The Curse of Issyos – An 8-Bit Classic From A Parallel Universe?


There are retro-inspired games like Dead Cells (read ATVG’s appreciation) for which studios have taken the framework of the classic 2D action-platform genre, and over that scaffolding built a modern classic with all the trimmings current-generation technology allows.

No one will ever mistake Dead Cells as a game from the late ’80s.

Then there are games like The Curse of Issyos, which will make retro-gaming enthusiasts wonder which parallel universe studios Locomalito and Abylight stole it from.

*** Spoiler Alert – don’t read on if you want the level IV boss and the setting of level V to remain a secret. These are things you may want to discover for yourself when The Curse of Issyos releases April 30***

After countless deaths, three harpies finally lay defeated, allowing entry into the Temple of Medusa.

After a couple of hours in the dead of last night fighting through desert sands and volcanic mountains, triumphing over skeletons, kamikaze lava birds, and a huge, relentless knight, level IV’s harpies had me beat. Trying and failing and trying again, I eventually gave up the fight and hit the sack, never quite feeling frustrated, but borderline.

The fact that I immersed myself back in this parallel universe first thing the next morning tells you that my enjoyment trumped any niggling frustration. And then, well, we’ve all been there: Wake up the next morning and on the second attempt, you’re through. Just like that. Fresh eyes, fresh reflexes, and hello level V. More Greek mythology to vanquish.

Everything about The Curse of Issyos is an exacting tribute to the 8-bit era. So much so that on an Apple TV my widescreen is diminished to a 4:2 ratio, and all that’s missing is the timber cabinet around the telly. Those old things were a genuine piece of furniture on which things could be sat, such as ornaments, or my beloved pipe collection which used to stare back at me through the second half of the ’90s while below, Cloud kept the cathode ray tube warm by taking the fight to Shinra.

This was of course about ten years after The Curse of Issyos released in that sliding door universe.

After a handful of bouts with level V’s charging snakes, exploding bats and reanimated stone knights, with no doubt Medusa to contend with at the temple’s end, I figured it’s time to stop and savour it a little. According to the App Store notes there are seven levels in total, with a hidden one that can change the game’s outcome, so probably a couple more sessions of learning patterns, timing and enemy traits. Time now then to share these thoughts with you before jumping back into the dual time machine/wormhole.

Gryzor87 has provided the tunes for The Curse of Issyos, with his melodic chips and bit-crushed bleeps completing the 2015 game’s reinvention on Apple devices.

The Curse of Issyos is playable across all sized screens, with iCloud saving taking your progress from iPhone to iPad to Apple TV, but it’s Apple TV that completes the illusion. With a controller in hand, pre-’90s gaming is yours to enjoy in a game you’ve never played.

Will you prefer the sword or the spear? The sword feels a little quicker, but I like the safety of distance the spear provides. And if the situation allows, range attacks via bow and arrow are opportunities you definitely want to take, although sparingly, as arrows are in short supply.

The trailer below showcases The Curse of Issyos on iPhone, complete with Game Boy trimmings, and if you like what you see, you can pre-order it right here on the App Store as a universal purchase so that come April 30, you too can start your series of deaths on the way to level VII.

If you want in on the retro action right now, Abylight also has Cursed Castillia available for Apple TV, which looks like it was pulled from the same wormhole as upcoming Issyos.

Okay then, see you on the other side.

If you’re new to The Apple TV Gaming Blog (ATVG), or just new to Apple TV gaming in general, or both, then the best place to get acquainted is our Best Apple TV Games of 2020 article. You’ll find a great collection of games to play, and a bunch of useful links to our previous site content. Welcome aboard. Enjoy the ride.