Older Than Old-Skool – Odallus: The Dark Call

You know it's NES-inspired because it as a minecart section.

What wonderful gems there are hidden in the bowels of the RPS hivemind/CMS. Just behind the mechanism that pumps melted down Generation One Transformers into Alec to keep him awake for the 763rd day in a row, nestled in a nook of the great million monitor machine from which Alice observes all of human civilisation with a slight, knowing smile I found the cassette tape containing a trailer for Odallus: The Dark Call. It’s grainy and battered but clearly shows a classically inspired platforming RPG filled with ghastly ghouls, terrible ghosts and big swords held by big men. It’s from JoyMasher, who you may remember from similarly retro but more robot-filled Oniken. I’ve been listening to that trailer music for a full 20 minutes. Odallus details below.

Hey, that release date is in the past! Yes, Odallus is available now if you’re already convinced, via Steam or the official site.

Even for someone who never experienced it ‘at the time’ there’s something about this hyper-retro art style that I love. Odallus also goes further than that, everything from the animations to the UI looks like I should be spending half an hour setting up a delicate series of switchboards and punchcards just to play the thing. Of course, that’s all for naught if it also plays like it was made in the late 80s, but reactions to both it and Oniken seem to be fairly positive across the board.

JoyMasher, hailing from Brazil, actually funded the game through IndieGoGo back in 2013 and were only a year out in their prediction for release. There’s a demo on that page that I’ve just had a shot of and was quite good, though I’ve no idea how current it is. It’s slightly awkward to control in that binary platforming way of old consoles, but the level was varied in enemy types and packed with secret routes. There’s a selection of special weapons picked up throughout which it took me a little while to realise were bound to holding up and pressing the attack key and picking out which to use and when seems to be vital. Death comes swiftly but there’s no insta-gibbing and it definitely always felt like my fault. Lovely sense of exploration too. Give it a try.

Any fans of either JoyMasher game out there? How do they compare to the well-worn classics?

 

12 Comments

Top comments

  1. Hakkesshu says:

    Yes, I've beaten it. It's a really neat game, though it is largely reliant on its style. I do appreciate a game that actually goes for it, though - not many games commit to the retro aesthetic as well as this game does, in pretty much every respect.

    It's most similar to games like Demon's Crest and the platformy bits of Actraiser with a strong Castlevania influence in terms of aesthetics. It's not quite a metroidvania, but it does have very large levels with tons of secrets and upgrades to find. Took me around 5 hours to 100% and it's very intuitive about its secrets, I didn't have to look anything up.

    Main flaws to point out is that it's very old school by design, so you won't find many surprises (WYSIWYG 100%), and the controls can feel quite stiff compared to other modern retro-inspired games like Shovel Knight. It's decently challenging, but never gets unmanageable, though some parts like the minecarts can get annoying.

    Overall worth playing simply because it nails the feel of that early 90s era (it kind of lands somewhere around Splatterhouse technology), it's actually refreshing to see a retro-inspired indie platformer that legit feels like a product of that time and not just a modern game with an 8-bit skin.
  1. SMGreer says:

    I’ve never heard of this thing at all but by god does that look fantastic. That colour! Lovely stuff.

    Will buy ASAP.

  2. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Man, that font takes me back to the good old days of the Sega Master System. I’m pretty sure Wonder Boy III used the exact same one.

  3. coppernaut says:

    Reminds me of Ninja Gaiden. Might have to get this.

  4. trn says:

    This looks fantastic. Thanks!

  5. Hakkesshu says:

    Yes, I’ve beaten it. It’s a really neat game, though it is largely reliant on its style. I do appreciate a game that actually goes for it, though – not many games commit to the retro aesthetic as well as this game does, in pretty much every respect.

    It’s most similar to games like Demon’s Crest and the platformy bits of Actraiser with a strong Castlevania influence in terms of aesthetics. It’s not quite a metroidvania, but it does have very large levels with tons of secrets and upgrades to find. Took me around 5 hours to 100% and it’s very intuitive about its secrets, I didn’t have to look anything up.

    Main flaws to point out is that it’s very old school by design, so you won’t find many surprises (WYSIWYG 100%), and the controls can feel quite stiff compared to other modern retro-inspired games like Shovel Knight. It’s decently challenging, but never gets unmanageable, though some parts like the minecarts can get annoying.

    Overall worth playing simply because it nails the feel of that early 90s era (it kind of lands somewhere around Splatterhouse technology), it’s actually refreshing to see a retro-inspired indie platformer that legit feels like a product of that time and not just a modern game with an 8-bit skin.

    • Scrofa says:

      Now this is exactly what I wanted to hear. I’ll probably wait for some kind a sale though. Can anyone compare difficulty level to Shovel Knight? I don’t like overly hardcore platformers (because I suck at them), and one of the reasons I loved Shovel Knight was its rather forgiving difficulty.

      • jarko says:

        How I feel it: harder than Shovel Knight, easier than Volgarr the Viking. A great game.

  6. Carra says:

    Seems similar to Volgarr… which I found way too hard. I’ll skipp this one :)

  7. iambecomex says:

    ‘Just behind the mechanism that pumps melted down Generation One Transformers into Alec to keep him awake for the 763rd day in a row, nestled in a nook of the great million monitor machine from which Alice observes all of human civilisation with a slight, knowing smile’

    So Alec is basically the Emperor from WH40K, Alice the priesthood watching over us? I could live with that, but what happens when the Transformers run out? Who is sacrificed to our Hivemind-God-Emperor then?

  8. Merlin the tuna says:

    The dev posted a nicely informative article on Gamasutra a while back that covers some of the visual and technical design considerations that went into making it look appropriately retro. It’s not quite as in-depth as Shovel Knight’s equivalent (nor is he as strong in his fetish for NES compatibility) but it’s a good read if you’re into the authenticity factor.

    link to gamasutra.com

  9. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    I’ll just throw an “ONIKEN” into this trough of new but stylistically old games.

  10. Saarlaender39 says:

    “Odallus is available now […], via Steam or the official site.”

    It’s also avaiable on GOG.com – just saying.