It’s not that surprising that fast-action games played on a completely smooth touchscreen can get… messy. It’s been a thing since the dawn of mobile gaming. Sure, touchscreens can be an amazing input device for games that have been designed with them in mind, but when you try to make a more traditional controller-based game for mobile and rely on a whole bunch of virtual buttons to get the job done, it doesn’t always turn out great. The awesome thing is that it isn’t a black and white situation, and developers who think a bit outside the box can come up with clever ways to make a true action game that controls just fine using virtual buttons on a glass surface. That is exactly the case with Retro Abyss, by a developer that goes by the name Ben Big Game Studio.
On any other platform, you’d probably call Retro Abyss a combat-focused arena platformer. I mean, that’s what it is here, too. But there are a couple of key differences that make this something more unique, and something that plays really well on the touchscreen. One is that the whole game takes place underwater. So while you do move left and right, and you do press a jump button to jump just like any other platformer, you can also press jump multiple times in a row or simply hold it down and continue to rise up and up and up. Together with the game’s floaty physics, controlling your character feels very similar to a cave flyer, something like Jetpack Joyride, which feels super comfortable and familiar on a touchscreen.
The other big unique feature in Retro Abyss is how weapons work. You fire them by the tried-and-true touch and then drag method, which produces a dotted line showing you the direction your weapon will fire. Yes, pretty much like slingshotting Angry Birds around. There’s also a subtle bullet time-esque slowdown while you’re aiming, and together with the float around style of movement, makes combat this very delicate, almost ballet-like dance of jumping, aiming, dodging, and firing. Once you get the hang of everything it all starts to feel second nature, and there’s some truly satisfying moments as you nail a long-distance shot or narrowly avoid being hit by an enemy’s projectile. This is a fast-action game that’s been slowed down, but somehow doesn’t quite feel like it has been.
The weapons in Retro Abyss are also something worth highlighting. There are 4 different classes to play as, and they all play quite differently from one another. Each class also has 3 weapon types, and all of them can be upgraded multiple times over. For example, the Knight’s main attack shoots a sword straight forward, but the Archer’s main attack lobs 3 arrows that spread out and arc at different trajectories. There is also a Warrior and a Wizard class, and they too have very different attack types. Oh yeah, killing enemies and beating levels nets you points for scoring purposes, and coins for upgrading purposes. You can also earn some random bonuses after a level, with an extremely simplified equipment system offering up various necklaces or rings with different types of bonuses. It’s very basic, but it’s still a neat addition.
Retro Abyss’s main campaign has 15 levels, but with how differently each of the classes play, play through those 15 levels with each one feels like a pretty unique experience. It’s more like the game actually has 60 levels. The game is free to download with opt-in ads for extra chances at post-level bonuses, and the free portion also includes the Knight and Archer classes. A 99¢ IAP unlocks the full game which removes the opt-in ad stuff and unlocks the other two classes, the Warrior and Wizard. You also get a 50k coin bonus for going premium. Basically, you can have plenty of fun with the free portion of Retro Abyss, and at just a buck it’s kind of a no-brainer to unlock the full game if you enjoy what the free part has to offer. This is a really unique and fun game, and I haven’t even touched on how absolutely awesome its visuals or soundtrack are. I guess that’s all the more reason to download it for free and give it a spin for yourself.