Review by piecemealcranky
"A review for those who have not played 2-D games, ever."
I've never been a fan of 2-D games, and to be honest Odin Sphere is one of the first in its genre that I've spent the most time playing. It definitely changed my view of these games alike, and completely captured my interest to play these games, despite its (minor) flaws that surface from time to time.
Odin Sphere can and will be a fun experience for both 2-D lovers RPG fans.
The plot has not been the best feature the game has for me, but it certainly proves to be my main objective of continuing the game to finish. Odin Sphere's plot is divided into chapters in a fairytale book read by a small girl in the game. You start out with Valkyrie, a book which tells the story of a girl named Gwendolyn, the daughter of King Odin. In later chapters you will unlock a different book and play as different characters as you unlock more. A total of five characters are in for your control.
I do not know much about the plot thus far, so I better not exaggerate on the story that I cannot deprive of later. Just like other 2-D games, the game has dialogue-like boxes as the characters speak. The story is nothing puzzling or perplexing at all; simple but not moronic, at least in fairytales...
I gave it a 9 because I love the gameplay in most of its base aspects. You are able to cast spells, do combo attacks, chain them, double jump, glide and even plant trees. This game certainly is simple in its combat and fights. Although sometimes when you fight you'll come across problems when you're cornered or facing a tough foe. Sometimes the spell button just doesn't come up when you repeatedly press the button and you'll later discover that you need to stop for a bit before you could bring up the menu. That's what happened to me, anyway.
A tutorial is given to the players for the main aspects of the game, such as mixing various things to form tools, a process called alchemy. If that is given, then certainly you are also guided through the basic movements, etc. You may choose to change the difficulty of the game at any time, and modify the dialogue boxes for the fun of it or if you really can't see through the default black colour.
Odin Sphere has the basic RPG feel for the mathematical side of it. So far in my play, the maps are stretched like many other 2-D games, with the level rolled open endlessly and the map is drawn in circles. The areas are very much simple to be honest, and a small virtual screen where the character stands in the middle of it is shown in the top of the screen. This will help the players to determine where the enemies are coming from, or if they wish to perform an attack from the rear side. The enemies are not shown in the map though, but considering the size of an area, you will expect to see an enemy sooner or later.
When a foe appears, a timer starts. This will evaluate you on your ability to dispatch enemies, and how quickly you may do so. Another component that is used to evaluate your ranking includes the damage bonus you receive, etc. Furthermore, the game does not allow your character to continuously pound the enemy. Sooner or later, a bar on the top (left) of the screen will turn red. This bar, the POW bar will decrease as you do combos or chain your hits, or even continuously attack the enemies. Once this is completely consumed your character goes to an exhausted state, and will not be able to move until it charges back up again. Players are warned by a warning sound that is emitted when you're about to run out of your POW. There are items to help you in these situations, such as speed up the POW regeneration and so on.
You cannot carry too many items at once, so you may stock up with necessary items as you see fit. You can easily drop items, pick a new one, or sell them or buy an extra container to hold your extra items you wish to carry. When buying items, you will be using different currency and different values for each of them. The money you pick up through your journey highly depends on the enemy, the stage and the rank you obtain.
Everytime you defeat foes in a stage, an evaluation screen surfaces to the right side of the screen and tallies your point and awards you a proper rank. This determines the rewards you will reap, which comes in a treasure chest that drops from the sky after you are ranked. The rewards may be random so I'm not exactly sure but expect your rewards to be of a higher standard as you gain better rankings for stage.
When you're off from a battleground, and you are able to visit another area, you may revisit the old battleground to gain additional money or venture through areas you missed. This will help you in tight situations I'm sure. The game can drastically become harder and you may come across sub-bosses at any time, sometimes more than once in an area, so yes there will be many battles and you may be forced to revisit old areas again to gain experience or money.
Every stage in the game is given a scale to assess its difficulty level. The more stars a level is assessed, the harder it will be for players to achieve better ranks. Also expect these areas to be full of tough opponents and battles. This will give you choices whether or not you will be able to go through the level in your current condition, so you may take alternative paths. Simply bring up the menu with the L1 button to plan your route.
Like I mentioned, a stage in an area is completely circular. Although you seem to be walking straight endlessly, you are actually making a circle around the map, and you will reach where you stood seconds ago if you circle an area. This won't affect your gameplay, I hope. Although it seems pointless to circle a map, you will find its uses when you encounter a stage boss or enemies you wish to attack from different sides. Believe me, it will help you greatly. I believe this is a really great feature Odin Sphere possesses because it delivers multiple methods to do combat with the opponents.
Possibly the most basic and significant feature you learn at the start of the game is the ability to power up your weapon. The first character, Gwendolyn, carries a spear where an object is placed at the tip of the weapon. When you defeat foes, their bodies disappear and leave a trace of its spirit or soul. This is referred to as Phozons in Odin Sphere, and they are essential to your survival in battles. You need Phozons to cast spells and various other uses. By simply holding the R1 button you take in these Phozons for your own use. Also, you will learn of its uses as you progress, and how it will be essential for your survival.
Of course, every game is not perfect in its own form, and this game is no exception. Apart from (possibly) difficult moments to blend in with the controls while fighting enemies, the game lags when you start to perform combo hits to many enemies at once. This is a little lag though, so no harm shaking off your worry in this one.
The graphics are gorgeous, especially if you're a fan of 2-D games with colourful backgrounds. Of course they still keep the cartoon-ish look, but still apart from that the rendered backgrounds are superb. The girls in the game are all hotties, and the generals and the low-class soldiers all look like donkeys. But isn't that how we want them to look like? Despite the malicious difference between the two kinds, the clothing they were matched with really.... matches! Your character is probably the person best set as an example here. You cannot change your clothes though, I'm afraid.
Odin Sphere doesn't have outstanding graphics but it is an essential feature that will drive you to either like it or hate it.
I have no complains thus far for the sounds. The music is really good; battle themes come in and go, a peaceful theme escapes in the air to change the mood... The voices are also no exception. You can choose to hear the spoken dialogues in either English or Japanese, but the interface remains as it is in English. Both languages were dubbed well, and this gives complete freedom to players to change this option at any time during gameplay.
First of all, renting is advised if you do not wish to wager your money on 2-D games like these. But doing research on Odin Sphere will tell you that this is one of the better games in its genre today. You don't see a well-made classic game like this nowadays anymore, and it is better to grab one before they are hard to find. Although I do recommend a rental, it is of no doubt qualifies for a buy. I love the gameplay of the game, the plot's so-so, and all other aspects are nothing short of magnificent. If you've never played a 2-D RPG game before, may Odin Sphere be your first... or last you'll ever be satisfied with.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/04/07
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