Earth, 3024. The world’s natural resources have become scarce, plunging humanity to the brink of its very survival. In their desperation to discover new energy resources, governmental authorities construct a cyclopean, biomechanical robot called Nep2no that is capable of withstanding the extreme depths of the ocean. After many fruitless years of exploration an energy source is suddenly discovered, codenamed “Gaia,” and it, therefore, is your mission to collect such stones to save the human race.
Abyss first emerged from the murky depths in 2012 on Nintendo DSiWare, and now resurfaces on Wii U after EnjoyUp Games became an officially licensed developer for the console. Spruced up with remastered visuals and a remixed soundtrack, it can at least be said that this return appearance most certainly isn’t a half-hearted effort.
As with games of yore, Abyss has no tutorials and instead chooses to throw you in at the deep end. It’ll take time to learn the nuance of successfully controlling Nep2no, your early time with the game promising to see you helplessly colliding with your rocky surroundings. Before long you will get used to your vessel’s ability to counteract gravity, and you’ll more gracefully drift your way through the cavernous environments to search for Gaia. Take a knock and the robot will start flashing, take another and you’ll explode into smithereens.
You’ll begin with a choice between Mission Mode, in which you carefully navigate 12 underwater caverns to secure six Gaias, and 2-player Mode, that ignites your competitive spirit by pitting you against a friend to see who can wriggle their way across the finish line first, or whoever meets an untimely death beforehand soonest. One player uses the Wii U GamePad’s screen, whilst the other, armed with a Wii Remote, make their own progress on the TV. The result’s frantic, if not perhaps overly challenging for the average gamer.
Complete Mission Mode and you unlock Dark Mode, presenting more challenging missions where you are tasked with securing 8 Gaias, and Arcade Mode which tasks you with clocking up the quickest times. New modes aside, longevity will be found in repeating completed missions to improve your clear times. However, without any online integration, you’ll be looking to Miiverse for some friendly competition.
The underwater setting welcomes the game’s washed out colours, matching humanity’s plight with a palette that never approaches vibrancy. A light guides your way, gradually dimming as you feverishly search for the next Gaia that reignites it to life.
In Abyss we discover a notable experience that casts our minds back to the somewhat more brutal games of days gone by. That difficulty regrettably is also a barrier to entry and is quickly followed by a steep learning curve, meaning that frustration will plague your time spent in the darkened depths. If you can rise to the challenge then there’s still much to appreciate within EnjoyUp Games gloomy addition to the Nintendo eShop.