When video games and Greek mythology cross paths, typically the God of War franchise comes to mind. However, when Greek mythology and a pixelized retro-styling cross paths, Olympia Rising enters the fray. Players take control of Iola, a young warrior who finds herself cast to the Underworld. Iola must escape Hades’ domain and make her exit towards Mount Olympus. Throughout the journey, players will have to face off against various mythological beasts, as they traverse the nightmarish hell that awaits in the Underworld.
The Underworld is home to contrasting biomes that Iola must slice and dice her way through. Levels are separated into typical areas such as lava or ice, but in Olympia Rising, levels are more than just getting from point A to point B. This is where things get a little messy. Players will have to guide Iola and collect a certain amount of Obolus Coins in order to please a greedy skeleton named Charon that acts as a gatekeeper before each area. The formula is refreshing when compared to standard Platformers, but it is not without its flaws.
Collecting coins doesn’t feel very meaningful aside from allowing Iola to finally finish a level. Players can collect more coins than needed in a given level, but this extra pocket change doesn’t amount to anything. They won’t be used to buy any upgrades nor can they be used to buy items along the scenic route through the Underworld. This would make for a nice incentive to keep exploring or to try to rake in as much dough as possible. Instead, once Iola can buy her way to the next area, it seems best to just book it to the exit.
Each world Iola will encounter in Olympus Rising is segmented into distinctive levels. Some are quite relaxed and will have players freely roam around collecting coins. On the other hand, some levels will have Iola snagging as many coins as possible while climbing upwards to escape the Purge of Hades, a rising torrent of corrosive goop. The variation between hectic and calm will keep players on their toes. The Obolus Coins are scattered around in set places, but can also be earned with a well-placed sword swipe across any enemies in Iola’s path.
Unfortunately for Iola, it seems like she ended up in the Underworld with a sword that’s just a tad on the short side. Taking out enemies is necessary in order to clear a path and earn some honest money. Often times, this leads to taking hits that don’t necessarily feel like the player’s fault since Iola’s sword only has such a small set reach. Players will have to get in really close, but at the same time, maintain a minute distance. There were times that I was barely in striking distance, only to have the enemy make a slight movement and hit me. Combat would feel a lot more fluid and this wouldn’t exactly be a problem if the sword was just a teeny bit longer. Players can learn to manage, but those times where damage feels unavoidable bring upon some frustration.
On the bright side of things, power-ups are there to collect and aid Iola in combat. A fire power-up allows players to shoot flames a good distance to get that needed edge for ranged combat. A water power-up, that is honestly less useful, is great for defense. Activating the water power-up gives Iola a bubble shield in which she can’t be hit. This is nice if players really want to play it safe, but it feels like a stronger offense was the better way to go about handling things. While it could prove to be useful in some scenarios, the bubble shield takes a second to activate, so it feels less like a twitch reaction to avoid damage like a dodge would. It feels more like a way to react to a projectile that the player is already aware of and can potentially jump over. Lastly, there is a lightning power-up that strengthens Iola’s sword. This is great for adding that length bonus previously mentioned as well as general power.
Each power-up has to be activated and once activated, they consume magic which can be replenished by finding magic potions. Magic is also utilized in order to grant Iola the ability to essentially fly. This becomes a great way to distance Iola from sudden danger very quickly.
One huge flaw in the design of Olympia Rising comes in the form of blind drops. Sometimes, in order to move along, players will have to blindly plunge downwards. Instead of being able to react to what is beneath Iola’s feet, players will have to blindly swing their sword in hopes of killing any small enemies that may happen to be hanging out where Iola is falling. This can also lead to you falling on tougher enemies that take more than one hit to kill. These blind drops will lead to frustrating and untimely deaths that are sure to aggravate players.
Olympia Rising is a fun Action-Platformer with beautiful pixelized graphics. Its Underworld atmosphere is oddly welcoming to players for something that represents death. Aside from a few shortcomings, Olympia Rising is a decent experience that players will enjoy overall. For only $4.99, players looking to add a wonderfully pixelized 2D Action-Platformer to their Steam library on their PC or Mac will get their money’s worth. If the visual style and atmosphere don’t win you over, the fluid maneuverability will. With a little more elbow grease, Olympia Rising could be an even greater experience.
Original Author: Connor McCullar