Game Review

Anonymous Notes Chapter 4 - From the Abyss Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Tim Latshaw

Four-ev-urrr

The Anonymous Notes series is pretty meta, in a way. For games about eternally slaying monsters in dungeons, they never seem to stop emerging from the eShop themselves. If you’ve been following along with our reviews, it probably won’t surprise you to know that Anonymous Notes Chapter 4 - From the Abyss is very much like Chapter 3, Chapter 2, and Chapter 1 before it. Our Chapter 1 review will provide the best general overlay of what’s to offer here.

The hero for this go is Nome, a bristly fighter who’s here to kill infinite beasties and tell an interesting backstory, and two guesses as to which one she’s all out of. The dialogue that takes place between dungeon dives in the game is rather bland and, in a few minor cases, not very well translated.

The meat of the game, however, is still found in the dungeons. They are sea grotto-flavoured this time, retaining the same quaint, 16-bit feel of games past. This abyss still plays like all the others, though: hack, slash, find loot, kill the boss, rinse, and repeat. There are different weapon types with different strengths, which can be fun to experiment with, but weapons and other equippable items are the only ways to alter Nome’s stats, since there is no levelling up.

The “Soul Capture” ability returns as well, where skills and healing can be absorbed from weakened monsters. Capturing a spirit also runs the somewhat frequent risk of a temporary negative effect, though, making the ability feel at first like a necessary evil as you build powers. Nome’s acquired skills remain after she’s knocked out but her items are taken, so once a comfortable set of skills are collected it’s more tempting to run past creatures than engage them.

Saves from previous games can be loaded into Chapter 4 to port over any saved equipment. There is also access to an independent save file that won’t connect with other games, should it be desired.

Conclusion

Anonymous Notes Chapter 4 - From the Abyss is another near-identical instalment in the series. This is where we usually say your enjoyment will depend on how you liked previous games, but there’s one notable difference here: as of the time of this review, Chapter 4 is a full $3 more expensive than the previous titles! Veterans should consider whether this game is worth more of their change, while curious newcomers should definitely take one of the other chapters for a test run.

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User Comments (28)

Drac_Mazoku

#2

Drac_Mazoku said:

No mention of the fact that if you manage to get 1 star in each of the chapter (do 5 loop), then the game real finale open, with a REALLY HARD series of final boss, that you fight using all 4 of the characters (Another case of NL not doing their search before posting things, like the fake news that was the AeternoBlade DLC, which was always there, not attached to the patch released some days ago). The reason its price is higher is because there's actually more content in it than the previous chapter. But this is something you'll know only if you play to them more than 5 minutes. You need to actually finish the series to discover that.

I would give the 4 chapters (since they all go together for me) a final note of 7/10. The fact that you don't level up, only rely on your gear and skills make it a REALLY challenging experience, especially this chapter, where some of the later loop of the Dark Knigh can inflict you damage of 1500HP (you only have 1000HP at all time, which is 1-hit kill). The real final boss is also a real pain in the rear to kill. I didnt even managed to do it (only beat the 4 cocoons before it), but weirdly enough the game glitched and considered I've beaten it. Hence why I've completed the game. BUT if anynone know how to beat the REAL final boss fairly, I would like to hear, because he seems to be impossible in this version of the game (I've heard the original DS games was way too easy, it's the total opposite in this version. Maybe the Final Boss was not balanced enough in the DSiWare version compared to the DS one because the window where you can actually damage him is really little, and the amount of damage you do is really tiny, even with SS-Rank weapons (the top gear))..

PS: The only REAL bad point of this very chapter is the fact that some part seems to be indeed Google Translated, where the structure of the sentence don't make sense. All previous 3 chapters were fine translation wise, but this one was surely rushed through the door. See for yourself, just die a bunch of time in a row with Nome, until Helen takes pity if you and give you a Resurection item....laugh at the text that appear then :)

PPS:One final note for those interrested, finishing all 4 games with top gears and all Extra Dungeon 1, 2 and 3 and the True Final Boss beaten took me 18-19 hours. The price of all game together was 11$. Since it beat the rule of 1$/hour, it's also a really good price for the content that is there.

9th_Sage

#4

9th_Sage said:

"Another case of NL not doing their search"
So you're faulting them for not completing the game five times before reviewing it? Maybe it gets harder or something on each 'loop', but you don't need to do that to review the game...it's not like it plays very differently.

Drac_Mazoku

#5

Drac_Mazoku said:

@9th_Sage: Since Chapter 4 main point is the fact that you actually get something from beating all 4 games that IS Major (you know, the actual finale), I really think that yes, it's worth mentionning. I mean, even the digital manual for the game mention it (and opening the digital booklet doesnt require you to beat the game at all), so a review where people will maybe base their purchase on it is indeed a place where I expect to see it, to have minimum research at least, not just doing a copy & paste of what was said of previous chapter.. Plus the review mention the extra 3$, like it was there for nothing. So at that point, it's misinformation since there's actually a good reason for the extra cost.

