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Relic Odyssey: Ruins of Xantao – Review

Relic Odyssey: Ruins of Xantao is a semi-roguelike, semi-survival, semi-dungeon crawler game in early access on Steam from new indie developer Honour Bound Games. I’m generally quite a fan of games like these, so I was interested to see how this title combined all these facets and if it could form a cohesive experience.

A view of the ruins in the second area of the game, a predominantly desert region - Relic Odyssey

Relic Odyssey starts us off being flown down to an alien planet to investigate the loss of a whole base, but a crash landing sends us off course. Immediately, I’m struck by two things. Firstly, the colour palette and world design look excellent, being very distinct from many other games and truly giving the feel of this being an unfamiliar land. The second is the truly atrocious text-to-speech voice acting. This was so jarring it immediately pulled me away from the immersion I had started to feel.

The crash site at the beginning of the game, featuring our companion Sarah in a pink space suit - Relic Odyssey

Exploring further into Relic Odyssey, we meet other characters, including the sidekick robot Clunky. This was the first character I actually appreciated since, being a robot, the text-to-speech nature of the voice acting was passable and he seemed fairly well-written. However, much like the rest of this game, it was soon clear that it was very surface-level.

The modification menu for our robot companion Clunky, a small ball shaped robot with a screen for a face and short spider legs - Relic Odyssey

The use of melee attack to harvest crafting materials is very quickly dropped for one of the key features of Relic Odyssey, this being a glove. It can suck things in, and it can fire them away. In essence, it’s the gravity gun from Half-Life 2 but with the added utility of being able to harvest materials, essentially leaving the melee attack that seemed so important in the beginning to be totally forgotten about.

Attempting to use the melee attack to harvest a green material in the wall - Relic Odyssey

Speaking of surface level, the world design is also very surface level. While it may look good in carefully crafted stills, closer examination shows conflicting textures, effects, and clipping. I appreciate that if you go to explore, you will often find some kind of chest or data as a reward. But often I found myself asking if the route I took was intentional or if I’d found a way to break through game boundaries again.

A more jungle area with a waterfall that is a flat texture from the side - Relic Odyssey

The randomised dungeons are much the same. With very few tilesets the whole dungeon always looks the same and the randomised nature of it starts to become a bit more lost. While a great concept, more variety in the scope of randomisation would help significantly.

Looking down at a defeated alien enemy with Clunky stood by our side - Relic Odyssey

During the review period, a patch was released that further improved the controller support it initially advertised. Although very appreciated, the default controller layout leaves much to be desired and there are currently no ways to rebind controls in any way in-game. I have a mouse with two additional programmable buttons so the ability to utilise those in-game would be greatly appreciated, and I hope this is something the developers have on their timeline for updates.

The music in Relic Odyssey is functional but there were no tracks that really drew me in. It feels quite generic in a lot of places and I ended up playing muted a lot of the time, in part also to avoid listening to any more of the atrocious AI voice acting.

A floating mining rig in the forest. It is a floating ring with a separate drill floating underneath - Relic Odyssey

As for the gunplay, I can say that feels more well-balanced, with guns that are different enough from one another and each having their purpose during gameplay. Some more finesse and tweaking need to be added to the overall game as there are many moments where it will either bug or, worse still, simply bore you. An example of this is that there are 24 achievements currently and I haven’t received a single one, even after meeting the criteria.

The first main boss of the game, The Sporeweaver. A creature with a long torso rising from a hole in the ground with 8 arms and 2 pincers - Relic Odyssey

In all, Relic Odyssey: Ruins of Xantao is very much a skeleton at present. While there is a clear vision in mind for what the game will be, and it has a decent foundation to build from, this certainly feels more like an alpha build than a beta. It starts strong but after the first two hours the cracks really start to show and the game balance leads to a frustrating and eventually boring experience.

I can see a lot of potential in this game and with more updates I hope to see this game flourish and live up to the dreams of its developers. However, there is not enough here yet for me to be able to recommend it.

2/10 star rating





One response to “Relic Odyssey: Ruins of Xantao – Review”

  1. mirror avatar

    Helpful, I heard there will be a big update very soon. We will see after it

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