One of the best things about video gaming is that it can take an act that’s truly terrible in real life and make it both amazing and fun. Whaling? Yeah, no, seriously what the hell is wrong with people? Space-whaling with total badasses on space-bikes chasing after the vicious space-fishies who will spike and claw you to space-shreds if you let up for even a second? Now that’s a proper challenge! Blacksea Odyssey takes the “rugged man of the sea” mythology and wraps it around hunting terrible death-beasts through the stars, armed only with spear and harpoon. It’s on Kickstarter with a playable demo, and its challenge is epic.
The Blacksea Odyssey is a tournament where the greatest hunters in the universe compete to bring in the most deadly nightmare creatures to be found in the void between stars. Each level in the alpha starts from home base, where you can choose between two or three challenges with different bosses and difficulty bonuses. Faster, more powerful monsters might come with a greater chance of epic runes or more chest keys, for example. The hunt plays out as an action roguelike, with a randomly generated layout of rocky walls adding a small bit of structure to the arena, and monster lairs sending out radar pulses on the mini-map. The boss, which is the main hunting target, remains dormant until either shot on purpose or a stray harpoon wakes it up, but until it gets moving you can explore the area and mine it for goodies.
Each monster nest is a selection of beasts ranging from slightly big to utterly huge, especially when elemental versions are found. The smaller beasts only require a few spears to take down, shot with the right trigger while aiming is standard twin-stick style, but the bigger beasts warrant breaking out the harpoon. The harpoon is slow to charge but latches on to what it hits, not only doing extra damage but also letting you ride along and ping spears into the creature more easily. A quick tap of the left trigger reels it back in, if the skies get too crowded for monster-surfing, but do enough damage to the part the harpoon is sunk into and it can be ripped clean off the monster’s body. It’s a brutal combination of vicious and awesome.
Even if you pass on the harpoon for the regular creatures, it’s absolutely vital for the nightmare bosses dominating each level. Each boss can be torn apart piece by piece, and seeing as they’re basically invulnerable everywhere except the removable parts it’s necessary to shred them into shape while they chase, spike, and bludgeon you back. The two standard bosses are fairly impressive but Leviathan is just ridiculously huge, sleeping below the plane of action until you fly over his eyeball, then rising up to fill several screens with toothy, spiky, ice- and blood-beam doom.
Blacksea Odyssey’s alpha demo is a seriously impressive bit of action gaming, brutal and mean and great fun. Runes power up the bike and spear, regular enemies are troublesome and make for a serious encounter when you run across an elemental version, bosses are properly menacing, and The Old Man is simply a fantastic piece of character design. Head on over to the Kickstarter page and give it a download, and don’t get too discouraged if it tears you apart a time or two before you clear a level. The interstellar depths are by no means a safe or easy place to hunt, but for a true challenger of the beasts of the endless void no other prey is worthy.