Odallus: The Dark Call (Demo)

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Joymasher for PC, originally released in 2015.
This is article is based on a 2013 demo build of Odallus: The Dark Call. The game has now been released, and our full coverage is here.

The demo build was released to illustrate the primary gameplay mechanics and to give players an idea of what to expect in the final game. The demo level includes a mixture of elements from throughout the game and is not itself included in the final product.

Odallus fits comfortably into the metroidvania genre, featuring action with a deliberate pace, a focus on exploration, and ability-enhancing powerups as the primary means of progression. You begin your adventure equipped with a sword that allows you to slash while standing, running, jumping, or ducking. In addition to the usual slaughtering of thine enemies, it can be used to destroy blocks and incoming projectiles. You also have a variable height 2x jump, a ledge grab, and the ability to push medium-sized blocks.

A number of secondary projectile weapons are available as well, which can be gained by opening treasure chests. These include a torch, an axe, and a spear. Secondary weapons have a limited number of uses, and a maximum number that can be carried at any given time, although your maximum allotment can be upgraded by finding larger weapon bags. As in the traditional 8-bit Castlevania titles, secondary weapons are used by pressing UP and ATTACK rather than being assigned to their own button.

The torch is tossed in a low arc and sends a flame rolling across the ground, damaging ground-based enemies. The Axe flies horizontally across the screen in a straight line. It is weak but allows you to hit enemies at a distance and to hit multiple enemies in succession. The spear flies in a high arc, moving upward at an angle, then horizontally, and then at a downward angle, before falling straight down. This peculiar movement gives you a fairly short range but allows you to use a well-aimed toss to attack enemies above and below you, as well as break through destructible blocks on the ground.

Other pickups include 1UPs tucked away in the environment, keys needed for certain doors, and orbs that are dropped by enemies in various denominations (denoted by their color). Orbs are used as currency and can be spent in shops for health restoratives, 1UPs, and replenishment of secondary weapons. You can grind for orbs as well, as some weaker enemies respawn infinitely, and others will respawn when you leave the screen and return.

As you play, you can slowly strengthen your character by finding new swords (the sword in the demo allows for faster attacks), more powerful armor, and a larger health meter. Entirely new abilities can be gained as well, allowing you to reach new areas to locate secrets and progress further through the adventure. These powerups include a double jump, the ability to push heavy blocks, and the ability to breathe underwater. In a nice touch, the torch weapon has no effect in underwater areas.

The demo ends on a somewhat tough boss, which has several different attacks at its disposal. This hideous creature is a large multi-segmented beast whose lair is an ice cave. It can toss energy along the ground, blast out ice breath which freezes you, and breathe upward to create stalactites along the ceiling that will wiggle and fall. It will also occasionally charge forward to attack you directly. While dodging these various attacks, you must smash the boss in the face with whatever weapons you have at your disposal. Weakening it will cause it to drop to the ground and open its mouth, extending a tongue with a demon lady stuck on the end of it. Attacking the tongue-maiden is the only way to defeat the creature, so you must hit it as many times as possible before it retracts and the cycle begins anew.

As with Oniken, the studio has used a limited color palette to create a game that has the look of something that could have been produced in the 8-bit era, although free from the other limitations such as slowdown and flicker. The game has a dark atmosphere inspired by the likes of Castlevania, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, and Demon’s Crest, featuring demonic enemies and undead creatures with background elements that include hanging skeletons, piles of skulls, and other macabre artwork. The game also features a retro-style soundtrack created by N-FREQ.

Odallus: The Dark Call is under development by Brazilian studio Joymasher, which was founded in 2012 by Danilo Dias, Thais Weiller, and Marco Galvão. The studio is most known for their retro action game Oniken which mixes elements of classic 8-bit action games like Contra and Ninja Gaiden. The studio has also created a number of freeware games, including MRC6-454, Major Maox, and Sigurdr's Havoc.