Made in Abyss: Binary Star Falling into Darkness - Review, the border between video game and anime

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Have you ever dreamed of arriving where the human eye never rested? To explore unknown and mysterious places, full of dangers as much as of objects with amazing properties? If that makes you tremble with enthusiasm, gather all your courage and dive into the depths of the Abyss!

Made in Abyss: Binary Star Falling Into Darkness, which we analyze today in review, is a 3D Action RPG developed by Spike Chunsoft for PS4, Nintendo Switch and Steam. Released on September 2, 2022, it is based on the namesake manga di Akihito Tsukushi, already adapted into an anime series by Kinema Citrus, and the same author also oversaw this rework. The game is divided into two parts: hello abyss, namely the "story mode”Which briefly follows the first part of the events of the original work, e Deep in Abyss, which only unlocks at the end of the previous mode, where you lead a character that can be characterized by the player in one unedited story.

As in every expedition we move in groups, the report of this singular exploration is the result of the collaboration and comparison between two examiners: Davide Longobardi, who paid more attention to the technical and mechanical issues of the game, e Sara Martinelli, which instead gave more weight to sifting through the details and differences between the adaptations. With this premise that unites two voices creating a single cohesive thought, the aim is to elaborate a careful analysis without underestimating every aspect of the project, starting from the video game and its characteristics, citing the original work up to where the fidelity to this umpteenth adaptation. 

A little study before leaving

The events of our report take place on a remote island, an unknown and mysterious place pierced by ahuge chasm renamed "the Abyss". Despite the dangers of an ancient and singular nature, more and more people have been conquered by the dream of making easy fortunes with the treasures hidden here: so, very soon, a city ​​on its edge, orth.

Among the various buildings in the city there is a orphanage, whose guests become Cave Riders, or Scouts of the Abyss: they are classified with a system of whistles which, through color, determines the depth within which they can descend, based on their abilities and psycho-physical preparation. In hello abyss we find again Riko, a XNUMX-year-old energetic and troublemaker, determined to leave the institution to clandestinely reach the bottom of the Abyss and look for her mother despite being only a red whistle (ie the lowest level among the Cave Raiders); there is to accompany it Reg, a sort of boyish-looking robot, which would seem to have come back from those meanders but which unfortunately has lost his memory.

La history and in itself it is told quite faithfully, although - probably for obvious reasons - in much drier way, lacking most of the background information that in the original story provides additional contextual pills, both about the characters and their culture linked to the chasm. The problem, however, begins to arise by shifting the gaze to the actual playful part: this mode, conceived practically as a long and obligatory tutorial not even so necessary, it presents in fact a gameplay stripped down to the bone it's a unique path from start to finish, with the aim of simplifying everything. The result, however, was only that of deprive him of much of the fun that the title can offer, amplifying the player's sense of frustration that can be tempted to give up all before looking at what could be called “the real game”.

Deep in Abyss instead it acts as a real one I continue to the previous mode, when he arrives at the orphanage another child determined to become a higher level Cave Raider, namely a white whistle. Together with his companions, including three other novice children, he must gain experience and prestige to reach the coveted bottom of the Abyss.

La variety of objectives, as well as the freedom in exploration, finally add a greater sense of breath to the gameplay, now more similar to that of a open world with survival mechanics. Although it is not devoid of defects, in fact, even the mere possibility of finding and reselling the different relics scattered between the different layers and that of filling the diary by observing each creature, gives the player the desire to discover what this world, albeit unscrupulous, reserves for every ravine. As for the plot instead, as already mentioned, this modality presents an exclusive story that goes hand in hand with and intertwines with the original one, including all the protagonists of Hello Abyss and many others featured in the series, as well as introducing a good number of new characters.

Visit a city on the edge of the world

For both modes, the game starts inorphanage. The building they were for model only the main rooms, it is practically devoid of environmental exploration, as it is not possible to interact with the objects present or with its architectural parts, much less walk the corridors; to move from one room to another, in fact, you have to use a textual list menu which opens every time you take an exit. In short, the purpose covered by these rooms is more than anything else that of host secondary characters, with whom you can talk and from whom you can possibly receive missions. 

