Review by spankythesloth
"Like viewing a Picaso with beer goggles."
Let me start off by saying the game is definitely worth a play-through. The game's problems do not outweigh it's graces, but I wouldn't go buying it unless you're a die-hard fan of the Action RPG.
Graphics: 10/10 The game is absolutely beautiful. The game is in 2D, so you can't really go wrong, where as with 3D the general objective is to make things as real as possible. Quite frankly the game is a work of art. The dragons scales are filled with many different colors, the sorcerers and goblins quite whimsical, and the characters intricate and beautiful.
Sound: 8/10 The main theme which recurs on the world map and several other instances, is very enchanting, and highly memorable. This is the only noteworthy piece however, as most of the other songs are average.
Gameplay: 5/10 Here's where everything goes wrong. The game is riddled with massive amounts of 'slow down' as other gamers have called it. Many boss fights are sluggish due to the amount of sprites on screen, making dodging near impossible. If this game were a highly detailed 3D game like Final Fantasy XII (Even with it's stunning graphics I didn't notice any slow down), some slow down would probably be acceptable. However this game is 2D, meaning there is no excuse. Frankly I don't see how it's even possible for a 2D game to have slow down. Then there's the load times. Again, if this game were 3D I could deal with the load times. But having to wait 7 seconds to load a single screen sized room, is absolutely ridiculous. I'm talking specifically about the Pooka village. The whole village is screen sized, which is in itself a disappointment. Then the cafe, and the restaurant are both screen sized, yet you spend 7 seconds each time you enter or exit them. It should have been simple to make them all one area and eliminate the loading, but sadly if you forget to buy an ingredient for a recipe, you have to suffer through extra load times.
There's several other minor flaws and nuances that add up, including the POW gauge, poorly designed inventory, and the pointless leveling. The POW gauge is a concept not unique to this game, and does add a degree of difficulty, but it is more of an annoyance than a challenge to be stunned and open to attacks for 5 seconds after 3 chain attacks. In addition, jumping will stop the POW gauge from recharging, and sometimes enemy attacks are not avoidable by just moving side to side, so you often have to jump away from all the enemies and then wait for the gauge to recharge. The inventory consists of up to 6 bags that each hold up to 8 items, shown one bag at a time with items in a ring. It gets annoying switching from bag to bag to find certain items when using alchemy. You can view your entire inventory by pressing R2, which is useful for organizing items or changing out bags, but you can't use or combine items from this screen, which forces you to bag shuffle. Then there's the leveling. Arguably the most important part of an RPG. Usually if you spend a lot of time 'grinding' or killing enemies over and over again to gain levels, you will be much stronger. This is not the case. Apart from learning new special skills, leveling is absolutely pointless. Monsters seem to deal damage as a percentage of your health rather than a set value, so your hit points go up but the monsters then do more damage. In some instances the enemies damage seems excessively high. Most enemies do damage equal to about 1/10th or less of your health, but some can do damage equal to over half of your health. Considering you get bonus items for taking little damage, this had me restarting the level quite often.
The gameplay wasn't a complete bust though. I liked the system of absorbing phozons which appear from killing enemies or creating alchemy potions. The alchemy system was also unique, although creating a high level potion can be time consuming as you have to combine things several times, and when you combine items the result drops on the ground so you have to go pick it up and find it in your inventory again. I liked that food gives you XP which raises your hit points, although this was pretty pointless as I explained earlier. Perhaps if I wasn't a fan of action RPGs my score would have been even lower, however to me the gameplay was enjoyable.
This game could have been epic, but the large amounts of slow down and sometimes cheesy dialogue ruined this masterpiece. I'm seven words short so I added this sentence.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/18/09
Game Release: Odin Sphere (US, 05/22/07)
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