I don’t know about you, but I enjoy those tough and nails side-scrollers that heavily encourage the player to plug in that one last try, time and time again. Odium to the Core is a fairly good example, and serves itself as a simple game to get into, but a thoroughly hard one to master. Odium to the Core is a single-button side-scroller that ties its gameplay to music-heavy levels, meaning that all it takes is the tapping of a single button to make it from one end of the level to the other. Sounds rather easy, right? Wrong, it’s freakishly hard, but that’s the beauty of it.
The gameplay itself couldn’t be easier if it tried. Taking on the role of a small black circular creature known as Odium, you’ll hold A to ascend, and let go to descend. That’s that. Each level within is structured in such a way that you’ll need to perfectly time Odium’s movement in order to progress. The game’s dark monochromatic art style sits well with the overall design, making for a series of miniature treks that are never poorly relayed to the player. You’ll always know what’s coming, and will always have just the right amount of time to wiggle out of tight spots.
Players don’t have any directional control over Odium. Instead, the level and Odium will be in constant movement as you move up and down throughout. The game has a devious side to it, oftentimes altering the speed of movement at the drop of a hat. This further encourages quick thinking, and to its credit, adds a thick layer of tension into the mix. Each level is well designed, consistently throwing new obstacles in your path to avoid and overcome. Despite the steep difficulty, Odium does well at feeding you into the fields of play during the first few levels.
There’s almost a false sense of security present here, as the game teases you into believing that you’ll have it complete in a matter of two hours or less. However, before long, the game’s difficulty makes a harsh spike, showing you its true, challenging colors. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s not much of a story present here, but in the face of its solid gameplay, that’s easy to overlook. The plot tells of Odium seeking out cores to stop the spread of a nefarious corruption, which in effect, will ultimately save the world within in the process.
The game’s few cutscenes are well put together, collectively injecting some more personality. Nevertheless, the concept of play remains the same throughout; get from A to B in one piece. You’ll always start each level on the left side, with the core positioned to the far right. The game’s levels (making no errors) take about three minutes to complete. However, this is one of those games that will see you spending north of fifteen minutes on just one level as you struggle to bypass a specific obstacle. There’s quite a healthy serving of longevity here too.
Though, perhaps not as lengthy as the developer hopes. There’s some pretty wacky achievements within that are tied to time-played; play for one hour, play for three hours, right up to play for twelve hours. I highly doubt that many will pass the six hour mark, but the game, as alluded to above, has quite a decent portion of replay value. The game’s fifteen levels come with three gears a piece, each of which encompass an achievement for fulfilling certain requirements across the entirety of play; one for orbs, one for score, and one for padlocks.
Orbs are dotted around each level, and in order to fulfill the gear, you’ll need to collect all of them without missing a single one. Score is much easier to achieve, given that you simply need to beat the par-score for each level. The kicker here is that the less you tap the A button, the greater a score you’ll earn. Now, as for the padlocks, these are hidden around each level in some tricky places. Collect them all and the gear requirement will be fulfilled. Despite how straightforward that sounds, it’s a very tough ask. In fact, I’ve only maxed out one level myself.
That said, you’ll earn new cosmetics for your hard work, for whatever that’s worth. There’s also some nightmare levels to unlock for added length. Outside of that, an endless mode awaits those that fancy something more singular and drawn out. Here, as expected, the aim of the game is to make it as far through a single run as you can, hitting a high-score in the process and unlocking some more skins for Odium. I’ll say this, Odium to the Core is not going to be for everyone. By and large, this is a rage inducing game that will test many players’ patience.
My only gripe with the whole package is that it can be much tougher than it needs to be. So much so that after so long, frustration tends to chase away any notion of fun. That being said, when you finally nail a level that you’ve been stuck on, it’s empowering. Well, until you realize you missed a single orb. I do have to commend the game for its level design. Much like any good game of this kind, Odium knows when to up the ante, and it knows how to keep the experience fresh from start to finish – despite how simplistic the foundation of play is.
Each level brings with it new and interesting obstacles and enemies to overcome. Whether it’s deadly guillotine that will grow and shrink with the sound of the music, or large spike-ridden worms that mass the screen, you’re always treated to something fresh. Furthermore, the game’s level design strikes a fine balance with these elements, oftentimes giving you little room for error, but just enough space to return from a minor fault. It helps, of course, that the game has a gorgeously sharp presentation about it, complete with a soundtrack that truly stands out.
I was a little underwhelmed with the boss sequences, being that they’re not really boss fights but more levels with bosses intertwined into them. Here, you’ll maneuver around the level as it weaves in some devilishly awkward routes, avoiding boss attacks along the way. So long as you follow the path of the orbs, you’re generally staying safe. They’re fun, don’t get me wrong, but it would have been nice to see more player-to-boss engagement. Whatever the case, Odium to the Core is a solid game for the most part. It’s stylish, challenging, and thoroughly entertaining.
Odium is one hell of a challenging side-scroller, so much so that it walks a very fine line between being fun and being irritating. That said, Odium does a wonderful job at keeping its gameplay fresh through the steady flow of new, tricky additions. Furthermore, the game offers quite a decent chunk of replay value, and, thanks to its gorgeous monochromatic art style, together with its epic techno music, it rarely grows tiresome.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.