In hello abyssUnfortunately, the general impression that derives from these choices is that of having environments created with the sole purpose of winking at the already fans of the series, as often and willingly the few rooms that can be visited are empty and useless; this without counting the desolation dictated by the absence of other children besides the main ones, even in the classroom cutscenes. Thankfully, this is mitigated in Deep in Abyss, although the number of rooms has even increased: this is because the need for continually return to the surface makes not only this kind of faster browsing and therefore comfortable in the long run, but the different ones rooms are somehow more experienced, thanks also to the increase of the characters present due to the new children introduced in the plot.

The city ​​of Orth, which can be reached by leaving the orphanage: ad each button in the list corresponds to a shop, made up of a static background, where the owner asks us what we need and, from time to time, talks to us. Initially, it negatively displaces the presence, for representative purposes, of the sole shop of Laffi, which mainly deals with food and spices; in the mode Deep in Abyss, on the other hand, the quantity of shops finally increases and becomes variegated, allowing us to buy different product categories typical of RPGs: in addition to food, we range from clothes to weapons, from objects to antidotes, up to the resale of relics. It also adds access to the Gilda, which provides a large number of secondary missions, thus enriching the experience even more.

I dialogues, made as a visual novel, are usually linear or at the most composed by the choice to proceed or delay; sporadically, however, it can also present a real one multiple choice: despite this, as often happens in games of the genre, the results appear to be very differentiated very little or nothing, to the point of making it a somewhat superfluous feature and that does not intrigue.

Mens sana in corpore sano

Il character that we are going to move, like any self-respecting Cave Raider, aims to explore the different areas of the Abyss, collect resources and relics and, of course, survive. As for it, at the top left of the screen we have three indicators: the health, which is reduced to every blow suffered or ruinous fall; there satiety, which decreases as you move and which, when it drops to a minimum, also clears your stamina until you eat; and the bunting, necessary for any physical action, whether it is dodging, climbing, running or attacking, and which fills up automatically. 

It should be borne in mind that if the stamina should dry up completely during an activity, such as sprinting or climbing, the character will lose any grip e it will freeze completely until he is refreshed: for this reason, the decision to make his own bar so far from the character, probably taken from soulslike games - with which it seems to share other characteristics - it could be seen as questionable as relatively uncomfortable, although you can get used to it.

Undoubtedly one must remember always keep an eye on it, especially in the escapes or in the most heated fights, not to risk standing still in the midst of enemy shots; after all, the signal of approaching its end, that is a spray of sweat droplets on the character's head, is devoid of sound indications and not evident enough to indicate the danger. A small parenthesis should also be dedicated to dodge: the attribution of this share to the same button as the ride appears somewhat unusual and not very natural, since, being an action based on the player's readiness, its activation by double pressing the button results in not very spontaneous.

Grow to face the pitfalls

If in Hello Abyss the evolution of the character is completely blocked, as well as the crafting reduced to very few elements, growth in the main game on the other hand, it takes place in several areas, the main ones being earn levels and the choice ofequipment. As is typical of games that host this system, i levels are earned throughacquisition of experience points; in this case, however, they they are not obtained by fighting, but through two methods: the first consists simply in complete missions, whether primary or secondary; the second is to devote oneself to resale of memorabilia collected in the Abyss, which give the more experience the higher their rarity. This makes for an interesting and consistent variation with the setting, as it causes that most battles are not necessary at all; In short, escaping from common enemies or avoiding confrontation with the most difficult ones is something that can be done without much remorse.

A fundamental purpose for which to raise one's level is certainly to obtain the skill points, needed to unlock the fruits of the three skill trees present: they serve both to increase the lists of the different ones creatable things, both to ensure characteristics that improve thescouting or skills in combat, such as the ability to consume food while hanging on the wall or to be able to create a combo of attacks. However, there are not many ability available from time to time, as they are divided according to the color of the whistle which changes only by completing the various story missions; and then devoid of other methods to invest the points acquired and at each level the increase of the statistics is somewhat skimped, making the farming not very profitable.

