Odallus: The Dark Call is a NES inspired game that reminds myself and many others of the classic Castlevania games. Mixing exploration based level design with aggressive enemies allows the player to constantly feel engaged with the action. Despite originally releasing in 2015 on Steam, the games popularity never slowed. After finally making its way to consoles at the end of 2019, many new fans have given the game incredible feedback for how well it captures such a classic feel.
The first impactful decision the player is given is the difficulty level. Despite being a Castlevania veteran, I decided to play this game on normal difficulty to give me a fair view on what the game would be like for first timers. After selecting the difficulty level, I was treated to a 8-bit style cutscene. This featured the staple elements that are expected of this genre of game; Moving set images, 8-bit music and text appearing along the bottom.
My impressions of Odallus: The Dark Call were already positive and I had yet to reach the gameplay sections. After starting the first level, I was hit with something that was very common in Castlevania, the difficulty spike.
Unlike current games, the older days of the NES and SNES failed to hold the players hand. Odallus: The Dark Call was exactly the same in this regard, as the enemies did not hold back at all even at the very beginning of the level.
Despite playing on normal, the game provided a challenge whilst also still staying enjoyable. The level design also complimented the various projectile based enemies, which once again added to the challenge. The game has no tutorial and only shows brief instructions when it’s absolutely necessary, which is something I personally expected from the game. It might not be something that newcomers anticipate though and unfortunately might sway their views on the beginning of the game. I encourage any new players to press every single button upon starting the gameplay section to quickly learn the various actions available.
The various puzzles featuring moveable blocks, jumping areas and secret areas really added to the immersion and made the game feel more than just a constant battle. Figuring out how to get to a hidden chest helped me feel accomplished and encouraged me to continue playing.
In regards to the story, it’s not entirely vital to the experience. That being said, the story is certainly there. Before players make it to the title screen of the game, they are greeted by an opening cutscene. Additional cutscenes describing the plot of the game play as the player progresses through the levels. The story is fairly simple and somewhat stereotypical of this genre of game, but it certainly isn’t bad. The game does not centre itself entirely around the story, it’s more of an added extra for those who want a fully immersive experience whilst playing through the levels.
Graphically the game is outstanding. Despite using an 8-bit style, the details are incredible and really lend themselves to the tone of the game. The user interface was perhaps the hardest thing to get used to, but that’s only because I’m personally not used to 8-bit games looking so clean and tidy. The music in Odallus: The Dark Call is exactly the same. Perfectly created for the 8-bit style and genre of the game. The classic feeling the music gives off truly makes the experience feel like the game was created in the 80s. The music doesn’t feel overly repetitive and is actually extremely enjoyable to listen to on its own. The soundtrack is something I can see myself listening to whilst writing and is by far one of my favourite aspects of the game.
Odallus: The Dark Call was created in many ways to respect classic games such as Castlevania and it easily surpasses this goal. With an incredible soundtrack, engaging level design and easy to understand combat, the game really couldn’t be closer to the 8-bit gems of old. For gamers who want to enjoy a classic experience in a new game, Odallus: The Dark Call is certainly the game to do it.