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ACE Team

Endless Cylinder photo
Endless Cylinder

Toothcrotch aliens threaten cute lil' dicknose

Not to mention hippo trucks
Jul 06
// Zack Furniss
ACE team has created some bizarre stuff in the past (Zeno Clash, Rock of Ages, anyone?), but co-founder Carlos Bordeu has pushed even further with Endless Cylinder. You hatch from an egg on a strange planet as a small bi...
Abyss Odyssey PS4 photo
Abyss Odyssey PS4

Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition is coming to the PS4

Dodge-cancels are in
May 11
// Chris Carter
Abyss Odyssey was a pretty neat little action game that was built on fighting game mechanics, and in addition to the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 release, it's also coming to the PS4 as an Extended Dream Edition. The game will...

Review: Abyss Odyssey

Jul 15 // Alasdair Duncan
Abyss Odyssey (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Developer: ACE TeamPublisher: AtlusMSRP: $14.99/£10.99 Released: July 15, 2014  Santiago, 1890: strange cracks in the ground have appeared across the city, revealing a nether realm of monsters and unusual beings. While the army tries to hold back the nightmarish tide, a strange woman appears, brandishing a sword and leaping into the fray to fight back. Her name is Katrien and she reveals these creatures and the Abyss itself are aspects of the mind of a powerful warlock. All of this is the setup of a particularly unique type of roguelike, a game that's closer to the recent Sunless Sea than The Binding of Issac or Spelunky. Those two games were more centered about you gaining knowledge and experience to help you progress a little further each time but Abyss Odyssey is built more about repeating levels and grinding XP to help the player progress. [embed]277987:54866:0[/embed] While Abyss Odyssey has permadeath of sorts, it's not implemented in the ways you're used to; for starters, if Katrien or one of the other player characters should fall, a soldier will take over and can revive the fallen hero if they're able to get to a shrine that might be in the level. This is neat because the soldier will level up along with the main hero (but will still be the weaker of the two). Sometimes it's easier to just run away from combat and try and find the nearest shrine, especially if you passed one on the way. Players will retain XP and their level between deaths, along with any money they've found. This is where the real progression lies as the more a player levels up, the easier the enemies will be in the earlier dungeons. There's still some difficulty spikes though, like some mini-bosses that will dish out a real beating even if you've breezed through the upper levels. It's here where frustration can set in as progress can feel quite slow at times, especially when you've replayed the opening few levels eight or nine times already. The procedurally-generated layouts aren't varied enough to make each run stand out, so you're left with a feeling of spinning your wheels while slowly getting your rewards. There's three entrances to the Abyss, each with its own set of levels descending deeper and deeper into the ground. Each level is procedurally generated and the difficulty level will be different each time you play, although that really only manifests itself in the enemies that you encounter. Things like spikes and lava pits don't drastically increase the challenge and in the first few hours, you'll only see a handful of enemies. The difficulty will ramp up to the point where you're going to just whittle down the amount of health you have until your eventual demise.  Don't be fooled, though -- enemies are still tough to deal with even on Easy levels. Undead soldiers and the freakish-looking, armless birdmen are tricky on their own but once you're facing two or three of them at a time, it becomes really important for the player to keep their guard up and pick off the weaker enemies first. They'll dodge projectile attacks and will chase you down, although there were plenty of times when I was slightly higher up than some enemies and they simply left me alone to wail on a single opponent without joining in. Some have counter attacks that will flip you up into the air leaving you vulnerable to combos and others will wield poisoned or cursed weapons. In a nice touch, it's clear when enemies are holding special weapons and things like keys, which makes it easier to know who you should take out first.  The combat in Abyss Odyssey is surprising in its depth. Each character can only wield one main weapon (different soldiers wield different firearms as their special attack), but there's still a lot to master. Enemies are smart enough to dodge and weave out of the way of your attacks, even at the easier difficulty levels. Swipes can hit enemies that are behind the player and while it's tempting to just button-mash, it's much more effective to get in a few hits between blocks. One frustration is that it's easy to get your character facing the wrong way. Katrien is the more balanced of the three playable characters, especially in terms of speed when compared to the Ghostly Monk. There's a range of moves that all characters have, from cancelling out of the special attacks to utilizing the air dodge to launch a new combo. While I'm hesitant to say Abyss Odyssey has the same depth of moves as something like Street Fighter IV, it has a much more robust fighting system than you'd expect from a game that appears to be a 2D action-platformer. The addition of two-player co-op makes fight sequences even more frantic and enjoyable. Another neat feature is the ability to possess enemies and use them as a secondary character. If you can accumulate enough mana, you can unleash a binding spell that will capture an adversary and allow you to flip between them and your main character. Your captured character has a separate health bar, so it's worth alternating between the two and taking advantage of any health drops to get your main all healed up. However, it would have been nice if this was explained at the start of the game; a lot of the small fundamental mechanics aren't properly introduced, which maddeningly enough extends to the no-death tutorial/prologue at the start. There are markers that point out where you should block, dash, and so forth but there's no button prompts to tell you how to actually do those moves. I had to exit to the main menu and look at the controller config screen to figure out what I had to do. That sense of discovery can be exciting to some but here it feels like a barrier to progress. In a game like this where mastering the mechanics is key, there's a lot to learn early on in Abyss Odyssey and it can feel slightly overwhelming. Once you understand that you're only expected to get so far in, die, and come back again, you'll be able to get into a groove that allows you to explore further and further. While it would be nice to see some more variety in the level layouts and early enemies, there's still a really enjoyable and deep combat system that's reason enough to descend into the Abyss.  [Note: There are some planned community goals that will affect the state of certain parts of the game but this wasn't able to be tested before release.]
Abyss Odyssey photo
A strange mix of 2D combat and surreal visuals
One thing you can't accuse Chilean developer ACE Team of doing is ploughing the same, well trodden ground as other indie devs. Its debut hit Zeno Clash combined a surrealistic art style with first-person, melee combat, while ...