PS: the game is not beaten until you do 5 loops. The story continue for each character beyond the first loop. So no, just doing 1 loop and calling it a day is far from a fair review.

9th_Sage

#6

9th_Sage said:

Why would you 'open the digital booklet' when the game is, and no offense to you , about the same as the other three?

Drac_Mazoku

#9

Drac_Mazoku said:

@9th_Sage I went ahead and read all 3 previous reviews too. No mention of anything happening after 5 loops (like the difficulty select that you can adust from 1 to 10 to help you with your drop or the extra dungeons for the first 3 chapters). I don't know why you defend NL when indeed they just played it 10 minutes (the first loop of each game being the easy one) and call it a day, when you actually need to play intelligentely pass the first chapter and the later loop (the Golem, Witch and Dark Knight fights can become really intense on some of the later loop).

NL is a big site people trust for Nintendo related stuff. When reading those reviews, people will just think they're boring hack-and-slash game (like the first poster for example), when actually the fact that you don't level up make them more intense, almost like an action-stealth game, where you plan which enemy you'll kill and which you'll pass so you keep your HP really high for the boss at the end (since there's no healing item you can keep in your inventory beside the Resurection item, which can be hard to get, and only heal 333HP when you die) learning all the enemies pattern, which ones will have delay to cast spell so you can get through them, which ones will manage to hit you hard, so it's safer to kill them. You can't rush through anything like any hack-and-slash, that is, if you actually went beyond the first loop, which is just training wheel, and will not give you any extra content for Chapter 4 anyway. Not mentionning what I consider THE MAJOR selling point of Chapter 4 (a TRUE final boss after you went through every chapters, which is the main reason why you use a shared save in the first place, beside keeping your gears) is not doing their basic research, sorry.

PS: Yes I'm faulting them for not doing 5 loops. Just so you know, the first loop can easily be done in 10 minutes. That's not what I call an in-depth review or even a surface one.

C-Olimar

#10

C-Olimar said:

I think if Tim had completed the game 5 times, he would have given it a lower score for that pathetic way of increasing a game's length...

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#11

Philip_J_Reed said:

I make a point of completing every game 44 times before I review it, just in case something changes.

Drac_Mazoku

#12

Drac_Mazoku said:

Look, at this point, I understand none have played the games beside me (at least it seems). Nintendo Life bare review will surely be the only thing that matters to you all. The game is really better than a 5 if you go beyond the first 10 minutes. But in any case, at that point, it's opinion. What matter here is that they could at the very least mention the REAL reason why it costs more, and also say how Chapter 4 is actually different this time if you followed the entire series, things that can be found in the manual and the press release too from what I remember. From its review, we have the feeling Chapter 4 is just the very same game with 1 basic dungeon and boss at the end. As that is misinformation. At that point, I'm alone against everyone anyway (even though all my posts are surely more in-depth than this entire review if you compile them at this point). If you prefer to listen to someone who have not played the game past the first few minutes, fine.

Windy

#13

Windy said:

@Drac_Mazoku I've started to doubt NL's reviews for a while now. They rated Race to Line a 6. Well if that's the case this game deserves a 10. Cause I guarantee this is better than Race to the Line. I have no clue why Race to the Line the worst racing game I ever played got a 6. I'm a big fan of these Anonymous Notes series and after playing 3 chapters would give it a 7. I did buy chapter 4 but haven't got to it yet.

TimLatshawAdmin

#14

TimLatshaw said:

@Drac_Mazoku It's obvious you feel very strongly about this series, which is something you shouldn't have to feel alienated for, and you deserve full disclosure.

You are correct that I did not loop 5 times. I did play for several hours, however, much of it involving dying and being sent back to the start of an area. I didn't fault the game for this, as it seemed pretty fair, but your assertion that the first loop can be completed in about 10 minutes seems off to me, in my experience. You may just be a better player at this than I am, which is fair, but were you playing with equipment brought over from previous games? I was not.

I did not have any of the previous games to go on and was put in as a substitute for this review. I was not aware of an endgame. The page on Nintendo's site does not mention it (http://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/oW8tnp7u8Tb3Yi2qIvpYVHU1jOBPtYY5), and while I skimmed the digital manual to learn general information and controls, I missed the information you say is in there. I do believe you, but I am unfortunately at work at the moment and do not have my 3DS with me to see it myself.

The fact I missed that there was an endgame does still fall on me as a reviewer, however, and for that I am sorry. That said, I do have a few questions about it (which I can't find answers for myself at this moment, forgive me):

1. Do you need to have played through all the previous games in order to unlock the endgame? Would I, having owned only Chapter 4, been able to reach it?