Passing by toequipment, a noticeable difference, especially in defensive and offensive stats, is provided by clothing and weapons. The variety of the paraphernalia is good, introducing ranged weapons oh what from melee, and altered statuses can also be added to the damage; however, they have one limited durability and a limited number of bullets, so you must always be able to have some spare… which is not always easy.

About the clothes, instead, they act as "armor" for our protagonist: there is a generous variety, added to the objects of the characters of the original series, and also offer spaces for wearing amulets of different types, in order to add various bonuses. It must be said, however, that the whole series of icons and labels associated with these artifacts is never explained; furthermore, it is not possible to take them off (for example to lighten when they are not considered necessary) but only to replace them, e it does not indicate what was associated with the individual garments not even during the equipping phase, making their replacement more difficult.

The edge of the underworld

From the beginning of our adventure, we discover that theAbyss, which extends mainly vertically, is divided into several layers according to depth ranges; in this adaptation, as well as in the original work, as one descends further down the environment becomes more inhospitable and the creatures exponentially more dangerous, similarly to Dante's hell. In the video game, each layer is rendered in a set of maps circumscribed that represent certain areas of the Abyss arranged at different heights, each hosting a specific habitat and a precise series of living species; a pleasant discovery is noting how much attention has been paid to ensuring that a large number of places present in the original work prove can be visited, adding even those that were only mentioned.

The transition from one area to another is done visually via bring them, which simply correspond to off-screen travel segments; for this reason, their use requires a cost in satiety and possibly also in health, and cannot be carried out in the absence of those requirements. Advancing with the game, and using the same system, you also unlock the possibility of fast travel between the layers, but in both cases it is a shame to see the absence of any type of animation that reinforces the idea of ​​the journey made.

The areas to be crossed, however, are often full of roughness, bumpy points and areas that can only be reached climbing bare hands o descending by ropes, which are essential - at least in the early stages of the game - as they are relatively easy to craft. In moving, therefore, we must be careful, not only not to end up in a fault or even on some trap, but also to move up, as this will involve the activation of the so-called "curse of the Abyss".

La curse it is one of the most peculiar characteristics introduced by the master Tsukushi in his work and, therefore, an essential element of this adaptation. To visually integrate it into the gameplay, the developers used two gimmicks: one purple frame around the screen and the counter color meters, which intensify as the effects are imminent. The only possible way to avoid them consequences it is to take breaks, avoiding climbing further until the indicators return to normal; if this does not happen, the character ends up suffering physical and mental illnesses that you do exponentially more violent depending on the layer in which you are, compromising both satiety and health. 

This system is undoubtedly particular, as it forces the player to move with caution and also with patience, and its final result is quite convincing; considering however that the effects they just manifest themselves after route about 10 meters uphill, you realize that The audible “alarm” tends to go off a little too soon, thus giving up part of its usefulness and being annoying.

A kingdom for ancestral creatures

In such an uncontaminated and ancient environment, the human being is not so welcome: so many creature they have adapted to his particular conditions of life, populating every nook and cranny, and there are many aggressive if not even lethal.

In the world recreated in this adaptation, broadly i enemies they are always visible in the game environment and each have an area of ​​interaction within which they will attack, as well as a rather rigid pattern of action; many of them though they do not notice our character if he moves crouched, regardless of its coverage. However, it must be specified that for some reason, whatever type of action we will try to do - be it gathering, eating or otherwise - the character will jump to his feet, immediately making yourself a target and obliterating some of the sense of stealth mechanics of the game.

Of the numerous creatures that infest the strata, i common enemies, which obviously are the most widespread and numerous, have the odious peculiarity of a rather quick respawn and the skill of literally appear out of nowhere, even next to the character, in previously cleared areasoften preventing them from even completing an action such as fishing, using an object, or observing with a monocle. The impression is that of wanting to prevent as much as possible to provide the player with points where to stop and refresh, or at least to want to push him to the massive use of smoke torches: probably in this perspective it may have its own reason, but it remains a extremely nerve-wracking feature, especially bearing in mind the issue of transportable weight.

