Review by PeTeRL90
"Not for everyone, but it's still the next cult hit."
If you were to ask the question "Hey, have you heard about Odin Sphere?" a few months ago, the answer you probably would've gotten is either "No" or "Odin Sphere? What's that?" Odin Sphere was probably one of the most anticipated games that were under the radar, and the most rabid fans of the RPG genre knew about the existence of this game months before it came out. Those months felt like years, but the game was finally released May 17 in Japan, and then 5 days later in the United States. So did the game live up to the hype? Yes.
The first thing you'll notice when you start Odin Sphere are the wonderful graphics. Each character and enemy are hand drawn, and whoever drew these characters deserves some kind of medal because these are some of the most beautiful graphics you'll see on the PS2. Just like the characters, the environments are also gorgeous and just pop out from the screen and some of the bosses are just huge and gorgeous. However, these environments are recycled over and over again throughout the game, so while they may become duller overtime, there's no denying that this is a gorgeous game.
Another strong point with the game is the soundtrack. The soundtrack is composed by the same man who composed Final Fantasy XII's soundtrack. There are a lot of orchestrated tracks in this game, and just about all of these tracks, including the non-orchestral ones, are just superb. Some of the tracks are so powerful and fit in so well with the theme of the game and with the current mood. The voice acting is also great. Atlus is known for its great VAing cast and production, and Odin Sphere is no different. While it's not perfect, it's still great and each VA portrays their character perfectly.
As you can probably already tell by looking at any videos or screenshots, Odin Sphere is a 2D Action RPG. The way the game executes is just brilliant. You'll visit different areas, and each area has a map for you to explore. Each map has two shops and 10 fights, including the end boss of that map. Each section of the map (let alone for the shops and mini bosses) has a difficulty rating and a prize for you once you complete that section. Each section of the map will contain enemies for you to attack and at the end of each fight, you'll be ranked according to how much time it took to complete the area and how much damage you took.
This may sound like a run of the mill type of game, but Odin Sphere is actually a great challenge. The game discourages any running straight into a mob of enemies as you'll get killed easily that way. Instead of running into a fray of enemies, you're left to think out a tactic and separate the enemies to take them down as quickly as possible. However, the problem with this is that it does get kind of repetitive after awhile, so some people may lost interest with this part of the game, but if you do decide to stick around, there's a challenge to be found here.
There are two different levels for you to gain in Odin Sphere: Psypher and HP. Your HP level is obviously your Hit Points. Each time you eat food, you'll gain a certain amount of experience points. Once you reach the total of experience needed for the next level, your Maximum HP will increase. Your Psypher level is pretty much your attack level. In order to increase your Psypher level, you have to suck in Phozons, or souls from the enemies oyu kill, to level it up. As you suck in Phozons, your Psypher skill meter will also increase. This is used to use magic that each character has. If you push the triangle button during battles, you'll notice a list of magic and how much Psypher points those spells cost. Using these only adds to the strategic value. Along with those, you have your POW Meter. Whenever you attack, your POW Meter will decrease little by little. If your POW Meter runs out, you'll be dazed for a little while, which leaves you open for attacks. This prevents you from being overpowered as you'll need to conserve your attacks if you're just mashing the attack button. Standing still for a few seconds will refill the POW Meter.
You'll notice that seeds often come out of chests as you venture further into the game. You can plant these seeds to grow fruit and even sheep. In order to grow fruit, you need to plant it into the ground and let it absorb Phozons to make it grow. Once it fully blooms, it'll sprout fruit that you need to knock off and pick up. This is an important part of the game early on as this will help with HP Levels when you're just starting out. Fruit is also used in recipes that you can find. Whenever you find a recipe, you're able to cook those dishes in the Pooka Village as long as you have the ingredients and coin needed to make the dish. These also help in leveling, and is a vital part of the game.
What makes the game great is that you get to play as five different characters, each with their own unique personality and their own story. Some of the stories take place before the others, but if you really pay attention to the story in a game, you'll realize how well thought out each story was. The story telling was great and the stories themselves were just as strong. Each character also has their own set of moves and their own different weapon, so taking an approach during each of their areas are different and require different tactics to survive battles.
While there isn't exactly that much replay value to the game, you can go back to the final book after completing it and play through it again in a different order to view all sorts of different endings, in which some are just downright depressing. Another thing that can be unlocked and adds challenge is the Heroic mode, which is enabled after collecting all texts and recipes in the game. This mode never raises your HP past 90, so if you're looking for a great challenge, this is right up your alley. The game itself can be pretty lengthy too ranging anywhere from 40-70 hours, so you'll have a lot on your hands.
All in all, Odin Sphere is an excellent addition to the Playstation 2 library, but the game isn't for everyone. If you're someone who is looking for a button masher, or a game that's easy to play, you may want to look somewhere else. Anyone looking for a game with strategic value but don't mind a bit of repetitiveness, this game is for you. Either way, Odin Sphere is most likely the next Cult hit, and since the game is published by Atlus, you better get your copy while you still can.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/29/07
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