Every once in a while a game drops on your lap that wants to be cuddled and loved, but lacks the quality for your affection. This is the scenario The Abyss finds itself in. It’s absolutely adorable, but is there enough depth to it?
Sadly the short answer is ‘no’. The Abyss will last you a mere three hours to complete everything that’s on offer. At the same time the developers are not asking you to empty your wallet to purchase their game. It’ll set you back a mere R24.00 on the South African Nintendo eShop. Though the game, which I’ll get into in a bit, is really short there is a big story that surrounds our little robot on his adventure into the abyss.
The human race is once again in danger from being extinct. In its efforts to find new energy sources a biometrical robot, called Nep2no (that looks something like a combination between a squid, devil fish and alien), is created to search extreme depths to find it. After a year of searching a new energy source is found, code named “Gaia”. It’s now up to you to use Nep2no to find Gaia stones in the depths of the abyss. And so you make your way straight into the depths to save the human race once more. That’s quite deep for something that will last you an afternoon. But hey, we’ve got humans to save!
The first thing you’ll tackle are the missions, whereof there are 12 levels. The controls are very simplistic, which in return makes it very complicated once you reach the harder levels. Nep2no moves through the water holding, or often tapping, the A button. Problem is that, though you’re in water, there is still gravity at play. You’ve basically got a combination of water and gravity physics, which makes the control of Nep2no a battle at first. You’re constantly tapping away at the left analogue stick to ensure he’s facing in the right direction, as you’re often tasked at moving in the opposite direction when momentum takes over. Once you catch on to the controls the rest is not too difficult.
Nep2no’s aim is to make it from point A to B through a linear path lined with dangerous surroundings. Touch the side and you’ll damage the little guy, whereby he flashes bright red to warn you that he’s in trouble. Give or take about three seconds and he’ll turn back to his normal pale greenish blue colour. Smack into an obstacle right after your first mistake (those three seconds) and it’s back to the start for you. If you’re a patient player you’ll breeze through most the levels. If patience and planning does not form part of your profile you’ll be swearing more than playing. Once you’ve mastered the 12 original missions another set of eight levels will be made available, called ‘Dark’. This is where things get a little more interesting.
As is obvious you’re now up against the dark corners of the abyss. When collecting the Gaia stones it provides you with a surrounding light, which in the first 12 levels was rather pointless. Now you’re up against time in the form of the light running out until you get to the next stone. Thankfully things aren’t pitch black, but anything around him blurs so that you can’t make out a glowing stone from an obstacle. In ‘Dark’ you also have razor sharps spinning wheels to contend with, as well as gates that require an activation to open it. Problem is that as soon as you start to get into the swing of things and enjoying the title it comes to an abrupt end.
There’s an Arcade mode that appears once done with Dark mode, but it’s basically the same levels all over again. It’s just that you’re now trying to improve on your times for each level… and the leaderboard is local only with no online integration. There’s no use of the Gamepad, other than using it as a second screen. There is a 2-player mode, but it’s nothing too exciting. The first one to reach the finish line wins. So it’s in essence a race and can only be played locally with the second player using a Wii Remote. If The Abyss had double the number of levels and online integration it would easily be one of the most charming games on the Wii U, especially at the cost of R24.oo, but sadly it’s a bit out of its depth.