Abyss Odyssey photo
Abyss Odyssey

See how the fighting system works in Abyss Odyssey

New 'Judith' trailer
Mar 14
// Chris Carter
Abyss Odyssey is set to release later this year on the 360, PC, and PS3, and now you can get a closer look at the battle system. ACE Team has stated that they wanted this 2D platformer to feel more like a fighting game, and ...

Abyss Odyssey photo
Abyss Odyssey

Abyss Odyssey is a 2D platformer with roguelike elements

PC, PS3, and Xbox 360
Mar 05
// Chris Carter
ACE Team's next game is Abyss Odyssey, a 2D platformer that contains roguelike designs and randomly generated levels. The developer's intention is to have it feel like a fighting game, and have every single enemy feel formid...

Review: Zeno Clash II

May 02 // Fraser Brown
Zeno Clash II (PC [Reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Developer: ACE TeamPublisher: AtlusReleased: April 30, 2013MSRP: $19.99 Everything is bigger in Zeno Clash II. The narrative, combat, and world have all been pumped full of steroids, but, like the shrinking testicles of a roid addict, this creates all sorts of problems. The first Zeno Clash was a short adventure with familial themes and lies uncovered, it was undeniably bizarre, but personal. Not so this time. Instead we're left with an all too familiar "epic" journey, one to defeat a big, bad Golem, and save the world. A freakish gallery of characters, both new and returning, crop up constantly, but only exist to move the confused plot forward, with no time given to developing the completely alien civilizations that pepper the game-world. Protagonist Ghat collects companions like Pokémon, barely giving them the time of day before putting them in an invisible ally prison, only really bringing them out for certain fights. There's a strange dearth of character or world building, with the journey itself becoming the focus. [embed]252537:48487:0[/embed] It's a substantial journey, though. Ghat and Co travel the world by land and sea, going to haunts both new and old, with each trying to outdo the others in strangeness and to the point where they begin to defy description. There are the deadly, monolithic houses of the Golems, dead lands populated by horrifying animated statues, a desert filled with angry shrimp-people, and rolling grasslands where the flora spurts out bubbles and fountains of water.  There are countless moments where I felt like a tourist, stopping dead in my tracks to gawk at a gigantic statue or an impossible structure. Unfortunately, gawk was all I could really do, as there are few interactions available in Zeno Clash's many areas. Skill totems -- for the tacked-on RPG element -- and chests are the only reasons to go off the beaten track, and the lack of a proper map makes that unnecessarily obstinate.  Ghat's not a tourist, though -- he's a man who punches things in the face, repeatedly. He does it well, too. Zeno Clash II boasts an extremely competent first-person melee system, and it's both simple and rewarding. The system is built around stringing combos together to raise the special meter, before firing off an energized, powerful attack that can fling enemies all over the place. Rather than demanding players unlock attacks as they play, it's skill-based and one can experiment with all of their attacks right from the start. Grabs, stuns, throws, enemy juggling, kicking, and ramming can all be pulled off without the need for keyboard hammering, and the combat tutorial can be accessed again and again if you fail to recall a particular combo or want to practice the all important dodge and counter moves. Getting into a rhythm is paramount. Foes, appropriately, have tells. With experience comes the ability to perfectly time a dodge, and then come back swinging. It's fluid, and feels a bit more refined than in the original, if not all that different. Hammers and guns can be picked up from fallen enemies or uncovered in chests, but they are a lot more limited than Ghat's fists. The hammers are extremely slow, though they do pack a punch, and can scatter groups of enemies. I can't say I really cared for the firearms, though. They are flimsy things with only a tiny amount of ammunition, and the feedback is awful, like trying to shoot people with a peashooter.  One area, the shrimp infested desert, tasks Ghat with climbing up some rather lofty cliffs. Surrounded by these sheer drops, the bouts really became a joy. Beset on all sides by foes, I'd happily uppercut hideous shrimp-men into oblivion (and off the side of the cliff) all day long. It's a shame that the environment doesn't play much of a role in the action outside of that instance. Anywhere else, being surrounded by foes is just, frankly, fucking awful. With its temperamental lock-on feature, first-person perspective, and uncompromising field of view, Zeno Clash II seems to have been designed specifically with one-on-one battles, yet continually throws little armies at Ghat.  