You Should Play: Abyss Attack

abyssattack4

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Abyss Attack is a vertical-scrolling arcade shooter (that’s sort of like Temple Run, but with guns, you young punks). In Abyss Attack, you control a steampunk-inspired submarine traveling through an underwater abyss full of whimsical, neon-colored, and decidedly deadly creatures that explode into a flurry of sparkly gemstones when hit.

Gameplay is simple. Like endless-runner games, the goal in Abyss Attack is to travel as far as you can without dying. Your sub shoots a constant stream of bullets, and all you have to do is move your ship around with your finger to destroy creatures, avoid obstacles, and collect gemstones, power-ups, and relic pieces. It’s awesome for three other reasons:

abyssattack5

Get your submarine as far as you can while dodging obstacles. Like these underwater fireballs. Because that makes sense. 

Ultra-smooth gameplay: Abyss Attack’s controls are intuitive and easy to use; tap your submarine and drag it to move it up, down, left, and right. If you’d prefer not to tap and drag, you can use the game’s tilt controls to angle your way through the abyss—though I found the tilt controls to be less accurate, and therefore dangerous for later levels. Abyss Attack starts out relatively easy but gets difficult quickly, as obstacles like flaming balls of fire (how these exist in the ocean, I’m not sure) pop up and creatures start attacking from all angles. Although the game is technically endless, there are boss levels at regular intervals—bosses are larger, tougher creatures that pause your forward momentum and force you to face off.

One of the most pleasing aspects of Abyss Attack is its ultra-smooth gameplay. The tap-and-drag method plays out without a hitch, and everything—from how quickly you can move your submarine out of harm’s way to how fast and fluidly bullets flow from your ship’s guns—flows incredibly well. Although the game does take up a decent amount of resources (expect a significant battery drop if you play for an hour or two), it certainly doesn’t look like it’s working as hard as it is.

abyssattack7

Stages include boss levels at regular intervals to keep things interesting. 

Something for everyone: Sure, the main goal of Abyss Attack is pretty straightforward: Get as far as you possibly can without dying. But if that was the only goal it would be pretty darn boring (I’m looking at you, Flappy Bird), and Abyss Attack is anything but boring.

Alongside the main goal, Abyss Attack features side-quests (missions), submarine and weapon upgrades, and boosts in the form of relics. Completing missions helps you increase your rank (there are 15 ranks in total), and missions run the gamut from simple (travel a certain distance, for example) to more complex, such as using a certain type of super-weapon on a specific boss. As you kill creatures, you’ll collect gemstones, which is the game’s only form of currency. Gemstones can be traded for weapons upgrades, bonus upgrades, super-weapons, and new submarines. You’ll also collect relic pieces, which you can trade in for relics, which are boosts that you can equip for your adventure. Ten relic pieces beget one relic, and relics are formed at random—“rare” and “epic” relics offer better boosts.

abyssattack1

Abyss Attack's atmosphere is just as wonderful as its game mechanics. 

As you upgrade your equipment, equip relics and super-weapons, and work to complete missions, you’ll find that Abyss Attack becomes more and more interesting each time you play. Sure, you’ll eventually hit a plateau, but Abyss Attack does a great job of keeping your attention even after the newness wears off.

Atmosphere is everything: Arcade shooters are fun no matter what they look and sound like, so long as the gameplay mechanics are there. I have just as much fun playing Galaga as I do newer, sexier games. Graphics and sound may not be my number one priority, but Abyss Attack’s gorgeous, surreal atmosphere certainly helps. This is by far one of the prettiest games I’ve seen, and what’s even better is that the graphics don’t get in the way: Gameplay is ultra smooth and fluid, so you’re definitely not sacrificing speed for sexy. The creatures in the abyss are high-def, pulsating whirls of light, and the abyss itself—from the rocks to the corals to the non-threatening plants—features a ridiculous level of detail.

Your sub is retro-cool with its steampunk casing, and of course the game has multiple upgrades (including different subs and lights) that you can purchase with your collected gemstones. The whole game is a breathtaking neon wonderland, topped off with a seductive soundtrack. Even if you’re not into shooters, you should take a look at this game purely for the visuals.

Developer: Deep Byte Studios and Chillingo
Platform: iOS (Universal), Android (Universal)
Price: Free

This story, "You Should Play: Abyss Attack" was originally published by TechHive.

To comment on this article and other Macworld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.