2. Do you feel the content of the endgame makes it worth the extra $3? Is it in itself worth more than the price of any individual chapter, especially if it is indeed true that you need to have already purchased those chapters to even access it? If so, a newcomer still certainly shouldn't pick up Chapter 4 first.

3. What happened when the game glitched? Do you feel robbed of the endgame victory, or can you easily access it again?

I feel these are important questions for people to know the answers to, and I apologize again for not being the one to provide them in this review and for disappointing you. I do not apologize, however, for my opinion of the game in general, just as much as I do not decry you or @Windy for giving it a higher score. We are all individuals with our own opinions and not objective review-computing machines. If you or anyone else disagrees with the scores we provide, please say why and express your own feelings, just as you've done here. A variety of views is encouraged.

Zizzy

#15

Zizzy said:

@9th_Sage To be fair, it is the reviewers job to know everything about what they're reviewing. No matter how similar the game is to it's predecessors. How can you give an honest and educated opinion if you don't?

Windy

#16

Windy said:

@TimLatshaw Oh I agree with you Tim. Its all opinion. Personally I need to get off this Race to Line comparison because one has nothing to do with the other. But Race to Line seriously is the worst racing game ever made. If anyone doesn't trust that. Just try downloading it. But definitely these Anonymous notes games aren't for everyone. Its a lot of grinding and item searching and doing it again. Some people like them and some don't.

Drac_Mazoku

#17

Drac_Mazoku said:

@TimLatshaw Thanks for the very detailled reply, which feel better to read then the short one who were just denying everything I wrote in a few words. Yes it angered me, and yes, my posts were pretty negative against NL because it's the second time in one week where incomplete or false data have been posted here (still refering to the news about AeternoBlade DLC, which was 100% wrong, and turned out to be more of a click-bait because of the clear emphasis on the Bikini DLC. This was wrong since the DLC was always there, but also it started a stupid debate on vain things), and yes, maybe I'm really too passsionnate about all this, but this is my hobby, and I like to write about it when something is truly bothering (and maybe it's because I remember when it was still VC-Reviews, when the site was more focus and in-depth on the subject at hand, now I feel a lot of things are not given the attention they deserve for complete analysis, which may hurt some games because not a lot of publication review those smaller eShop games). I did my research to see if I was breaking any rules of conduct, and made sure to make a very detailled post so it would not feel like general bashing.

In any case, yes, if you've played all 4 games, you learn that loop 1 is useless, so yes, with the right gear (which I implied you had since you talked about how you could take gear from your previous save), it's just a matter of rushing to the boss (by chapter 4, you know all enemies pattern, like I said, you don't play this like an Action-RPG), since loop 1 loot is useless anyway. Of course, starting from Chapter 4 directly may changes things a little, as the whole chapter is indeed harder as a whole (in the later loop in my case), though at this point, the game should not be bought anyway as a stand-alone, but as a whole experience, and as such, only talking about the game as a stand-alone experience without talking about what make this chapter special really does the game a disservice in my opinion.

As for what what was released about the game pre-release, I will try to find the press release of it, I know I've read it somewhere on the internet, and that it was mentionned, but this one I'm going by memory for now. Though for the manual, it's clearly stated.

In any case, yes thanks for at least answering me in a formal maner and aknowledge my problems witht the review. At this point, I feel like I've not wasted my time writing all this like most replies made me feel. I can understand your position if you were just a substitute, it's just sad to see this review will surely be the one and only review from a big site, and this is what people will see about the game when googling it. That's the sad part.

As for your question

1. I think you will need to have played all 4. While it was unlocked by default for me, the way the story goes re-introducing all 4 characters one by one would make no sense if you didnt played the previous chapters, and the 4 stars on your save file would also have no purpose if it was not unlocking something in the end.

2.For me, maybe not a 3$ extra but then again, I wonder if there's more if I manage to beat the true final boss normally. Maybe there's more extra content hidden yet. The Final Boss was really a great looking giant 2D sprites with multiples moving sprites, so the reward of seeing it was worth it, at least for me, even if he was far too challenging.

3.Yes, I feel like I've missed something. What happened is that you need to beat 4 Cocoons (let's say final boss first-form), one with each character. Then afterward, the game continue by saying that we now have access to the True Final boss with Nome, so I went there, and was totally beaten to a pulp, 12+ Resurection items being eaten quickly with me only making him lost around 10% of his health. I saved before the Last Boss, so I decided to reload and go back to farm some more resurection items to give me a better chance of beating. BUT upon reloading, I was back with fighting the Cocoon with Nome. I beat it, just to see, and instead of beating 4 in a row, it went straight to the Final Boss with Raid instead saying that Nome defeated the Abyss Lord 3 days ago, when I clearly didnt.