Foes get in each other's way, constantly jockeying for position, and fill the screen with flailing limbs and angry bodies. It becomes even more infuriating when you have no idea that there's a bugger right beside you, about to punch you right in the head, but you can't see him because of the ridiculous limitations of the FOV (which are apparently going to be fixed in a patch). The hit detection can be fairly iffy, as well, with strikes often not landing when it really looks like the should. It is far more noticeable in these big, annoying brawls than in less crowded fights.  One might think that's where bombs would play a role -- but you'd be completely wrong. No matter where they are looking or what they are doing, every bloody bastard seems to know you've chucked a bomb, and will appropriately flee. Throw a bomb into a pile of ten enemies, and you might slightly injure one or two. On top of the bombs, Ghat gets three other special tools, Golem devices, to aid him on his ten-hour journey. It is the Golem hand that's most worthy of special mention. An invention that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Go'ald's hand weapon from Stargate, it links objects and enemies together. It's used for some of Zeno Clash's simple puzzles and a boss encounter, but sees the greatest use in ordinary battles. When two opponents are linked together, an attack on one of them affects the other. There's nothing more to it, but it's a damned godsend. Although the link only lasts for a handful of seconds, it's an effective way to dispatch groups of angry fellows before Ghat gets surrounded.  It is in these orgies of kicks and punches where Ghat's companions -- limited to two at any one time -- can be employed. I hate them. They are a plague sent to test me. Regardless of how difficult they are to recruit, they are all appalling brawlers, and serve only to distract enemies so that Ghat can get a bit of breathing room before they drop a smoke bomb and vanish, leaving players to fend for themselves at inopportune moments.  And whatever you do, don't go near them in a scrap. Inexplicably, allies seem to close their eyes during battle, and don't appear to notice if Ghat's standing right next to them. This inevitably leads to friends punching you in the face as often as foes. I confess some disappointment that most of what I want to talk about pertains to the combat, instead of the exceptionally imaginative setting and its residents. Lamentably, the world is never elevated beyond a gorgeous, bizarre battle arena, and its colorful denizens immediately become less interesting when they start to speak thanks to the shoddy voice acting and the rather dreary, pseudo-philosophical script.  The Golem is, admittedly, an interesting chap. Ostensibly the bad guy, he really believes in what he's doing, and wants to bring law and order to this chaotic world because he genuinely thinks that everyone would be better off not being completely flipping mental. He's certainly more sympathetic than Ghat, who comes across as a somewhat petulant, moody rebel, made all the worse by the fact that his voice actor sounds like he's half asleep.  The world of the original Zeno Clash was genuinely interesting, and certainly an example of less is more, but this time around it merely seems interesting, before revealing itself to be a bit shallow under the veneer of zaniness, though the veneer is certainly impressive and did succeed in keeping me eager for more. Zeno Clash II might be bigger than its predecessor, but it fails to be truly better. It's worth experiencing for those who loved the original, because it still contains a lot of what made that title unique, and the combat -- when not descending into huge brawls -- is wonderful. But in an attempt to spin a meaty, almost Argonautica-style epic, ACE Team might have gotten a wee bit lost, just as I did when I tried to use that good-for-nothing, half-arsed map. 
Zeno Clash II review photo
Getting the bizarre gang back together
I've found that it's a rather fruitless endeavour to guess which games will get a sequel -- mainly because I'm usually wrong. If you'd asked me "Fraser, will there be a Zeno Clash II?" I would have confidently responded with ...

Zeno Clash II photo
Zeno Clash II

Zeno Clash II hits Steam April 30

Steam pre-order perks announced
Apr 02
// Dale North
Zeno Clash II, the follow-up to ACE Team's weird and wonderful first-person puncher, gets a sequel release on Steam this April 30. Atlus and ACE Team have the brawler lined up for Valve's Steam service for only $19....

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