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  From The Abyss
November 29, 2008 at 3:03 am

Dungeon Crawler Hack&Slash RPG games are starting to become a regular genre on the Nintendo DS, so does Aksys Games' set itself apart with From The Abyss? Unfortunately the game doesn't do much to stand out amongst its peers, but it is still a fun time for J-RPG fans. From The Abyss takes place in Rubenhaut where the kingdom has been overrun by monsters flowing through the Abyss Gate. You choose your hero from four possible choices, two male and two female, and then answer a short series of questions to give your character a sense of background. You arrive in Rubenhaut and meet with the queen, whom enlists your help to rid the land of monsters, and thus your journey to free the kingdom begins.

This is your standard hack & slash J-RPG, and plays out a lot like the classic SNES title, Secret Of Mana. For new gamers to the genre, it is an easy game to pick up and play in the beginning areas and stages. As you proceed further into the game, the difficulty level increases and level grinding is a must. You use the A button to attack your enemies, and the X, Y, and B buttons are reserved for skills you acquire in game. You begin the game with the Soul Capture skill with which you use to steal more skills from enemies you encounter throughout the game. As you level up in the game, you will allocate Status Points to various stats, so your character grows as you see fit. The touch screen is utilized for selecting items and skills, as well as viewing your map of each stage, and viewing/allocating stats.

The story of From The Abyss is a very basic story, and has no real character development. When not traversing stages in the Abyss Gate, you don't actually walk around Rubenhaut, but are using a menu system to Save, buy items and talk to characters. This is where Abyss lacks the most, as the characters you interact with tend to be annoying and never generate any connection within the game. The localization feels dumbed down and often just seems to be trying way too hard to create each character's personality.

The graphics vary depending on what you are doing within the game. While going through town and meeting characters, it is nothing more than drawings of each character, changing expressions as you converse with them. The drawings themselves are basic anime inspired drawings, and lack any depth or detail to really grab your attention. On the other hand, during stages and combat, the design and look is right out of the SNES era of J-RPGs. This is in no way a bad thing, and it looks and moves very fluid and smoothly. It replicates the style of the 16 Bit Mana games to perfection, and will please any fans from that period of gaming. The soundtrack to the game is nothing outside of your typical J-RPG fare, but it does manage to do a good job setting the tone for each dungeon.

While the gameplay can be very monotonous with constant level grinding and the fact you lose everything you've gained within a stage should you die, this is still a solid Dungeon Crawler Hack & Slash. Whether you are a fan of the genre, or of the classic SNES action RPGs, From The Abyss will provide you with a fun and enjoyable experience on your DS.

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