A Scary Fun ARPG
In May 2023, Titan Entertainment released the action RPG Abyss: Roguelike (AbyssRL). The trailer is whimsically enticing, but unlike similar games the story pretty much ends there. With such a unique style, the absence of a story feels criminal, or at the very least, a missed opportunity. In a similar vein, guild functionality, community interaction and character customization are limited despite the flashy UI. The primary monetization focuses on customization and the ridiculous costumes are tempting. Removing ads with an inexpensive subscription is bypasses them all including those for revival. The gameplay itself is more “roguelite” and features unique monsters and creepy crawlies. Each chapter contains a new fantastical environment with their own set of monsters, challenges and alluring art. However, approach with caution.
AbyssRL is not a horror game per se, but players with arachnophobia or any strong distaste for insect-like creatures should probably steer clear. Each monster has its own Frankenstein-esque design that combines the unsettling features of different creepy creatures. The Monster Codex allows players to track and compare the monsters they have encountered. There is even a feature where some of these strange beings can be made into pets that fight alongside them. There is a stark contrast between the player’s Chibi-like build and the monster’s disturbing appearance until players can gear up. For example, one notable design is clearly inspired by the real-life horror known as the lamprey. Game strategy lies in magic enhancements and the player’s equipment choices. They can choose from a hammer, great sword, lance, one-handed sword, cannon, or pistols that all feature brilliant high-res class-specific attack effects.
More Like Roguelite
What classifies a game as roguelike is a longstanding debate, but there are a few components, like permadeath and procedurally generated (procgen) maps, that are widely accepted. Permadeath is self-explanatory and less common today. Procgen loot systems however are standard in RPG and FPS games where drops are randomized relative to the player’s stats. Permadeath is present within chapters where 10 – 20 intense and progressive rounds that must be completed in one run to proceed. Procgen does not apply to levels or maps as there are no maps but is utilized in between rounds. Abyss: Roguelike incorporates loose adaptations of roguelike concepts and is better described as a “roguelite” game.
Is It Hardcore?”
If we drop the semantics, AbyssRL is a unique experience that is ideal for those with an affinity to creepier designs and spectacular visuals rather than those interested in character customization or narrative.