Although indie developer Dark-1 calls their game a music-based rhythm title, in reality it is more of a hardcore maze-platformer hybrid with some rhythm thrown in for good measure. The music is really there to add to its intensity and challenge. Odium To the Core (Free) is challenging to say the least, and it may surprise some of you given how easy it is to control. This is one of the more intense and interesting games to hit the App Store recently.
From the second I turned on Odium To the Core, it reminded me of an older title called Tentacles: Enter the Dolphin ($2.99). Like Tentacles, it is an arcade game at heart with the goal of navigating a series of tunnel-like levels from one side to the other through various twists, turns and surprises. Also like Tentacles, it has a very surrealistic art style with objects moving around in both the foreground and background with parallax scrolling and it offers pretty good music to go along with the ride.
One big difference between this game and Tentacles is that unlike in the latter title, you do not have hit points to absorb damage with. All it will take is one hit and you die. And you will die a lot. And no the game doesn’t have a story explaining much of what or who you are and what you’re trying to do. It just throws you right in the mix of things. You will be navigating across techno-futuristic landscapes with machines moving around and getting in your way to the next checkpoint, marked by a red outline. These checkpoints could not come soon enough as you will realize while going through various challenges and still waiting for it to appear only to die and have to restart the section.
The game controls very well on the touchscreen because it has a very bare minimum control scheme that works. You tap to stay afloat or hold your finger longer to allow your character to float upwards. The more you tap the less overall points you earn, but in order to keep the character leveled, you will be tapping a lot. There are also various orbs to collect for added points, however they are not necessary to finish a level. To do that, you will need to reach the exit. The levels are quite long and there is a descent amount of them, thus even hardcore tapping gurus will get their money’s worth I would not worry about points, however, as you will soon find out that surviving and reaching the exit will be most paramount.
The game’s levels vary and even in-between levels the scenery and rhythm changes. The game will slow down in sections and then really quickly speed up, thus keeping you always on your toes. There will also be water sections to dive into and navigate as well as narrow tunnels to squeeze through as the camera zooms in or out of view. It is a pretty nifty and cool experience, although it is easy to get frustrated and quit due to the game’s difficulty. I almost did that at the second level where for the love of me I could not pass a single section in the middle of the level where you are quickly diving above a cave slope to quickly have to tap in order to avoid a low hanging ceiling and machinery.
It is worth persevering though as things only get interesting from there. Every level seems hand-crafted and unique with new layouts, background effects and hues from the previous ones. The aesthetics are as varied as the gameplay tricks each level will throw at you. There are things moving in the background and the environments themselves become obstacles. For instance, in the latest level I actually made it to, I see some water flowing downwards from a pipe you have to navigate across and it actually affects your velocity, slowing you down. There are various hazards and obstacles to overcome in this game and it will test even the most hardcore of players. Your thumb or forefinger will be quite soar during some of your play sessions, particularly in any level past 4-5.
This is not all though. The game will keep surprising you if you keep with it. For instance, the sixth level introduces another long-tailed creature to navigate the world alongside you. These kinds of gameplay surprises will keep coming the farther you get. Odium To the Core is not for everyone. Some players will not have the patience to even pass level two. It is not your typical mobile title by any stretch of the imagination. If you are up for the challenge, however, give it a try. For anyone else, the game is worth having on your mobile device for the art style and aesthetics if nothing else. It is really a great demonstration of parallax scrolling and cool graphics to take in and chill to.