Review by almostexactly
"A myth is a religion in which no one any longer believes."
The fantasy-style, 2-D Odin Sphere world is beautiful. Winterhorn Ridge's sky is filled with aurora borealis and Nebulapolis is constantly showered with shooting stars. Light-emitting butterflies can be found worldwide.
Even while standing still, characters aren't static: fluttering, yawning, stretching, or just breathing. Characters are colorful and distinctive, attacked by goblins, griffins, ghosts, snowflakes, titanic-sized warriors and kings, tiny vegetables on two legs that breath fire, and the infamous trash dragon.
Cutscenes are thankfully skippable through the Start menu.
The music score is impressive and catchy though without the grandeur of an authentic fully orchestrated sound.
Character stories are selected through the book the player commands Alice to pick up. The story is entirely linear and character stories must unfold in order. All cutscenes are rewatchable by picking up Socrates or reviewing the Story option while in a character book.
The core detail is that weapon experience is gained through absorbing the souls of your defeated enemies, phozons. To increase your health, you must plant foods that also consume phozons and eat that food for experience. Cooked food is better then raw, so gathering materials and eating them at a restaurant nets better health experience then weapon experience.
Basically, defeating enemies doesn't automatically net you experience but rather they drop experience. By collecting fallen phozons, you fill a magic gauge that allows you cast spells.
Because of the action RPG element, battles can get crowded and crazy. The Power meter prevents the player from spamming attack. Each attack consumes a bar in the Pow meter and an empty Pow meter leaves you dizzy and vulnerable. Refilling the Pow meter can be done by either ceasing to attack or jump or absorbing nearby phozons.
The second major gameplay element is Alchemy. Material, a component necessary to all Alchemy recipes, is commonly dropped and having excess Material is often more a problem then running out of Material, since space is often limited until you can afford the more expensive bags. Experimentation isn't encouraged since you cannot alchemize any item that you don't know the recipe for.
You are graded on every mission you complete based on damage taken and time taken. It doesn't have any bearing on any final game score or any special secrets achieved only by getting high scores. Rather, it determines which item you'll receive if you perform better. The stage's promised reward will always drop, even upon receiving the lowest score. Earning a high score mostly nets you extra money and food.
There are two major problems with Odin Sphere.
1) The repetition. You will revisit many locations and fight some of the same bosses with different characters.
2) Loading and lag. So this is what it takes to make a 2-D game on the PS2 lag. Not only the Queen of Lag, but several other stages will have noticeable slowdown that will definitely affect the playing experience. It's almost a problem of control when you've mashed the attack button five times and only hit once. And it's a bit of an irritation that the kitchen, an essential part to raising your HP, takes so long to load.
However, I really adored the game. The music, the English voice-acting, and the visuals all added some dramatic flair to the game and the gameplay was fast and addictive.
Dying does not reset to the last save point but rather to the start of the level. There's a constant feeling of being close to defeating a boss if your reaction time was a bit better, if you didn't screw up in a crucial moment, if you mixed the right items or if you timed the use of your food and healing items better. Having the option to skip cutscenes also helps immensely if you decide to backtrack to better prepare.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 08/15/07
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