ABRACA – Imagic Games (PC)

Abraca01French developer Ankma Games are the minds behind MMORPG adventures Wakfu and Dofus, games that are built around immersive narratives and boasting their own standout visual aesthetic. Their latest title though is a small, party title focusing around a fairy tale kingdom in which a strange cast of Princes and Princesses race and fight in one very wacky competition. ABRACA – Imagic Games is primarily a local multiplayer experience, so if you want to compete in the Great Romantic Games you’ll need to round yourself up a group of close friends or family to beat the snot out of.

Race is the heart of Imagic Games combining 2D platforming with a 4 way competitive brawler. Featuring a number of guys and gals from fairy tale stories, teams are comprised of one Princess and one Prince who are split between the two game modes. The objective of the Imagic Games is for the Princes to race along through danger filled labyrinths to rescue their partner Princess, all of whom have been taken and locked away within a chest. The contestants are all wackier versions of the fairy tale characters we grew up with, each with their own movesets. Hansel and Gretel are larger, heavier built characters so they move a lot slower but pack heavier attacks, while Red Hood and the BBW are smaller and lankier so they feel more agile but lack some attacking prowess. You won’t find one pairing though that feels superior to the others as each character has been well balanced, and with such a small rooster you’ll quickly find a team that works well with you.Abraca02

In the prince phase players take turns running and jumping through platform levels filled with pitfalls and cute little enemies. They’re only given 60 seconds and a handful of hearts to do so though, after which they turn to harmless frogs waiting for their next turn. Watching each player in turn tackling the dungeons traps would make for a very dull experience for the other players, but here they have the opportunity to hinder a player’s progress. During a player’s run, up to three players take control of ghosts with the ability to possess any of the levels enemies in an attempt to slow them down. Imagine trying to jump around from platform to platform when your friends or relatives are in control of them. It controls very well and it feels very much like a typical Mario game but as for the level designs themselves you won’t find anything particularly memorable.

Once all of the Princes have finished their runs, it’s then time for the Princesses to take the lead in a royal rumble. Playing out similarly to a Super Smash Bros brawl, the Princesses duke it out it out to determine how much health their partnered Prince gets for the platforming stages. Characters have a single standard attack and a ranged attack both of which can also be charged. The platforming sections feel generic but the brawls feel more fleshed out. To keep these matches fresh objectives are randomly presented every time you enter the arena. One round you could be collecting more gingerbread men then your rivals, another stealing all of your opponents golden swag or even playing king of the hill with a crown. It’s a nice addition which keeps these fights from feeling too stale. If you’d rather play more of these fights or just get in some practice there’s also an Arena mode where you can set objectives.Abraca03

The two modes on their own are nothing particularly fantastic but together they work surprisingly well and are a lot more enjoyable. It switches up the gameplay just enough to hold players interest, and as you’re playing with friends, levels are as difficult as they make it. The tutorial perhaps makes the whole game sound more complicated than it actually is but trust me it really isn’t. Platforming feels like a Mario game, fights resemble a toned down Smash Bros and the controls are responsive and easy enough for anyone to pick up. Whether you’re playing with young children, or just having a laugh with a couple of mates, players of all skill level are able to get some enjoyment out of it.

Now we come to the problem with ABRACA, and it is a big problem. This is very much confined to a couch co-op game. There are only three modes Race, Arena and a single solo mode which presents challenges for honing players skills. Princesses face a series of break the target challenges while Princes get timing crucial platforming tasks.  Completing and achieving a max crown rating is certainly a taxing experience, sometimes even pushing into infuriating levels with sudden difficulty spikes, but it’s not worth getting this game for this mode alone. Race and arena could really have benefited from a vs CPU option for when playing alone bulking up any empty player slots. I like the fact that it’s trying to bring back the local multiplayer experience more, but online multiplayer would have made sense as for some it can be awkward trying to assemble a group of mates to play, something I found difficult when reviewing this title.Abraca04

Set in a charming fairy tale kingdom ABRACA’s visual and audio appeal is very inviting with a vibrant colour palette and fun upbeat tracks and sound clips. It all comes together nicely to push that fantasy atmosphere and the cartoony style was one of my favourite aspects reminding me a lot of the children’s show Fairly Odd Parents. Characters are wonderfully designed and animated in such a way that each has their own personality. Red Hood has that mischievous little grin while packing secret explosives in her basket. Prince Charming comes with a red rose, a chiselled jaw and pompous smug grin. With these little flourishes and their own distinct skill set it really doesn’t take long to track to your favourite royal partnership.

ABRACA – Imagic Games charming style and gameplay make this a very enjoyable party experience, the two genres of game blend together surprisingly well giving us many exciting races. It’s a game that can easily be played to fill in a couple of hours plus the simple controls and players defining the difficulty mean it’s easy for anyone to pick up and play. However the best thing about this game is also the worst, if you’re unable to gather a group of friends or family you’re limited to a single solo mode which is fun, but won’t hold players attention for long when compared to races.

6.6
Positives
+ Interesting blend of two gameplay genres
+ Very enjoyable as a couch co-op game
+ Easy for players of all skill to pick up and play
Negatives
– No online co-op or offline vs bots
– Small amount of gameplay modes
– Challenges can have some harsh difficulty spikes

This review is based off a review code of Abraca provided by Premier.

This review was originally published on Untold Gaming.

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