The biblical story of David and Goliath, along with Moby Dick by Author Herman Melville share the common theme of one small man battling a massive beast, in a battle of dominance, survival, and righteousness. In these stories, the viewer is left to witness the sheer test of a mortal being, standing up against nearly impossible odds. Through constant battle, wits, intellect, and sheer emotion drive the challenged to defeat the challenger, with incredibly satisfying results. This is the theme brought to us by the studio, Black Sea Odyssey LLC, and their game, Black Sea Odyssey, which is fitting that one of their first games is named after the Company.
In Black Sea Odyssey, players take to the black gulfs of outer space. The cosmos, in all their beauty and ferocious danger, are your oceans to chart. Out there are deadly, dangerous, horrific creatures, that can swallow ships of men whole and spit out their bones. They come in a variety of terrifying shapes and forms, each with a look that can rattle the hearts of even the hardiest of men. Your job, as a hunter on these endless star oceans, is to hunt down these massive beasts, defeat them, and reap the rewards.
I had some time to play Black Sea Odyssey at PAX SOUTH while learning more about the game while playing. The developers gained many inspirations from pirate lore, but most particularly for the beautifully horrific visuals of HP Lovecraft. However, Moby Dick plays a massive source of inspiration as the classic literature work specifically has the rage of a captain battling a massive beast in the heart of the sea, while taking his bewildered crew into danger, far stunned in the depths of fear.
In Black Sea Odyssey, players are pirates, armed with harpoons and spears. There are no ray guns, tractor beams, or other modern sci-fi equipment. This definitely changed up the formula traditionally seen in other games of this nature. While players may not encounter real-life fear, as it is only a video game, players can be expected to handle a big challenge, as well as to use their wits, as the game is quite intimidating! Players will encounter all sorts of vile creatures are dangerous. However, slaying them yields bounty, which will be needed to upgrade your equipment’s and weapons.
My first attempt, I was hunting a kind of squid-like creature. I hunted him down, though the level layout was very vast. I had to specifically go into dangerous areas to shoot the nasty one down. Using the radar in the lower-right hand corner, I was able to follow a large blip, presumably my prey. I did encounter smaller targets, and naturally, I was forced to engage.
I had two weapons. One was the spear, which has unlimited ammo and can do slight but significant damage over time. The other was a harpoon. Most of the creatures in Black Sea Odyssey have protruding limbs, such as legs and tongues. If players weaken a certain area, they can utilize a harpoon. From that point, players can weaken that particular area with the spear, then use the harpoon to rip off that limb in a blood-soaked satisfying fashion. Not only does this weaken your prey, but it also gives you a fighting chance to defeat your target, which is critical for taking down prized beasts.
I inevitably came up to my prize, a foul-looking squid-like creature. He was massive, fast, and strong. As this was my first big target, I knew I would struggle, but the beast gave me a major fight. I managed to weaken some parts of the beast, but I, unfortunately, was slain, with my body obliterated to scatter amongst the cosmos.
However, my demo didn’t end there. I was willing to give the game another go, and look for a more manageable target. I later learned that the Black Sea Odyssey is also a rogue-like game, with level assets and enemy placements changing with each play through. Therefore, hunting my new target took slightly longer than my previous attempt. This time, I was hunting in some space swamp, with many space toads interfering with my hunt for big game. I once again used spears and harpoons to hunt down the smaller creatures and search for some crates of treasure. Suddenly, my entire mission changed.
From the black depths of space emerged a massive, foul looking space toad, with massive limbs, a repulsive tongue, and three bulbous heads. Once again, this beast gave me a fight. The tongue was toxic, and this creature was reproducing smaller toads to decimate and slaughter me as a delicious meal. But damn the beast, as I was determined to win and claim my prize. As the game is a twin-stick, I continuously maneuvered around my prey, constantly shooting spears in an attempt to defeat the toad. While the toad was amphibious, it had a thick hide. However, was dong damage on one of the three heads. Using my harpoon, I tried to rip off a leg, in an attempt to slow the maneuverability of the toads, but he was simply too strong.
The more I played, the more the Black Sea Odyssey team cheered me on. I was in a fight for my virtual life, it felt like, in that moment, I was truly feeling the game and its thrills. Like Captain Ahab or David and Goliath, here I was, lost in the black gulfs of space, hunting this massive, wretched beast, for honor and the moral victory of humanity.
Eventually, I harpooned the middle head of this beast. As he squirmed, I continuously launched spears into the head of the toad. It weakened, and with a satisfying push of a button, I ripped the head off this beast, dealing it a mortal blow and witnessed its fluids spray across space. The development team cheered me on as I made this feat. The rest of the battle was still a challenge, but I still managed to slay the beast earning a massive prize. With a satisfying conclusion, my time with Black Sea Odyssey was concluded.
Based on my preview, my time with Black Sea Odyssey was fantastic. This was a new game I hadn’t heard of before, but I came out of it incredibly satisfied, and perhaps, eager to return to. I do want to learn the skills and gain new equipment to take down that first foul beast that slew me. Black Sea Odyssey is shaping to be a great game, and a worthy addition to those who enjoy twin-stick rogue-likes, as well as hunting massive beasts in the spirit of Shadow of the Colossus.
Black Sea Odyssey is available now on Steam, with an arrival on consoles sometime this year. You can check out our interview with the Development team from PAX South in the video below!