As I start this review, I must remind myself of a conversation I recently had with a friend. Critics should base their reviews on the intention of the project. I tend to think of one our of favorite movies: Baseketball. It’s a dumb comedy, and it’s really poorly reviewed. But just because it’s no Citizen Kane doesn’t mean it’s unworthy of better scores. It’s funny and a decent critique on the sports industry. When it’s all said and done, Baseketball achieved what it set out to do. So we’ll remember that for Odyssey.
The first thing that struck me about Odyssey (subtitled The Next Generation Science Game) was its atmosphere. The landscapes are well developed and pleasing to the eye. And the soundtrack matches the setting perfectly, sucking you further into this almost Myst-like island mystery.
At it’s heart, Odyssey is an educational puzzle game. You’re following the trail of a family of explorers on a small collection of islands. Following hints from journal pages left behind by the daughter, you progress through science-based puzzles in order to – hopefully – find them alive.
The puzzles are fine, and rest mostly in teachings of astronomy. This is really where the education happens. Players interact with models in order to open doors and discover items. And although I could easily see kids playing this, even adults can learn something from this very unique game.
There were a couple technical glitches I ran into while playing, but it was nothing that pulled you too far out of the experience. I will also say there is a lot of journal reading. It’s pretty clear it is supposed to help establish the characters and solve future puzzles, but it could be a bit much for some players. Many hints were fairly easy to figure out, which meant I found myself often looking for the highlighted portions of the text to figure out how to move forward. This can be good for kids, but it doesn’t teach reading comprehension.
Remember the goal here: judge the game based on its intent. It’s a pretty game with good music, some fun puzzles and an overall good idea. Execution was solid, but lacked a certain “je ne sais quoi” that these types of projects can struggle to find. I enjoyed my time with it, and I hope the team continues on in the gaming industry.