This title was reviewed on Nintendo Switch, but is also available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Blacksea Odyssey is a roguelike RPG developed by Team Blacksea Odyssey and published by Spiral Summit Games. In this RPG we take control of ‘the Old Man’ and go on a hunt for the great white. Will the adventure be a grand experience filled with turmoil? Or will it fall flat and be nothing but a backlog stuffer? Read on to find out!

Art style/sound

Blacksea Odyssey’s first major screen of information shows us the Old Man with two silhouettes of other characters that can be unlocked. So far the game looks fine with some very awesome pixel art of the characters… Then you select him and are directed to a bland solar system-esque map with a few dots signifying different bounties you can tackle. Okay? The game might be low budget and maybe this map isn’t an important screen.

Wrong.

Game screen of Blacksea Odyssey.
The distinct lack of any other colours make space seem bland.

You load up your first map and you’re met with your character on a very small boat in a black expanse. The HUD is slightly cluttered in my opinion and the environment is bland and uninteresting. Enemy designs aren’t anything to shake a stick at either. This is disappointing because we have plenty of other top-down roguelikes that have varied and interesting art styles like Enter the Gungeon, Binding of Isaac, and Neon Chrome. Also with how minimalistic the map is, it makes the environment a chore to navigate as you’re stuck using the minimap, but I’ll get to that later.

As for the music it’s pretty passable until you encounter a level’s boss. Then it has one of the best boss themes I’ve heard in recent times. Sadly the boss music is the only saving grace to the soundtrack in my opinion.

Gameplay

Oh boy the gameplay…

The game begins by teasing you with new characters and weapons to use against the space frogs/fish/whatevers and it legitimately got me excited. But upon getting into the game itself I was less than impressed. I was dropped in a black expanse of nothing. Now I get that a game called Blacksea Odyssey is going to be about a long journey through a sea of blackness, but you would think that there would be more to see. There are a few islands here and there that hold a few chests you need keys for. The only other things that I was able to find were enemies. Each enemy either tries to eat you or shoots something at you. However combat is so slow-paced you can easily kite enemies until they die.

Speaking of killing enemies, killing enemies takes too long. You deal damage very slowly and the enemies you fight at the start are capable of being very intense damage sponges. Now it’s obvious that because it’s a roguelike, the idea is to kill enemies and get power-ups and that is fine, but then we meet another issue with the game – there is no direction.

A giant creature with an eye in its mouth and sharp fangs trying to eat a space ship.
Sadly, I only ever encountered bosses getting bigger. Not better.

No direction? Wondering what I mean?

The game literally drops you into a map with little to no context of what you’re there for. Enemies will randomly spawn and despawn and there’s nothing to do but brute force your way to finding your target which you will probably find too early because it’s hard to tell if you’ve found everything you can find. Think about Enter the Gungeon for a second. In that game you have a map that shows you every room you’ve been in and every unopened doorway. You can tell when you’ve picked the floor clean and are ready to face the boss. Whereas here in Blacksea Odyssey you have to wing it and may not be ready as a result.

Final thoughts

While playing this game I could only think about how much I would rather be playing Enter the Gungeon. The combat was too slow and sluggish. When we are blessed with other titles that rely on fast paced adrenaline it’s hard to really invest in a game like this.

It’s sad that I couldn’t enjoy this game, because despite the mediocre quality I can see the effort the developers went to in order to make a game they felt would be fun to play. Honestly, given time and a lot more polish this game could be great. As it stands the only thing I can praise is the boss theme and I’m sorry for that. If you enjoy this game, I envy you because I would love to love it.

4

Pros

  • A great boss theme
  • Quick to pick-up and play
  • Couldn't find any glitches

Cons

  • Art style makes the game look bland
  • Gameplay is too slow and feels sluggish
  • A lack of direction makes progress feel random
  • A lack of reasons to find the game fun compared to others

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