Posted by Retrokaiser On Thursday, February 26, 2015 0 comments
"The Next Penelope - Race to Odysseus" is a futuristic driving adventure game for the PC. This game starts off with chaos as there is disorder between the people of Ithaca and Poseidon as Poseidon wants the ship, Odysseus. Sadly Odysseus has been missing for such a long time and now it is up to Ithaca's beautiful (but beaten) leader, Penelope. Penelope must now take off in her spaceship so that she can search the galaxy for the missing Odysseus and put a rest to this chaos. Penelope has a very tough task ahead as it's not as simple as flying through space as she also has to explore planets that each have their own tasks whether it'd be racing, battling monsters, or even collecting as this isn't your typical driving game. (Click "Read More" to read the full review).
The story in this game is a futuristic re-telling of a classic tale Odyssey and putting it in a futuristic setting worked and made for a decent adaptation of the story. While the story is good I didn't find myself getting into it as much as I should've done as it also felt very minor. What didn't feel minor and was more interesting was the gameplay as this game is played like a top-down/bird-eye view racing game like "Super Sprint (1986)" mixed in with the high speed of "F-Zero (1990)".
Your goal is to travel across the galaxy and clear planets that are each made up of three stages and once you've beaten those planets you'll get a new upgrade for your ship and they will come in handy in future levels. For a game that seems like a simple racing game you'll find that there's some nice variety as each level is made up of three different styles of game. The first stage is an endurance round that has you testing out a new upgrade, second stage is the racing stage where your goal is to simply finish the race in first place, third stage is a boss battle.
Difficulty in this game depends on what order you choose to play each level in, just think of this game as playing though "Megaman (1987)" (I sure like to mention Megaman a lot in my reviews) as playing though the game in a certain order makes the game easier due to having the most helpful equipment. Each stage is also marked with a difficulty rating so it isn't hard to decipher which level you should play first. This freedom of choosing levels also gives the game some nice replay value as you'll want to challenge yourself by picking an unorthodox path on a future session. You also earn credits from beating a level and you use those to upgrade parts of your ship for a much better performance and upgrading ship parts will help gain new abilities that are helpful. This game is also fairly short and can be beaten a few times in a single day but it is a fun game to replay.
There is a fourth style of gameplay style that appears somewhere in the game (not saying where) that changes the game from a racing style game into a space shooter game much like "R-Type (1987)" and it played very awesomely. This game does have a warning screen saying this game plays best with a USB controller but this game plays really good with your standard keyboard as all the buttons are in a comfortable position. Speaking of controls as the controls are very simple as you drive automatically and steer with the left and right arrow keys. The weapons can be used by pressing S, D, F, Down Key, and Right Shift but those keys are only used for certain weapons and you can only use them when you have those certain weapons. You can also boost by pressing up on the arrow keys but be warned as every time you use a weapon or boost you'll use up a part of your energy bar, not just that as your energy bar will also go down if you are hit by an enemy or crash into a wall and when you are out... You are out.
Graphics in this game have an old school look as it has a style that resembles Super Nintendo games that used the Super FX chip like "Star Fox/Star Wing (1993)" but mixed in with the Mode 7 chip like "F-Zero (1990)" but with a cleaner resolution. This style looked pretty cool and good and compliments the futuristic styling of this game. Another thing that compliments the style is the very awesome character art as it has an 1980's/1990's anime style that takes me back to the day of watching anime every morning. The coloring of the characters are very strong and I can say the same about the other graphics too and it is very, very clean to where you'll have no problem making things out. Music and sound do work well with the futuristic theme but they aren't something you'll go rushing out to buy a soundtrack of but they get the job done.
This game is currently in the Early Access section of Steam and so this game is still being worked on. Should you be scared that this game is still being worked on? Not at all as the core of the game is complete. From what I see it is only multiplayer and bonus stages that are still being worked on but other than that this is a fully functional game and feels complete even without those bonus stages. UPDATE: As of March 5th, 2014 the bonus stages are now available to play.
This game being in Early Access does mean that you will find some bugs and glitches that will be ironed out in the future and I was fortunate to only find one. One bug I had was in one of the racing stages and I came in at second place and when the losing screen showed up the game sent me to the next level anyway and treated the loss as a victory. I don't know if I should consider that a good thing or a bad thing but hey it helped me out.
Overall this is a really fun game and is one of the more unique space driving games I have played. Don't worry about this being an Early Access title as this game is worth playing even now and I do recommend it. Fun space game.
Game: The Next Penelope - Race to Odysseus
Developer: Aurelien Regard
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Genre: Action, Adventure, Racing, Schmup
Price: $9.99 (Steam)