Review by GreenKnight127
Alright, let's do this!
If this game is anything, it is definitely beautiful. Very lush colors, beautiful sprites, lighting effects, backgrounds, enormous bosses, character animations, and jiggly female bits.....everything to be seen was truly wonderful. I have a fond appreciation for 2D games, and seeing previews, reviews, and screenshots of this game prior to it's release had me set in stone that there was no way they could ruin something that was so aesthetically lovely.
Then I played it.
From massive amounts of slow-down, to insanely weak characters, I quickly found myself not enjoying the game so much. I gave it a chance, and tried desperately to see the good in the game, but I was continuously let-down. You play through the game as 5 main characters, who all have similar fighting mechanics. People like to claim that each character is unique, but they are quite mistaken. They all LOOK different, and they all have different voice actors.....but that's where the differences end. Plus, your characters have "unique" abilities known as Psypher Skills, which do things such as allow you to be invisible, cause an explosion that kills most enemies around you, heal yourself (extremely slowly) while standing in one spot, release phozon energy (to help plants grow), oh, and don't forget cyclone! These abilities CAN come in handy (because your regular attacks don't always do the deed)...only problem, is that all 5 characters have nearly the same psypher abilities! There might be only 3 totally unique ones in the game: a slightly more powerful charged shot with the Fairy, the Shadow Knight form for the....err...Shadow Knight.....and Shadow Ally for the Valkyrie. Shadow Ally is great, but unless you really go out of your way to level build, you probably will beat the game without even unlocking it.
So considering there are 5 different playable characters in the game, one would think the game developers would add more variety to the fighting mechanics, but they simply do not do this at all. On top of that, each level is simply a "circle" that you run around in (think of Atari's Defendroid...if you keep flying, eventually you come back to the area you just left). Kill all the enemies in that circle, and the mission is over! Take a different room to link to another "circle" room, kill all enemies.....and you move on! Rinse and repeat. Eventually you fight a boss....(which also takes place in a "circle" room.
The bosses can be fun, but sometimes they are more frustrating than enjoyable (especially some of the later ones). Not to mention the pitiful amounts of slow-down this game has. DID I MENTION THE SLOW-DOWN!?!? One would think that a PS2 game being made LATE in the console's lifetime.....would have bugs such as SLOW-DOWN....in a TWO-DIMENSIONAL game...worked out. But ohhhh, how wrong we were! Odin sphere has some of the worst slow-down for a game of it's kind. One particular boss battle comes to mind, in which the slow-down is so horrible, it is borderline unplayable.
Also, the game is mostly designed to be an action RPG, you run around killing enemies, clear the room, and move on. So with that, you would assume the developers would want to stress the FUN and importance of battle. Right? Right? Wrong. The more you attack (whether you are actually hitting an enemy or not), a gauge in the corner of the screen slowly empties. Once it empties you get a berserker-ultimate-limit-break-attack!!!!!!!.....right? Wrong. You get thrown into a frozen state of "I'm ready to die"ness. You can't attack, you can't even move!!! Thankfully, the developers weren't toooo cruel, and you can still absorb phozons (if there are any floating around), which can refill your gauge....but during certain boss fights, you won't have that luxury.
The story is pretty intricate, being woven from different points of view with the 5 different characters, and while it is enjoyable (and at times quite dark), it will quickly become tiresome, and the cutscenes dragged out and repetitive....that you will more than likely stop caring. Eventually you start wondering the motivation behind these characters, because they all seem to have the mindsets of 13 year olds who aren't getting what they want. If you really step back and realize half of what's happening, you might find yourself laughing at just how ridiculous the story gets....especially when you watch the Shadow Knight fall in "love" with one of the characters.....while she is asleep....and has never even had a conversation with him up to that point. I swear, videogame's portrayal of "love" is always the most hilarious thing in the world.
For the most part, the controls are pretty responsive, but each character has their typical 3-hit combos....which always end with you being exposed to an attack for much longer than is comfortable. Also, in combination with the plentiful amounts of slow-down, this impacts the controls greatly....and you sometimes might hit "jump" and 2 seconds later, your character will finally start jumping, which can kill you....and WILL kill you often. The controls almost go hand-in-hand with the way the game runs, and since the game doesn't run that well, the controls suffer immensely as a result.
To be honest, the sound wasn't all that memorable for me. The music is pretty similar throughout the entire game, and the sound effects for attacks and explosions are standard fare. Nothing pops at you. There is nothing at all in the game that would make you want to go out and get the Odin Sphere Soundtrack. If there even is one.
After completing a character's "book" you can replay their entire story with all the experience you ended with, so you will be a powerhouse and be able to breeze through the game. Only problem is.....why would you want to? The game was a 4/10 at best. Not to mention there isn't anything unlockable, and each character has pretty substantial quests to begin with. The ice world is like playing the fire world, only the color red more dominantly on the screen than blue. The jungle level is like playing the desert level....except the color green is more dominant than brown. There is nothing unique about any of the levels besides their colors. Why would I want to revisit them?
Of course there are always things to like about a game, but for Odin Sphere, there was more to be annoyed by than pleased by. And I still can't stress enough to lack of professionalism with the creation of this game. For the amount of slow-down, load times, and lack of variety among characters in a game made so late in the Playstation 2's lifetime, there is almost no excuse for any of it.
Rent it first.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 01/11/08
Game Release: Odin Sphere (US, 05/22/07)
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