Developer: Orange Pylon Games
Release Date: July 29, 2021
I think the only thing I really feel like I missed out with not having grown up in a console-loving household is Pokémon. In fact, I think my first hands-on creature battling experience was when pet battles were introduced in World of Warcraft. Yet there’s something about this type of game that I am drawn to over and over.
However, since I was unfamiliar with what the store description meant when it said Abomi Nation was “inspired by the Nuzlocke challenge”, off I went to Google to look that up.
I feel like this might have been how this game mistakenly ended up with the “Roguelike” tag. If that’s the sort of gameplay you’re looking for, this is probably going to miss the mark for you. Sure, there’s turn based battles, and yes, if one of your Abomis run out of health, they’re gone for good, but it really plays out more like a Poké-clone than anything else. In fact, you can turn down the difficulty and turn off permadeath if you so choose. I went with the intended experience, and managed to make it to the first boss fight without losing a single Abomi.
You start out choosing from three possible creatures, and having absolutely no idea what I was doing, I went with the monkey, who I called Nibbles, and you have limited opportunities to pick up other team members along the way. The game explains this away by telling you that only some Abomis have what it takes to fight for the Light Spirit, while most of the enemies you face are only the stolen souls of Abomis, and when you defeat them, you release their souls, so you won’t be doing any trapping of them in little balls. That would not be very Light Spirit-y of you.
I probably would have passed on this one if I had take a moment to look up Nuzlocke ahead of time, because the randomness of taking what I’m given is my least favorite part of creature collectors. By the time I faced off against the first boss, I had only four critters for my team. I like the collection aspects of these games far more than the actual battling parts, so that fell a little bit flat for me.
I did appreciate the game’s humor – for the most part, and the storyline is perfectly serviceable. After just about every wild area, there’s a settlement where you can sit by the fire to restore your teams’ health, and stock up on consumables before heading out again. Most areas only have a single entrance and exit, and that leaves the game feeling linear as it limits exploration (assumedly to keep you from collecting too many different critters and thus being able to optimize your way around the challenges).
Overall, for me, Abomi Nation was something less than what I had wanted it to be, but not so much so as to render it an unenjoyable experience. It would probably be fantastic for folks craving more challenge in their critter battlers, but the randomness took away a bit of strategizing, and the permadeath made me hesitant to get too attached to my Abomis. I probably won’t return to it, but I’m not sorry I tried it out.
While SteamDB estimates that Abomi Nation has sold between 1,800 and 4,900 copies on Steam, which surprised me as I expected there’d be more interest in Poké-clones on PC. Reviews are very positive overall, as most reviewers have enjoyed both the gameplay and the aesthetic. It is ranked 1869 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.