It is more than obvious that the education system needs to change according to the way children today see and experience the world. As classic teaching styles are becoming more ineffective, any kind of change is more than welcome and it appears that a small indie group, The Young Socratics, understood the idea. They’ve created a very interesting puzzle game called “Odyssey” which focuses on making scientific ideas fun and interactive thus easier to understand and learn. Odyssey was also used as a learning tool at a middle school in California and their results were truly impressive.
As soon as I’ve seen Odyssey’s trailer I was very intrigued and interested in what this game could offer. I’m not a big fan of adventure puzzle games because I’m more focused on the quick reaction and thinking style of gaming. But, oh boy, this game is a challenge. I had the opportunity to start playing the current build a few days before it hit Steam Early Access earlier today. And my overall opinion is they should definitely use this game in schools because children could truly learn basic and very interesting astronomical and physics-related concepts.
My first instinct while entering a game is to check the control options for mouse sensitivity, graphics, and sound volume. I’ve noticed that they have a “Look Smoothing” option which in my opinion should be something that’s implemented in the game from the start and not something you have to adjust. Also, they should’ve drawn inspiration from FPS games when it comes to mouse sensitivity adjustments because it is very hard to find the perfect sensitivity level when they are not grouped. The reason why mouse sensitivity is so important is because you’ll have to move around a lot in this game and you probably don’t want to get frustrated over interrupted mouse movement.
Sound and Graphics
Speaking of control options, although you should keep your speech volume high, I’d recommend adjusting the music and SFX volume to low. But apparently there is one SFX sound that you’ll always hear louder and it’s something that the developers could work on. Although graphics are not that important for this particular style of game it is pretty decent and more than enough. Still, they’ve got a lot of “invisible walls” that would let you pass and because of those, you can get stuck.
The Story of Odyssey
The story of the game is pretty much childish considering that the game was developed to become a more interactive way of learning for kids but it doesn’t lack the adventure side. You get a distress call from a family that was stranded on the Wretched Islands because some sailors believed there’s treasure on them and sunk their boat to force them to find the treasure. They’ve built some mechanisms based on geography, physics, astrology and so on to hide from the sailors until someone comes to save them. Your goal is to unlock the puzzles they’ve left behind and to help them get off the Wretched Islands.
Easier said than done because the puzzles are indeed challenging. You’ll find pieces of Kai Rao’s journal which explains on what principles they’ve built their puzzles on in order for you to understand how to unlock them. Basically, prepare yourself to read a lot if you want to get to the next puzzle. Although if we consider it a way of teaching, the idea of reading another kid’s journal could be something other children could relate to. At first, if you have some basic knowledge about geography and astrology you might feel like the game is too easy but believe me you will definitely reach some puzzles that seem impossible to pass, I’m actually stuck on an astrology puzzle.
Overall, I was genuinely impressed by the difficulty of the game but I do believe that it is an interactive way of learning and children today would have a positive response to it. Even if you are not a big fan of adventure puzzle games I would recommend it to anyone, not only kids because a lot of adults today actually think that the world is flat. What I’m trying to say is that a lot of people don’t know basic facts about geography or astrology (like me) and the game really explains things in the simplest way possible.