Mania Grade: A-
0 Comments | Add
Rate & Share:
- Platform: PS2
- ESRB: T
- Genre: Action RPG
- Players: 1
- Online: No
- Developer: Vanillaware
- Publisher: Atlus
- Suggested Retail: $39.99
- Graphics: A
- Sound: B+
- Gameplay: A-
- Replay: B
- Fun Factor: A
- Reviewer's Wild Card: A-
By Captain Gordon Edward
June 25, 2007
Every once in a while you are totally shocked and surprised by a videogame. Games generally have plenty of hype behind them, which can make one a little sceptical towards all releases. Even screenshots of games can peek interest in the back of one’s mind, so it really comes down to playing the game before things are put to rest. Odin Sphere had just that kind of hype behind it, but perhaps that was all in my head. For me the storyline sounded interesting, but what interested me the most were the graphics. Even in 2D the game delivered eye candy that could make an art student weak in the knees.
The game starts off with a young lady in a chair reading a book. Immediately the game thrusts you into an epic Valkyrie battle where one lady breathes her final breath. Griselda, a war hero, lies upon the ground calling out in an attempt to speak with her sister Gwendolyn. Griselda tells her that she is not afraid of going into the night, for she died doing what every Valkyrie must... Serving Odin. With her last breath she gives her sister a Psypher spear, which happened to be a key to her power. But Gwendolyn is not pleased with her death and speaks over the corpse that she will be joining her sister soon. But this is but an opening act, and from here the story weaves in and out of four other books to provide a full serving of enjoyment. Each book has you play as a different wielder of a Psypher weapon, and experiencing the different characters helps provide the full Earth shattering story.
Moving onto the game mechanics, as previously mentioned this is a 2D game, which means it is a side scroller. It could easily be compared to the style of Legend of Mana, as in it is also an action RPG. Here you will navigate circular worlds while battling foes, before moving your way to the end of the chapters. Characters attack with limited combos, as well as special movies, which are generally used to defeat enemies. But there is a power bar that limits the amount of attacks that they can attempt without taking moments to rest. If they absorb Phozons, which are most commonly found from slain enemies, they can cast magical attacks. Magical attacks range in levels and costs, which can do things like turning your character invisible or emiting Phozon blasts. As players absorb Phozons they may move up magical levels while refilling their bar. Combat can be quite difficult, even on the easiest level, but there are a few ways to make it easier, and we will get to them in a bit.
The game features a bit of alchemy, where characters can mix other specific items with material to create new items. These battle items generally cause damage to the opponents, but they may also create healing items as well. Material gain levels as they are fed seeds, which ultimately changes what they turn into when mixed with Mandragoras. Material can also be mixed with other material to multiply their levels together, which can be very important. For material to be useful though, they need a catalyst to turn into something new. They must be mixed with Mandragoras, which are creatures found on most levels below the ground. Characters acquire them by walking around the map until they hear a squeak emanating from the ground, which indicates that they must jump on the spot to reveal them. After they have been revealed players must convert them to items by attacking them. Successfully created items made from material and Mandragoras release Phozons for the main character to absorb or to create food.
Items serve a major purpose in this game, since you acquire power from them. The main way you achieve that power is by consuming food. Food is the driving force behind replenishing health, but also increasing your health limits. The main way of acquiring food is by planting seeds, which require a certain amount of Phozons before growing into maturity. They are very important to help your character grow, and if you do not eat plenty of food you will become outmatched quite often.
Overall the entire levelling system works out quite nicely, since you need to gain levels by many different means. At first it can be a little annoying, but you can quickly find the best way to take advantage of the system. Players may have a few problems with the inventory system early on, since you can easily become overstocked with items depending on how well you battle enemies, but your inventory space increases as you progress through the game if you buy extra bags. General equipment was fairly limiting though, which only allowed for a lone item to be equipped.
I will also mention that navigating the levels was an interesting experience, as each realm features multiple starred areas, which indicate the difficulty. Difficulty generally means just the amount of enemies that must be defeated before moving to the next area. Upon revisiting older areas players may experience minor enemy attacks, but nothing like the original visit. Areas were circular, which means you could circle one multiple times before choosing your exit, and generally there were multiple options. This means there were many paths to take to the end boss, even forcing you to go through a few minor bosses, and if you went through each of the levels you would earn extra items. This helped extend gameplay by forcing you to explore every area for the maximum rewards.
Graphically this game is gorgeous, as should any 2D RPG should be. Creatures range from being frog size to taking up over an entire screen. Each creature is intricately made and it works very well with the overall style of the game. It is a style that can either be enjoyed while playing or watching from the sidelines. There is only a minor issue with the fluentness of the sprites, but even that helps to develop the storybook style that the game is based around. For sound, characters speak with great emotion and it that helps you connect with them. Background music helps fill in the theme to create a vivid and full world. The game forces you to listen to the voices, but you have the option of doing so in either English or Japanese. At the same time though every line is voiced, which is a mini accomplishment for an Atlus game.
In the end, this is not only a fantastic action game, but also a fantastic RPG. They fit together beautifully, and it is only of my favourite action RPGs of all time. This game should be able to satisfy any fan of role-playing games, and I strongly recommend that you, the person reading this article right now, pick the game up immediately. Indeed parts of the action system were a little weak, but the overall mechanics make up for that in stride. It provides a good difficulty level, and can be adjusted depending on the challenge you desire. In short it is a great game to play. Wrapping up, Captain Gordon gives Odin Sphere an A-.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? CaptainGordonEdward@Gmail.com