Available on Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, reviewed on Nintendo Switch
What is it?
Squids Odyssey, developed by The Game Bakers, follows a team of underwater adventurers as they pull together an army to fight against ooze corrupted crustaceans. The gameplay in Squids Odyssey is turn based, with a dash of RPG and flinging mechanics – the latter can be a bit lost if you are playing on the TV with your Switch docked, but not enough that it is detrimental to the game overall. As your team fights back against the infected enemies (which are a very clear allegory for ocean pollution) and you progress through the game, you are able to develop your team and add new characters to your line up. Your squids fall into four character classes; shooters, scouts, troopers, and healers – they are able to be strengthened with found items and a levelling system based on the collection of pearls.
The level design in Squids Odyssey is clever and beautiful – space is utilised in a way that encourages the player to take advantage of the environment while battling enemies; whether that is slamming into an ooze covered crab to push them off the side to their doom, or using a bubble stream to move your team quickly to the most tactical place for them to make their stand. At the end of every level is a summary of how you managed; whether any of your own characters died, if you found the star treasure, and how many moves it took you to complete the level.
The levels themselves are vibrant and look absolutely brilliant, with a variety of settings and different aspects to each level – obstacles, anchor points and ways to manoeuvre your characters – that keep things interesting. The character design is also extremely well done, and each character’s personality matches their design in a way that genuinely makes them more interesting – these characters aren’t just empty placeholders to enable gameplay; they have their own quirks and stories to tell within the game, and the design of the squids helps to visually tell the player about these aspects of their team members. This insightful character design adds more depth and helps to make Squids Odyssey a game worth playing.
Something that I loved in this game was the depiction of pollution as the enemy, as something that needs to be actively fought against, rather than something inevitable and undefeatable that we let happen as we sit idly by. I think that, as the target demographic for Squids Odyssey is likely quite young, this is a particularly important message – and even better, it’s one that is imparted in a fun, family friendly medium that remains light and enjoyable despite the frankly depressing underlying message regarding the pollution of the world’s oceans.