So late last week Sony announced the games that would be available for free to Playstation Plus subscribers. Two of these games, both available on PS4, were CounterSPY and Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey New ‘N Tasty. I had never heard of CounterSPY before but I was willing to give it a shot. I’m trying to be more open to indie games and for the low low price of free what could it hurt. The other game I had heard of, and had been considering buying before it became free.
This game is not exactly easy to describe. It is basically a 2D platformer game, with some 3D elements. As you are playing you can make your character go in to cover which shifts the camera angle so that you are viewing the room in a 3D space. The controls are pretty basic, which makes it easy to pick up and play quickly. The graphics may not be to everyone’s tastes, but they weren’t terrible.
You play as a spy working for C.O.U.N.T.E.R during the Cold War and are trying to prevent both the United States and the (then) USSR from launching nuclear warheads at the moon. After every mission you decide which side to try to steal plans from. Each has their own ambient music, and color pallets. The US bases are based around blue uniforms, while the USSR side is based on red ones. This really is the only difference between the levels.
The basic structure of the levels is that you progress through each room in the base looking for the plans for the launch sites. While doing that you also can find weapons schematics, formulas to enhance your character, dossier’s which give background story or intel that is just used for getting money to buy weapons or formulas.
The levels are supposed to be randomly generated, providing a different playthrough each time. And they are, mostly. There is a finite number of room layouts that the game chooses from and puts in a mostly random order, populating with a semi random number of soldiers or cameras. After a while you start to learn what to expect in a room just from the limited number of room types. For example, anytime that you come across a room that has an elevator leading down, you can assume that if you go down you will have one room that is a shooting gallery, and that you’ll probably die. The longer I played the more I tended to just avoid these rooms, which I’ll explain in a second.
The main objective in each level is to get all the plans you can find, leading up to the final mission. You have to collect a total of 20 or 25 plans to get there, so you can play as many or as few missions as you’d like. You can also continue playing missions after you have unlocked the final one if you choose to do so. Each side has a DEFCON level that is raised (think golf scores here) whenever you die, or if a guard or camera detects you for too long. If you get to go below DEFCON 1 you have one minute to get to the end of the level or your game ends and you have to continue. Shooting gallery levels get really annoying for this on higher difficulty levels. The highest you can get is DEFCON 5, and that number lowers as the level goes up. You can buy formulas to lower this when the level starts, and you will do this frequently if you suck at this game like I did.
The game itself is short. I think I beat it in 2 hours or so the first time, and less than that when I had a better feel for it. The enemies get a bit cheap later in the game, and more so on higher difficulties. You die very quickly which causes the DEFCON level to rise. Playing through Advanced difficulty I found myself quitting a level because I had died too much. I didn’t even try playing on Expert.
I would absolutely recommend playing through it at least once. It’s a short game and not frustratingly challenging for the most part. Not until higher difficulty settings at least. I even have a gameplay video to share this time:
Oddworld: Abe’s Odysee, New ‘N Tasty
So this game was originally for the original Playstation (the PS1 as the kids call it today). I never played it when it was new, and honestly I didn’t really spend a lot of time with it this time around either. It was given and HD remake, using the Unity engine but otherwise left alone. Same level desings, and presumably the same controls.
The thing about this game is that the controls are frustratingly complicated and can be unresponsive. The game itself is a fairly straightforward 2D platformer, but with bad controls it gets annoying. I died repeatedly due to buttons not registering, or mechanics that don’t initally make sense. For example, early in level one you come across a landmine on the floor. Since this is the tutorial level it explains that you need to crouch and the press a button when the light “blinks green” to disarm it. I’m going to say right now, it took WAY too long to actually accomplish that. It blinks for barely enough time to register and your timing has to be spot on.
Overall I just found this game to not be for me. I didn’t make it past the second level before being so frustrated at it that I gave it up. I’m very glad I did not spend the money purchasing this game, but if I had I would have at least finished. I do think that the selling price of $30 on PSN is a bit steep. So if you want to play it and you have a Playstation Plus membership, now would be the time to try it.