The Curse of Issyos – What We Think:
The Curse of Issyos is a free action platformer released by Spanish independent game developer Locomalito. This game is the follow-up to his 2012 cult classic, Maldita Castilla. Compared often to Capcom’s 1985 Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise, Maldita Castilla was highly critically acclaimed, spawning speed-run tournaments and arcade machines alike.
Three years later, Locomalito released his passion project, The Curse of Issyos, which he actually started development for in 2010. Stating that he has always had a love for Greek mythology, this game will pit you against around 40 different enemies and nine bosses steeped in the lore.
The game starts with your hero Defkalion, a humble fisherman, receiving a message from the goddess Athena. He is informed that his homeland of Issyos has been cursed by Olympus, and he must travel back to save his daughter. Armed with a sword, bow and a toga, you begin to make your way through seven stages of nostalgic 1980s-inspired platforming. These are somewhat broken up by a few towns or wandering NPCs, where you can purchase health or arrows with coins found hidden throughout the world.
Each stage will introduce new enemies, and Defkalion can become stronger by finding Power Armor or equipping a spear as opposed to a sword. Items are not often in the same location as previously, and enemies will respawn once you go back on the screen. Upon death, you keep the weapon you previously had equipped as well as your coins, but you will lose your armor.
A Sisyphean Task?
Locomalito states that The Curse of Issyos has roughly 45 minutes of gameplay, but that number is dramatically increased by the amount of times you will die and have to start over. The game graciously provides you with four continues after a game over; however it’s almost certain you will use all of those up in your first run of level 3, where the difficulty is amped up a few notches.
It’s an enjoyable level, however, as the second part of the stage has a giant statue chasing you as you are forced to clear enemies out of your way and destroy blocks in time to pass obstacles before he catches up to you, which will result in instant death. The difficulty may be discouraging for the faint of heart, but dedicated gamers who remember the glory days of tough-to-beat NES games will find this a reason to keep playing.
Ode to the Classics
Another factor that will ensure multiple play-throughs is how challenging it is to get the “great” ending. There are three different endings you can view, are discovered based on how many secrets you can find. You may find this game to be more reminiscent of the Castlevania series, an enjoyable ride to the end with a wonderful chiptune soundtrack and Ninja Gaiden-like difficulty. It doesn’t seem as refined as Maldita Castilla, but therein lies the charm.
Watch the trailer for Curse of Issyos below: