L’Abbaye des Morts

By: Derek Yu

On: September 15th, 2010

L'Abbaye des Morts by Locomalito

[Note: Paul covered this game in his Weekly Report #2, but I had already written my review. Anyway, it’s worth another mention!]

Locomalito and his companion Gryzor87 have released L’Abbaye des Morts (download mirror), a Jet Set Willy-inspired platformer based on the persecution of the Cathars by the Catholic Church (read the Wikipedia entry – it’s pretty horrible stuff). Despite being labeled “a minor game” by its creator, L’Abbaye is well-made and very fun, with great challenge and lots of secrets packed into a small package. The limited graphics and audio actually do a lot to bolster the creepiness of the game’s occult theme.

One thing I like about Locomalito games is how they handle game overs – whereas with this type of game I feel like a lot of indie game developers might offer the player either a cruel one life or a feckless infinite number of lives, L’Abbaye offers you reusable checkpoints and nine lives which can be replenished at certain points during the game.L'Abbaye des Morts by Locomalito This system worked great for me, and while it was frustrating at times to have to restart, the level design is such that you can beat the game very quickly when you know what to do. By the time I won, nine lives felt quite generous.

I also like the historical setting for the game, inspired by a vacation to southern France, that lends the game’s fantastical story more depth. The cover art, by musician Gryzor87, is a wonderful bonus. These are the kinds of small touches that make playing L’Abbaye des Morts, and Locomalito games in general, feel meaty and satisfying.

If it sounds like I’m a fanboy, it’s because I am one! These guys are awesome.

TIGdb: Entry for L’Abbaye des Morts

  • Dodger

    I totally understand what you mean allen, however I didn't feel the same way about L’Abbaye des Morts and there are probably a couple of reasons for this. 1.) It is not an extremely long game. There are some parts which can be trying or taxing, but I was more surprised by the fact that I wanted to play through it and see the ending over wanting to just quit and try again later and I think that says something about the quality of the game. 2.) The game is extremely well made. There are secrets and areas of the game that you could guess at but there is still a 50/50 chance you'll make the wrong choice whether to try and make a leap of faith or not, but this is also remedied by the clues that are scattered around – neither of which are too cryptic for the average gamer or too obscure to get. It doesn't actually make the gameplay any easier, but it does allow you to discover what needs to be done next without holding the players hand too much. 3.) As hard as it is to actually finish the game, it is just as hard to gets stuck in the game. Let me clarify what I mean by saying that if you cannot proceed there is a reason for it and (as far as I know) there is always a way to get back to where you need to go in order to open or unlock that next area. It is labyrinthine in its design, but I haven't found a way to get permanently stuck, which is a testament to the level design. I think it's a very difficult thing to make a game so complete and have the little details work out so well. I mean just look at Metroid Other M just as an example, supposedly made by “Professional” mainstream developers (Team Ninja… really??) and yet they couldn't flesh out the level design well enough to prevent a crippling bug that would prevent the player from proceeding through the game, forcing some players to actually have to re-start the entire adventure. Might not sound like the end of the world, but that is annoying as hell, whether you like the game or not (and I actually do like the game – it's not my favorite in the series, but it's a change of pace to the series that is kind of refreshing – minus some of the cutscenes). So when it comes to frustration levels and the enjoyment of the games elements as a whole, I think it would be very easy to find many other more popular games that may in fact be good or decent games but are equally as frustrating or simply not as well developed as L’Abbaye des Morts.

    I absolutely understand that type of frustration you're describing though, I just couldn't apply it to this game personally. It's just well made, and when I compare it to so many other games especially mainstream games which I actually enjoyed, those other games flaws become more apparent.

    On a side note, if you do find L’Abbaye des Morts more frustrating than fun then you should probably also avoid La Mulana. I, however, can't wait for it's re-release on the Wii.

  • Groogokk

    I'm not very good at platformers, but the game kept me coming back for more until after maybe 20 tries I managed to complete it. I believe the game is very well-made, especially the fact that there are several clues to the puzzles (so you have a fair chance of guessing what you have to do) and the fact that a keen eye helps you more than a lot of practice. Both the graphics and the music are fantastic. I found myself standing in that clock tower room (“A prayer of hope”), listening to the melancholy tune for a while, before continuing the struggle against evil.

  • http://www.twitter.com/offalal offal

    speccy 4 lyfe

  • reuben

    holy crap guys it's been like almost 10 days since the last update :(((

  • Dodger

    I concur. Let's get some indie gaming goodness flowing again.

  • Mirosurabu

    Love the Sinclair/Atari style and I like the premise. However I didn't finish the game because it was too punishing for what it gives. Went through it three and spent around an hour and all I could get is 7 crosses.

    The game is quite pedantic. It's asking for a very high level of concentration and very slight drops in concentration are heavily punished. Challenges are quite unfair and many of them can only be completed if you memorize them well.The pace is slow questioning my patience and making the 'game over' have a much worse effect than it would have if the game was faster. But I suppose the pacing was having its ties to other aspects of the game.

    Now, that wouldn't be all too bad if it actually had “slightly varied content” each time you play to justify repetitions. Bit Trip Runner gives a good example of how to do this. Bit Trip Runner doesn't force you to start the game all over again, but instead it forces you to play each level from the very beginning once you lose. And the later levels get quite long and quite unfair but replaying is justified by varied music and “musical progress marks” (collecting crosses and proceeding to the next level in song). Thanks to that I can keep playing the same level over and over again without feeling way too punished.

  • Mirosurabu

    Ah, rushed post was rushed because I thought it could be edited later!

    Anywas, I wish this game was a bit more forgiving or I wish replaying was more rewarding.

  • Saluk64007

    How low (skinny) can we go?