Space pirates have always been in our hearts and minds. We have the legendary Han Solo, that blue guy in Guardians of the Galaxy and everyone else when I’ve spent time playing Elite Dangerous. Pirates, whether they are in the sea or in deepest space have a romantic air about them, with their swashbuckling antics, treasure plundering and exploration of the unknown. In Blacksea Odyssey the romance of the old salty sea rogue is still very much alive, but this time round you are called a space huntsman instead of a pirate. But the real big question is will you be Captain Blackbeard or Captain Pugwash?
I can honestly say that throughout my many moons of gaming, I’ve never played a game like this.
Blacksea Odyssey is a violent top-down space based shoot-em up RPG. But are you sitting comfortably? Because the story goes something like this. Once a decade, the greatest space huntsmen in the universe get together to compete in a huge tournament called the Blacksea Odyssey. The hunters tear apart huge space creatures with their harpoons and spears, while collecting treasure and rewards. The ultimate goal though is to find, and defeat, the behemoth known as The Titan of the Stars.
When you first start the game, you are left to choose your weapon load-out and the hunter you’re going to play as. At first there aren’t many characters open for you to choose from and weapons will be limited, with more unlocked the more you play. You are then basically placed into a space/sea area, where your objective is to hunt down all the space/sea beasties. You float around – much like in the old classic Asteroid – and have a boost button to spin yourself across the map or out of upcoming danger.
When you find some creatures you can either lob a spear at them with the Right Trigger, or you can harpoon a part of the creature’s anatomy, like a fin or arm, and then pull back the harpoon, ripping the appendage off and doing some almighty damage. The second option is the most fun and satisfying to action, but I found it really difficult to master initially and attempting it is hugely frustrating. You see, the control scheme, for some reason, just doesn’t feel right. But the harpoon attack is Blacksea Odyssey’s USP – when it works, and you master the skill, it feels so good that you get to walk around like the hardest space hunter that’s ever set sail on solar waves.
Each world has a big boss to fight too, and they’re really tough to conquer, pitting you and your nerves of steel and some twin-stick genius skills, to complete it. That’s the basic premise of the game and after each bout of space hunting and harpooning you get to upgrade, gather new weapons and start on harder battlegrounds with trickier monsters.
I’ll be honest with you here though and say that I found Blacksea Odyssey really difficult – even on the lower levels – and the gameplay did start to grate on me after a while, probably because of how tricky it was for me to control. But when it all begins to click and you start to get your sea legs it can be a lot of fun. There is a lot to get involved in and the rogue twin stick shooters out there will love this game, no doubt delighting in getting high scores while clearing all the levels.
Story-wise and the tale isn’t epic in its scale, it’s basically a load of space hunters firing insults at each other at the beginning of each level. It doesn’t matter though because the story is in the gameplay – with the real enjoyment coming about by playing the levels and destroying the creatures.
It is with these colourful creatures and brilliantly designed monsters in which Blacksea Odyssey is at its best. The way these characters move and all their special attacks are superbly drawn with an art style that I love. The rest of the game looks okay too, and is bright and cheerful even in deepest space, but there is nothing else apart from the creatures that let it stand out from the crowd. In the sound department the game’s music is rousing, dramatic and really works within the gameplay. The effects are good with a mixture of trippy whale sounds and spaceship noises.
In conclusion and Blacksea Odyssey is a unique and unusual game – of a type that I’ve never played before. It’s like a mixture of Asteroid and Euro Fishing, with a dash of Monster Hunter sprinkled on top. I enjoyed my experience but I’m afraid I’m just not very good at it. You see, as much as I tried I just couldn’t get to grips with the controls or the difficulty level, but for others this will quite probably be a neat little title that will be a joy to master.
I would have liked to have seen the price drop just below the £10 mark, just in order to tempt in those gamers who want to take a punt, but if you fancy yourself as a space hunter, with a harpoon in one hand and the controls of a spaceship in another, then this is the game for you.