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Not so much an operatic comedy as a comedy set in an opera house.

Well "The Abyssal of the Opera" was a cute little surprise. When I put the call out for short little games to play and critique this wasnt exactly the sort of experience I was expecting. After putting in a couple hours and seeing the ending unfold I can easily say I had a pretty good time, but I think what I was personally hoping for from the games future and what the creators want to do with it are quite different, so I guess thats whats im largely going to be talking about here.

I didnt know much about the game going in outside of that it was made for the Tim Tam Slam Jam. I certainly didnt expect a narrative about a quest to save a singer from a portal to some kind of abyss. Its an incredibly goofy premise, and super fresh to boot. The opening interactive cutscene that ends with a fun fake out really sells the light hearted humor. It never really deviates from that fluffy tone with the NPCs either, with hidden jokes and funny little interactions hidden everywhere.

The games visuals were nice, with everything from a cute illustrated opening cutscene/slideshow to clean tile work and appropriate NPC designs once your in game (though a few custom sprite work elements dont blend in with the rest of the games visuals as well as they perhaps could). In particular I really appreciated the efforts made with the UI and text boxes which all include little curtains to really sell that Theater theme. Unfortunately I did notice that the curtains cut off some text on particular screens, mainly the name entry, and I also found that the curtains over the portraits made them feel a little claustrophobic. Im also not a big fan of the dithering effect used on the menus as opposed to regular transparency, it could just be a personal thing but I find it makes them look rather busy despite the large amount of available screen real estate.

Something I did really love was the Opera Theater itself. Being set in a single location meant that you really got to know your way around it. There werent that many areas to explore but you do find yourself going back to them multiple times for different reasons, the maps themselves arent big enough to make backtracking an issue at all. The game requires you to find a few key items and thankfully they are all clearly telegraphed on the maps as well with animated arrows. All of it feels cohesive, and I dont really have anything negative to say about that aspect of the game (other than maybe the main theater room being a tiny bit too wide and long but its a hell of a nitpick).

Gameplay wise the game is a relatively strait forward turn based RPG. It has some interesting ideas such as learning skills by using certain weapons for a set period of time, but the games too short with too small an enemy roster to really flesh those mechanics out in a meaningful way. Enemies despawn once defeated (and respawn in a more powerful form after a certain story moment) which is always appreciated, and if you feel the need to grind (as I did for the final boss which isnt so much hard as it is a tedious endurance test after his first two phases) you also have the option to grind in certain areas. Something that did dissapoint me was the fact the enemie battlers werent really tied to the games opera theme, I was hoping to fight crazy monster opera singers or twisted stage hands but instead we have rather typical RPG mobs that dont visually match the games pixelated visuals or fit the games thematic setting (though credit where credit is due they were given names to try to tie them to the theme). The battles themselves do take place on a theater stage though which is something I always get a kick out of.

So yeah... in the end I had a pretty good time. I can recommend the available demo quite easily, its a really nice proof of concept... but heres where things get weird.

As it was wrapping up I imagined a fleshed out version where the Opera Theater has a dark mirror version of itself through the Abyss portal, one with puzzles that require you to jump back and forth between the two in order to unlock new rooms and gear. Almost like a mix between the first Resident Evil and A Link To The Past. A game focused on a single environment that slowly opens up. I largely put that down to the fact for me the setting itself, the wonderful Opera House was the star of the game. The potential for it to be a really unique metroidvania style puzzle box RPG, man it got my imagination racing. Now that I have sat down to write my review I can see that the full game is planned to follow a more typical RPG format with dungeons. This isnt a bad thing at all, just not what I was hoping or expecting based on this demo... I guess I got a little too excited and started projecting... So I think I can honestly say while the full game isnt something I am currently excited about I did have a great time with this little demo and I think everyone who was involved has done a great job so cudos to you all and good luck with the rest of the game!