Monday, September 04, 2006

The Odyssey: Winds of Athena Review

The Odyssey: Winds of Athena, developed and published by Liquid Dragon Studios.
The Good: Use of fluid physics is very creative, easy to learn, gradually introduces new enemies and procedures, game can be tricky
The Not So Good: Graphics could be better, base mechanics are monotonous
What say you? A truly unique concept and a fun, challenging game to boot: 6/8

Ancient Greece has been the setting of numerous movies and video games: Age of Mythology, Troy, and Revenge of the Nerds to name a few. The time period is ripe with spectacular mythical events involving gods and goddesses imposing their will on defenseless humans. The Odyssey: Winds of Athena involves altering the seas to guide Odysseus (the guy in The Odyssey) on his misadventures of wackiness following the Trojan War (apparently a war about prophylactics).

The Odyssey: Winds of Athena is played from an overhead perspective and the graphics are generally 2-D in nature. They could have been more detailed, but the graphics are on par with most puzzle games. The environments are a good enough representation of rocky shorelines and the water flowing through the ocean areas looks good enough and indicates which way it is flowing. The ships are very small and hard to see sometimes when the action is mildly intense. The sound is also pretty standard fare, with appropriate background music and some sound effects to accompany the action that’s taking place. Overall, the graphics and sound of The Odyssey: Winds of Athena is exactly what’d you expect in a game such as this.

The Odyssey: Winds of Athena features a single player campaign where you are presented with a series of maps (50 to be exact) and you must guide a specified number of ships from their starting point to the goal. This is done by using two methods: wind and moving water. Producing wind is very simple: just use your mouse in a circular motion to move ships in a straight line down their path. Making currents in the water is done by dragging your mouse in the intended direction to funnel the ships down the river. The Odyssey: Winds of Athena uses a good fluid physics model, as the water behaves exactly like it should when you start to move it around. Learning the game’s mechanics is very easy, as the entire game is controlled with the mouse and the correct gestures make sense. The difficulty of the game results from the player moving too much water around and different currents colliding, causing all sorts of confusion. To make matters worse, there are a number of obstacles scattered around the maps: rocky coastlines that will destroy ships and a number of characters that will throw objects or otherwise disrupt your ships in a variety of ways if you venture too closely. These objects are introduced gradually, so the campaign also serves as a tutorial of sorts. This also lets the player experience new things over time, keeping the player interested in the game as the campaign progresses. Playing the game is pretty fun as well, and it takes some skill to properly maneuver the ocean currents in the correct path and utilize the wind effectively. The game adds new obstacles frequently enough to make each puzzle seem different, or at least more difficult than the last. The core concept of the game won’t appeal to all players, however, and you really need to enjoy the fluid physics to get the most out of the game.

The Odyssey: Winds of Athena is a very unique game and there’s nothing else quite like it available. The game is very easy to learn and control and this should appeal to all age groups. The game can become quite challenging when numerous obstacles are presented on the maps. However, the game does suffer from some repetition as the controls don’t change and consist of only two movements, so in some ways the simplicity of the game works to its disadvantage. You can interact with a lot of the objects around the map by grabbing rocks or slapping characters, but these are minor diversions in the grand scheme of things. The Odyssey: Winds of Athena gets major points for being a completely unique idea, but the gameplay might become boring after a while to people who aren’t fully enthralled by the title. Still, The Odyssey: Winds of Athena is not just another puzzle game and its originality goes a long way to making it both enjoyable and distinguished.