PAX South: Blacksea Odyssey is Great Dumb Fun

It’s not like we haven’t seen the concept behind Blacksea Odyssey before. There has to be dozens of games where the player takes control of a star surfing huntsperson (or alien beast), traveling a map to take down screen filling space creatures using a harpoon to rip entire chunks off of the beasts, while weakening them with thrown spears. The fact that the developer by the same name ostensibly based the experience on Earnest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea? *Yawn* Talk about old hat.

All sarcasm aside, there is no denying that the developer has metaphorically shot for the stars with their title. Despite appearances, the pieces of the experience seems to come together as a whole that is worth trying out. Taking place in space, players traverse myriad randomly generated maps to earn runes for upgrades, with each map culminating in an epic showdown with an overlarge creature that looks to have escaped the stygian depths of the sea to swim amongst the cosmos. The maps themselves are wide open, with obstacles able to be tunneled through with the use of a dash move.

In practice, the set up leads to a light rogue style game, with an addictive loop of hunting and upgrading. Graphically, one could be forgiven for thinking that the game looks simple. Such a dismissal doesn’t take into account the actual enemies. There are smaller creatures that can be defeated using basic twin-stick shooting mechanics. Those are a simple warm up for the actual fights, where the beasts have multiple parts to remove. Attaching a harpoon tethers the hunter to a part of the creature so that it cannot get away. Throwing spears weakens it until the part can be forcibly removed. It’s like all of the satisfaction of puling the legs off of a spider without the pesky stigma of being a sociopath. After, the player upgrades with runes and whatnot, then moves on to an even bigger challenge.

Of course, this game has been available on Steam since last summer. With a very positive user rating on the service, it seems that many fans already know about what makes this game special. The reason that Blacksea Odyssey was present at this year’s PAX South was to both increase awareness, and advertise the upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release of the game. While a date wasn’t hammered down, this title will be hitting those platforms later this year.

As a side note, I was particularly curious about how the developer used the plot to The Old Man and the Sea for their game. I asked a few questions without getting much satisfaction, so I ended up asking if, during the final hunt, a shark comes along and devours the catch. I was told no, but there was a giant, multiscreen filling whale beast to fight. So, in this tale, the man do catch the feesh. I’m going to write my ese.