At that point, I wanted some more people to try the full game and maybe help me understand how we are supposed to beat him with the tiny damage we can inflict him. I just hope people will still give the games a chance and not base their decision on this review alone, but chances are, they unfortunately will :(

Thanks again for taking my point of view and my criticism into account and not in the wrong way, even if I used really negative sentences (I feel I backed every of my words though). It's really appreciated. I do hope that future reviews will be more in-depth, and hope the staffs around here are not angry to see posts like these when we feel some crucial informations are missing.

Windy

#19

Windy said:

@Drac_Mazoku Man I like your Spunk! I'm an old guy and have been very passionate about gaming. I can see you definitely just love the hobby. Hope there are many,many good games to come your way in future years. I love this hobby and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I also hope that people will give the game a chance. If they haven't played the series and are interested, start with chapter 1. If you like it chances are you will like the rest of the series. It is true there are not many changes between Chapters. However it does have the same core gameplay and in my opinion well worth 1.99 each for the first few chapters. I'm still playing chapter 3 and chapter 4 looks to be a bit of the same which I actually liked. Really eleven bucks for a nice little game like this is pretty much a bargain.

Drac_Mazoku

#20

Drac_Mazoku said:

@Windy: Thank you, it's great to see other passionate persons of a certain age enjoying their hobby to the fullest, and not being shy about taking heart in talking about it (even if many will just indeed just deny everything by a few simple words, which make me feel really stupid writing big text when no one really appreciate them, even more since it's harder for me to write so much in English, since French is my native language). I'm 31 years old right now, don't know if it's old or not for enjoying so much video-game (and being a father and all, I almost feel ashamed sometimes), but it's great to see some accept to have interresting debate around video game, even if it goes AGAINST the official words of the site. I still feel this infomation was crucial in the review of the game, and not talking about it really feels incomplete. At least, the reviewer understood my point of view, that's what matter :)

NewDansvilleBoy

#21

NewDansvilleBoy said:

From my own experience of the game, found it worth the spend for one chapter but can't say the prospect of another 10 hours of very similar gameplay excites me. Found the range of skills and weapons interesting but limited. Same with enemies. Is it much better here?

Drac_Mazoku

#22

Drac_Mazoku said:

Well, in a way, it's like gettin just different dungeon design, but you're indeed doing the same thing. Like, let's say, PSO, where you will always be going through the same 4 area over and over again, but to get better loot. I find the battles really fun and intense on harder difficulty too. So if you like chapter 1, chances are, you'll like the other chapter, if you know that this will mainly main different enemies, different dungeon design and different boss. It's a loot-driven game with no leveling. If you like getting better and better loots, then you'll find enjoyement for a while like I did.

Windy

#23

Windy said:

@NewDansvilleBoy well you do get new weapons and enemies. A few new spells as well. It also has a new season as the game seems to have 4 seasons. I do not know if there is a definitive ending on part 4 as I'm still working on chapter 3.

@Drac_Mazoku well I have Grand kids :)

Zodiak13

#24

Zodiak13 said:

@Drac_Mazoku @Windy Hardly anyone else would try and review these games. At least NL gives them a spin and some info for people to go off of. @Windy, as one of my favorite NL commenters I will say this. I love this style of game and own the previous 3 and found them more than lacking, and in fact not fun. Also I enjoy Race to the Line, but based on the review I went into it not as a racing game but as something totally different. I'm all over gaming sites, especially N themed ones, and NL does the best work overall in my opinion. Anyway thanks for the review Tim.

Windy

#25

Windy said:

@Zodiak13 Yep. NL does do the best work. 99% of the time right on! I get really crazy about that Race to the Line review I'm going to just STOP IT! Right now! Haha no more Race to the Line comparisons from here on out. OK let's get back to business and play! In fact I can't believe it after 6 or 7 years I lost about 30 sega saturn games. Well I found them tonight in a box and went all retro with Shining the Holy Ark. I will see you guys sometime next week :P

Drac_Mazoku

#26

Drac_Mazoku said:

@Windy awesome. I wish when I will be old enough to have grandkids too that I will still be passionate about gaming. It's really a struggle each day to accept that I'm still addicted at 30, but hey, we all know something we love to do to be "sane" in life I guess :)

Mattiator

#27

Mattiator said:

The question I've always had about this series is why bother when you can just buy From The Abyss as a retail title.

Drac_Mazoku

#28

Drac_Mazoku said:

Because the way it plays is different? Yes, From the Abyss retail may be a more complete experience, though I've always heard it was an very easy ride. Think of this as From the Abyss Ultra Challenging Edition :) Since you can't compensate your weakness with leveling (even better gears will not be as strong as you think), it's more about skill than slashing your way through every enemy in your path. If you don't see this as a RPG, but more an action game, you may appreciate more

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