For sure the game does not specialize in fighting, but a big limitation is undoubtedly that of not have a dedicated weapon slot: in addition to the annoyance of occasionally finding oneself with bare hands and having to manually re-equip our weapon, it can even become a problem if, for example, we are surrounded by a series of common enemies, as during the animation of the damage suffered you cannot open the tool wheel, depriving the player of the opportunity to counterattack. Furthermore, in the event that you want to change your defense tool during a fight, while optimizing the position of the equipment on the wheel, it continues to be a relatively woody action.

Finally, a parenthesis should also be opened with regard to of bosses, introduced by the plot, and mini-bosses, which are found scattered in the maps: they often have a quick time event which usually serves to dodge their attack and finish them off, but this system it is never introduced or announced in the game until you find an enemy at your heels in the first cutscenes, displacing the player who had no reason to expect it. 

Backpack on his shoulder and pickaxe in hand

By examining the system of crafting, with the exception of the first Hello Abyss game mode, almost everything that is in the shops can be created independently through the combination of certain materials, found in the Abyss, thus giving the player the opportunity to choose whether to start the descent with the equipment already provided or build it during the trip. Some components can only be recovered by defeating and skinning creatures, which is why it is not allowed to delay as the corpses blacken and, after a few seconds - which could also have been a little more - they simply vanish. Still others, like many spices, are obtained from plants, visible here and there on the ground; finally, some resources are obtained fromextraction with the pickaxe, in well-defined points by shimmering piles of rock that also house relics. All these activities, which are consistent with each other, guarantee the player greater freedom of action, managing to immerse him effortlessly in the role of the Explorer.

In the collection, however, there is one factor to which we must pay close attention, and that is the bag weight: every single piece of clothing, artifact or component, in fact, has its own weight expressed in grams which affects the carrying capacity of the character; once the maximum range value is exceeded, the character he will no longer be able to do anything, other than moving with maddening slowness and consuming food. Not keeping an eye on the current load while looking for climbing objects, for example, could easily result in a disastrous and often fatal fall; obviously, it is allowed at any time to discard something from the menu.

On the other hand, in case you don't want to give in to something to lighten yourself up, you can help with some objects that allow you to carry any weight; the problem unfortunately is that their very function is questioned by a careless design, as it leaves us perplexed about the actual continuous use of the same. Another flaw found in this system is that the current weight of the bag is available only from the items menu, despite its criticality: the capacity indicator could have been left in an empty part of the screen, thus simplifying the management of the problem. In any case, the presence of the trunk in the room of our protagonist, where, for example, we can store and stack the materials necessary for a more expensive crafting, without having to carry extra weight.

The beauty of a cruel world

Despite everything, the Abyss is undoubtedly a particular place full of charm, and it can be said that this adaptation has restored much of its beauty. Surely it must be admitted that, even if it successfully reproduces the apparently "tender" style of the original work, the graphics are not the best of the latest generation games, even bringing all the visual settings to the maximum; this must be considered above all in relation to the price of the product, which is part of a medium-high range. The aesthetic rendering of cel-shading, however, in itself is not bad, but in some places 3D modeling gives the impression of being somewhat coarse.

Furthermore, to make a comparison, one could say that the mood lights are missing typical of master Tsukushi's coloring as much as of anime adaptation, as well like the contour line for the characters, which could help give them more texture when viewed in the foreground. However, the fact remains that these choices are legitimate and that the result is in any case functional for this type of use: it seems that the idea was to provide, at least in this sense, a more realistic context to the characters, in any case cartoonish, or simply to increase the contrast between the relatively dark tones of the backgrounds with the greater lightness in the coloring of the characters. The work done on menus and iconsmeanwhile, it is clean and clear and it is very pleasant, even if it has not always been associated with the right care of those who, for example, had to apply any searchable descriptions, which sometimes are deficient.

