An Underwhelming Adventure
Generic is among the first words that come to mind when describing Epic Odyssey. In fact, Hiker Games’ tactical RPG is almost impressively generic. Hometowns under attack? We got em’. Demon invasion? You bet! Scottish dwarves? Is there any other kind? But is the game good? That’s a bit harder to answer.
The campaign begins with our main character, an elven archer named Renna, returning home to find her village under attack. Well, “character” might be a strong word. You know how in something like Overwatch, each of the heroes has a unique and easy to identify personality? Hiker Games seem only to have gotten half that memo. The recruitable heroes all have unique designs, many of which are highly creative. For example, the Dryad is a graceful forest spirit that beats people with a pair of giant floating tree arms. All that visual personality feels wasted on what are otherwise a succession of blank slates. Renna’s mother dies in the first few minutes of the game, and I cannot remember if they ever brought her up again.
Renna’s party is soon recruited to help defeat the Evil Gods that have just escaped from their magical prison. Apart from a few minor wrinkles, that’s pretty much it as far as a plot. The only interesting question is how exactly the Evil Gods escaped. It seems a little too convenient that a meteor just happens to knock their prison out of the sky.
Unfortunately, that mystery takes a long time to solve. To explain why we first need to talk about gameplay. Each battle pits five of the player’s heroes against five controlled by the AI. All combat is AI vs. AI. The player chooses which heroes to deploy and in which formation. The AI handles the rest. Every battle, whether from the campaign, the challenge modes or even the multiplayer, resolves this way.
That’s not to say the player has no impact. Formations are hugely important when it comes to deciding the outcome of battles. Heroes are stronger when fighting alongside others of the same race or class. Their stats and abilities are also nicely varied. I found that I was able to defeat parties fifteen to twenty levels higher than mine with the right formation.
Still, I’d like to have some ability to direct my team after the action starts. Heroes will always attack the closest target and use their abilities seemingly at random. There is no way to adjust your strategy if something goes wrong. Even worse is that some enemies can teleport behind the player’s front line. You can do the same to them, but that doesn’t make it any less irritating.
The much bigger problem is how Epic Odyssey handles leveling. Improving a character’s stats cost gold and spirits, the game’s substitute for experience points. The former is relatively common, but spirits are hard to come by. Story missions and side quests don’t give nearly enough to keep pace with the enemy.
As I hinted at earlier, there are multiple side activities the player can perform. All of them offer slight variations on the same combat. Of them, only the Worlds Portal produces the resources needed to level up. This mode consists of a short dungeon crawl where, unlike in the campaign, characters’ health carries over from each encounter. It might not sound like much, but the extra layer of resource management did a lot to reignite my engagement.
So, problem solved, right? Well, no, because only one dungeon is open at a time, and they only reset every 24 hours. This means the fastest way to level up is to stop playing and wait for the AFK rewards. That’s the only way to stay ahead of the curve without spending real money. It isn’t a big deal if you only intend to play a chapter or two a day. But that’s only about fifteen to twenty minutes of gameplay.
Epic Odyssey has its merits. It’s got some style and even a little bit of mechanical depth. On the other hand, it turns every battle into a cutscene and rewards you for waiting instead of playing. In fairness to Hiker Games, they are still in the process of rolling out new features. This review might end up dated in a few months. Still, I’m not sure I can recommend a game that punishes gamers for actually playing it.
Is it Hardcore
Colorful and stylish, Epic Odyssey is a game that really makes you want to like it. Unfortunately, its glacial progression destroys the pacing and quickly eats away at any goodwill.