Just like Oniken, Digerati and Joymasher released Odallus: The Dark Call, a new 8-bit NES style action platformer with some light RPG elements. Playing similarly to Castlevania 3, players take control of a father looking to take revenge with a big sword and several sub weapons. Luckily, Odallus is not as difficult as Oniken so players will be less prone to breaking controllers in anger.
The main gimmick to this 2D side-scroller are the branching paths found in each stage. This not only encourages multiple playthroughs, it gives the player worthwhile incentive to search high and low for alternative paths and secrets. A map screen is thoughtfully designed by giving players the ability to instantly travel between stages while equipping optional loadouts. Like Zelda II, there are also collectables and upgrades to be found and purchased which provides just enough RPG mechanics to keep gameplay interesting throughout.
Although Odallus does many things correctly, there are a couple features that ultimately hold back the entire experience. First, neither button layout is comfortable or intuitive as the player has to choose to either jump with B and attack with Y or jump with A and attack with Y. Why can’t the buttons be remapped, or defaulted to the industry standard adopted decades ago, in which A and B are used to attack and jump (or A and X for an Xbox controller)? Second is the counterproductive ledge grabbing mechanic. Here, the player will automatically grab a ledge but will fumble on the edge until a very specific button combination is performed. Instead of just pushing up on the dpad, the player must first grab the ledge, push forward, then flick the stick up, sort of like a quarter circle Ryu fireball. Not only does this take a while to understand and never feels right, it becomes an issue when some platforming must be done quickly. There are also some sections of stages, like traversing in water, that is usually more awkward than entertaining.
It only takes a handful of hours to reach the end, thanks to a generous checkpoint and item-buying system that makes it easier on the player, but is an entertaining romp geared towards original NES players. Even though this is a new game (originally released in 2015) for Xbox One owners, Odallus pulls on the nostalgia strings pretty hard as it looks, sounds, and plays exactly like an unreleased original 8-bit NES game. It has its share of flaws but The Dark Call is a Castlevania 3 clone fans should enjoy.
Not As Good As: Shatterhand (NES)
Also Try: Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan (Switch)
Don’t Forget About: Kabuki Quantum Fighter or the Powerblade games (NES)