Physics Games and Physics-Based Game Downloads

Sail Away With The Odyssey: Winds of Athena

Saturday, July 1st, 2006 by Matthew in Physics Games
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (Rate this game! 78 votes, average: 2.77 out of 5)

The Odyssey: Winds of Athena is a slick downloadable physics games by the aptly-named Liquid Dragon. The company’s technological bent is fluid dynamics, and they’ve used their fluid solver to power this casual action/puzzle title. The game’s official description is:

Step into the shoes of the Goddess Athena and help guide Ulysses’ fleet to safety. Fend-off Cyclopes, Harpies and more while creating currents and winds to lead the boats to their destination.

Game Structure

The goal of Odyssey is straightforward. Boats enter the single-screen world from a designated starting point, and it’s your job to make sure they reach the designated exit intact. To this end you can control the wind (with a neat gesture-based clockwise/counterclockwise mouse rotation) or click and drag to affect currents in the water.

The fluid dynamics in Odyssey are excellent. Interacting with the currents is intuitive, and the resulting motion is predictable. Of course, when you’re dealing with fluid dynamics it’s easy to generate eddies and whirlpools. This can sometimes be frustrating, since it can be difficult to keep your boats moving forward.

Creating Challenge

Liquid Dragon has added a number of obstacles to the game to make it more difficult. Some of them, like the whirlwinds, have an effect on the fluid system. Many of the obstacles, though, are primarily targets for user clicks. In later levels, birds will fly in to pick up your ships, cyclops will throw rocks, and so on. To stop them, you simply need to click on the birds or rocks. While these mechanisms are effective at making the game more difficult, I feel they distract you from the interesting physical aspects of the fluid dynamics (although it does make the requirement of holding the mouse down for a few seconds to change wind speed very significant). I would much rather have seen more designs that interact with and influence the fluid solver than arbitrary click-on-this challenges.

The levels also add a puzzle element through the use of gates, which introduce keyed locks. Touching a pillar of one color with a ship will open gates of the corresponding color. Primarily you need to open gates to let your ships pass through, although in later levels opening gates will also open and close streams that influence the current movement. Again, I would have preferred to see more puzzles based around modifying the currents.

Odyssey Winds of Athena Screenshot Screenshot of Physics Games
(Odyssey: Winds of Athena Game Screenshots)

Game Design Pacing Issues

The concept of The Odyssey: Winds of Athena is fantastic. There are other games that use fluid solvers, like Plasma Pong, but Odyssey is unique. I don’t think I’ve seen another game quite like it. The implementation has some rough spots, though. In particular the pacing is very lopsided. Typically, a handful of boats will end up as stragglers. This requires cleanup at the end of the level which dampens the feeling of success. It’s annoying when you’re forced to keep playing after you’re mentally finished the stage.

Give it a Whirl!

All things considered, though, Odyssey is a well-produced, unique title. For me, the game was more novel than addictive, but I’m sure it will be more appealing to others. There’s a free 60-minute trial version available, so there isn’t an excuse not to try it out.

Download The Odyssey: Winds of Athena Game (10.9 MB)

The full version is $19.99 and available at Liquid Dragon’s website.

Related Posts:

9 Responses to 'Sail Away With The Odyssey: Winds of Athena'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Sail Away With The Odyssey: Winds of Athena'.

  1. c--b said,

    on July 1st, 2006 at 10:45 pm

    The idea was good, and so was the execution; but unfortunately I don’t think the player is given enough direct control over currents. You’re almost guaranteed to get an undesired effect from the fluid dynamics system, this forces the player to apply constant corrections; in other words, you know what you have to do, but it’s just too damn hard to do it (And not in the good, challenging way but the frustrating annoying way.)

    Perhaps a better way to give the player control would be to allow them to place ‘fans’ (Limited according to the level) that push water in the selected direction, and perhaps some form of barrier (limited in size) to control or the flow of the water (Also limited in number per level).

    This is just how I would have done it though, I don’t think that the whole action aspect works in The Odyssey: Winds of Athenas’ favor. Maybe other people like it?

  2. Wrestler#1 said,

    on July 2nd, 2006 at 12:54 am

    The physics of this game are really good and the eastereggs are nice made (for example: drop a stone on a ogre)(I don’t know if there are more eastereggs)
    I can’t change the resolution (Doesn’t look great with this resolution)
    Hard to control those ships
    And I HATE trials! Why isn’t it a demo ???

  3. Beakless said,

    on July 2nd, 2006 at 4:53 am

    sounds good and origianal, BUT WHY A TRIAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-(

  4. BigZaphod said,

    on July 2nd, 2006 at 9:57 am

    How about a Mac version? I’d love to try this out! How tied to Windows is it?

  5. Arnos said,

    on July 2nd, 2006 at 11:24 am

    I feel that it isn’t fun, and thus it is a failure.

  6. Bashers said,

    on July 4th, 2006 at 3:12 am

    Laat de wind van Athene waaien

    Toen Odysseus na de Trojaanse oorlog op huis aan ging, stuurden de goden hem op een jarenlange omweg (lullig!). In het spelletje Odyssey: Winds of Athena kun je deze kloeke Griek helpen door het met je muis flink te laten…

  7. Beakless said,

    on July 9th, 2006 at 3:39 am

    …I’ll tell what i’d like to see…

    the return of the dismount series, or something like that. i hear that the dismount peeps are creating this new thing called dismout levels! go on to google and typen in dismount games and you can download little preveiws of the levels.

    still a bit buggy… but check it out coz it’s a great time waster.

    oh and by the way IT’S FREE :)

  8. Alex said,

    on July 10th, 2006 at 4:44 am

    I hated this game. The principle is nice but it would have been better to be able to place fans instead of scrubbing currents. It quickly becomes frustrating to play. Good presentation and graphics, nice physics but unfortunately this is one in a long line of examples of physics over game design.

  9. dc443 said,

    on July 12th, 2006 at 9:43 am

    The concept is really nice, but I would have preferred it to be more of a puzzle, where the currents would not die down so easily, and you can more or less leave your ships to travel without needing to click and drag your mouse like a total madman. I do like the little touches where, for instance, if you play in window mode, when you click outside the window the game automatically pauses.

    The way it is now, it reminds me more of those Defend your Castle type games that just require mouse clicking ad nauseum.

    Perhaps this is more suited for a touchscreen type game system. Easier to scrub currents with a pen.

Leave a Reply