Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the sixth series, episode 3 of 13.

Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly dive head first into Spirits Abyss (caiys, 2020) which is like Spelunky which means death and nothing but death. Welcome to the video of death. AND BATS.

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5 thoughts on “Side by Side: Spirits Abyss

  1. This game reminds me of so many games from my youth. Those ones were typically single-player and I recall even then thinking what a great addition co-op or other game modes might be.

    It’s nice to see games like this coming along, with fantastic pixel art, lots of depth and a sense of mystery. As you both remarked it feels like there’s a lot to discover in Spirits Abyss, not only in the sense of unusual encounters and purchasable items, but in terms of sheer mastery as well. Hours could sink into this game pretty easily!

    The onscreen text was strange in a way I found difficult to put my finger on. Do we get the sense that it’s intentionally odd in structure, or is this a machine translation/not native language type of situation? Either way it actually enhances the sense of mystery and the need to figure things out for yourself, draw your own conclusions. Great find!

  2. I could be wrong but I feel like the quirky language is intentionally odd. I added something in my post on Tap that I think illustrates that weird style.

    I do find clunky English in games quite distracting these days though. Gunfire Reborn is one of the worst and that’s got a (rubbish) story and quite involved weapon/ability synergies that take some understanding even when you know what the sometimes wordy tooltips are trying to say!

    But yeah, Spirits Abyss feels like it has a lot of secrets to discover. It’s one I’ve still got installed because I want to dive into it solo.

  3. “But for snuglies it hankers a stoking” is a phrase I hereby commit to adding to my personal lexicon.

    Clunky language can be a memorable treat or a curse, I suppose. Pathologic 2005 was machine translated and even figuring out what you were supposed to do was a challenge, though the actual prose was in many cases Deadwood-level baroque. Dyson Sphere Program (a more recent machine translation victim) does not manage that level of poetry, but instead comes off like stereo instructions from the 1980s, read aloud by a quaalude-addled children’s book narrator.

    “For to accomplish glory of stacking water, ensure achievement of purposeful container. Have warning! Should crating assembly be inverted all attached will become devastated.” –not actually a quote from the game, but anyone who’s played would only have to hear that aloud and they’d know what I mean

  4. Yeah, that’s gold!

    I don’t play many games that have much fun with their language like that unfortunately. The Caves of Qud trailer is just hypnotic to me, but that could just be the narrator as well 🙂 Oh, Tenderfoot Tactics has some strange language that I loved like ‘fresh pluckled mushies and oily pasties’. Thief’s texts book-ending each mission were evocative and creepy. Darkest Dungeon is delicious and delivered beautifully by the narrator too.

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