In short, overall the transposition is sufficiently effective; decidedly positive results theattention to detail that they tried to place on the creatures and objects present in the original work, which are represented in the various menus by faithful and well-made designs. A parenthesis of merit goes to the exquisite splash screen, representing a detail of a particular scene that was excluded from this adaptation but that fans will certainly notice. 

In order to maintain the raw realism of the original material, the Game Over obtained by falling or against larger creatures there is aanimation dedicated to the gruesome death of the character; on the other hand, however, the same treatment was not reserved for creature that we will go to mangling, which they simply vanish, perhaps making the roughness of certain scenes more shocking but also unbalanced. Like the animals of the Abyss, the secondary characters that eventually accompany us in the missions, as, when their life bar runs out, they just disappear and then magically return, making their mortality useless.

Continuing in the context of the animations, the acting of the characters, although it is of an acceptable level, it is not always quite convincing, sometimes going to sin of naturalness and emphasis; to mitigate the problem, however, the skill and vocal interpretation of the original voice actors of the anime, present in both English and Japanese, accompanied by new entries in the cast who also offer a good performance. A small side note should be dedicated to the fact that, in animating the character of Riko, the developers have chosen to exclude an iconic feature concerning her tails which, however modest, in the original work gave her an additional acting peculiarity.

As for the audio sector, the music is unpublished and composed by a different musician compared to the anime adaptation, even if there would seem to be some references in the sonorities; despite this, it still results pleasant and quite varied, and, although there are several areas with the same track, it does its duty managing not to bore, although the transition from one to the other is not always achieved at its best. Much beautiful is the opening theme sung by the Japanese voice actresses of the three main protagonists of the original opera, who had already proved their singing skills in the anime theme songs.

On the other hand, there seems to be some problem with the choice of some environmental sounds, resulting definitely misrepresentable and therefore not very effective, and some sound indicators are missing during the game. Finally, the choice of introducing the log, or the transcription of the dialogues, considering the type of game, with a lot of possibility to listen to the dubbing; nice also the idea of ​​introducing micro-dialogues between the characters within the gameplay to make their interaction more credible, but they lack the corresponding subtitles and in the long run they are unnerving, as they are the same sentences repeated over and over.

A binary system attracted to the dark chasm

During the hours we have dedicated to analyzing most of the essential aspects of this work and to discuss its strengths and weaknesses, the most confident part of us has suffered from the missed opportunity represented by this game. The ideas were good, undoubtedly, and there smooth writing and enjoyable; also love for the original work, which shines through in the quotes and in the details, and the effort to provide one good variety of mechanics and components, they are positive building blocks on which to build great game architecture.

Yet, even leaving out the presence of bugs, there are really many things that leave a bad taste in the mouth: the impression is almost that of witnessing a project that has not yet been refined, a beginning that suggests the desired destination but unfortunately does not correspond to the result achieved. For these reasons, probably, the game proposal is not worth the purchase money, at least at full price, all the more if we consider that on the market it is faced with securities with possible similarities but which are clearly superior in quality. A few more tricks, such as making the choice of modality free or, better still, unifying both in a single full-bodied story of two parallel events, undoubtedly they could have greatly reduced the effects of that frustration, which does not allow you to fully enjoy an experience that in total could offer more, although it can still be fun to play.

In short, leaving alive the hope that in the future a new improved version of the seed planted here may see the light, we reluctantly emerge slowly from that dark and at the same time wonderful world that is the Abyss.

  • Made in Abyss: Binary Star Falling into Darkness (Provato su PC)5.5Voto Finale

    Made in Abyss: Binary Star Falling into Darkness certainly manages to make a rather faithful transposition, both narratively and visually, of the main characteristics of the work from which it draws; what is not convincing lies more in its videogame aspects, as in almost all its features it is cumbersome, frustrating and not very intuitive, as if it totally lacked the necessary precautions that surely would have made it an already more enjoyable experience, although far from the perfection.

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