pass through one obstacle challenge because you didn’t get through the smallest of small gaps pixel-perfect after an hour of trying is infuriating.
I’m not looking for a deeply challenging experience in a 2D rhythm platformer, at least not to the degree found in Odium to the Core. Especially since there is no guiding objective nor story element to be found throughout this 3-4 hour game.
Having no context behind what you’re doing in a video game within the current gaming climate will only go down well if the gameplay is extremely profound. But Odium to the Core’s isn’t. It feels unfair, ridiculously hard in places, and just boring to play because of its simplicity.
Sporadic and poorly pixelated cinematics only identify upcoming bosses – of which again I have no idea what they are or why they are an enemy, except that they attempt to stop you from reaching the core at the end of every level.
It’s not just about reaching the end though and the orbs you have to collect alongside the beats of the songs do help to provide a more engaging experience, and for players like me who are finding frustrations they stand as a good guide to ride your odium along a path.
Furthermore, the secrets found in each level will motivate completionists as collecting all the orbs in a level and finding all the secrets will unlock different skins for your odium. However, I don’t see that reward worth the challenge it proposes, considering you might tear all the hairs out of your head before you unlock all of the skins available, all of which only differ from one another to a fairly small degree.
There is an endless mode included and this does seem impressive in terms of its variety – unless the level just repeats after a certain point in time. What I do know is that I haven’t found Odium to the Core on Xbox One to be a particularly enjoyable experience despite average/good factors and components being included within this game. Instead I found a difficult and unfair experience topped off with boring gameplay and music which became repetitive on the third level.
Actually, I would recommend a different variety of music, dialling down the difficulty slightly or allowing players who get stuck able to bypass the bits they’re struggling on with more ease. Introducing different gameplay aspects to spice up the gameplay, may also be a good call.
The achievements included are designed well enough that they will encourage the player to explore and achieve most aspects of this game, and would be very complimentary, encouraging the player to play/complete all of the experience provided. That’s if you enjoy the frustrations.
Odium to the Core is good at what it does, but what it doesn’t, it is not. The gameplay may be responsive but it is extremely irritating in an attempt to lure you through that ‘one-more-time’ mentality, except most of the time when you die it feels unfair and unjustified. The rhythm-based aspect funks things up, but as for the game as a whole, there isn’t much to be found here except a 2D side-scroller with no story, unfair gameplay challenges, and a repetitive drum and bass soundtrack which doesn’t stand out in the slightest.