Review by Tifanity

"Eye Catching, Mesmerizing, Beautiful: Odin Sphere"

When you read or hear the word Atlus, what comes to mind? Well, if you are a gamer then Ogre Battle, Disgaea and other well known titles might come to mind for one. Creating unique games throughout the years, Atlus brings us games that no other company can match. From comedic characters, to emotional characters to just plain silly characters. Now, we are all treated to a brand new game, Odin Sphere. In this review I will try to not spoil anything regarding the storyline.

The game consists of five main characters, you are playing them as a girl is reading through them as books. Each book concentrates on one character and their story. Throughout your play through, you will meet other main characters on the way. The best thing that I love about this is that all the characters somehow relate to each other one way or another. Even though each have their own individual chapters, acts and endings, they all connect at the end.

Speaking of the characters, just looking at the pictures, reviews, previews, videos and game play, you can tell that the characters were developed beautifully. Each character almost comes to life with their well done voice acting, their unique fighting skills and their unique background. I must say, the artist who drew the characters made the main females exceptionally beautiful.

Now for the story, without much spoilers, a war is going on with different races and regions. Each side has a character that tells their end of the story and the adventures they go through. Sometimes playing with one character, you might begin to hate another, but when you actually play as that character you thought you hated, you might actually like them after understanding their end of the story.

The main attraction of this game is the 2D graphics. The sprites are lifelike, with an anime touch and the scenery is just a view of beauty. The sprites in the game have this realism to it, like the character's reactions to dialogue and situations are incomparable. The detail on each sprite is wonderfully done and very detailed as well. Heavy breathing, sadness, happiness, sorriness are all captured within the main characters and all around them.

The controls are very easy as well. Some might say that this game is just a hack and slash button pressing game. But it really isn't. You have a bar name POW. Each time you attack it goes down. When it goes all the way down, your character becomes dazed and you have to wait until the bar goes up again to regain control. So, button smashing? Not in this game. Besides attacking, you are able to jump. Some characters can double jump, glide and even fly. Some can block and some can do things others can't. That is where the uniqueness of each character comes into play.

All characters can use special attacks that take away another bar. You can refill this bar by collecting phozons. To collect phozons, you either kill enemies or planting certain seeds. To actually gather them, it will remind you of another game like Onimusha where you have to hold down a button to gather the orbs, where in this game it is called Phozons. Gathering these phozons also build up your Psypher bar which will enable you to learn new special attacks and use them effectively.

The most unique thing about this game is the way to level up your characters. It isn't like the other RPG's out there where you kill enemies and you gain experience, no, in this game you have to eat food. Different food will net you different amount of experience. To get food, you either plant seeds to grow them or find recipes and ingredients throughout the game to have them cooked for you. But wait, that isn't all. It's the movement of your character. Besides moving in a standard side scroller, left to right, you are given areas. Each area you complete leads to another. By pressing a button, you are able to bring up a map that shows you the difficulty of the next area and what item you will get by completing it. That is of course, you get the map first, which brings us to...

Items! yes items, how can we forget them? By completing an area, you get a rank. Depending on the rank, you will get a variety of different items. The higher the rank, the better the items. However, no matter what your rank is for that area, you will always get the item shown on the map.

Now comes the things wrong with this game. To start, the music isn't that great, it is pretty boring and there are no memorable music at all. Well maybe in the first chapter as you are Gwendolyn at her castle. I think by now if you follow my reviews, you would know that music in a game is very essential to me and this game doesn't have any that I like.

The other thing is mostly what other games complain about, the loading time and the slowdown. Depending on the cut scene or the battle you are about to fight in, the loading will take a certain time. For example, if you are just traveling from one location to another, it will load fast. However, if you travel to another location that has a boss or mini boss, it will take awhile to load. Sometimes I find myself thinking the game froze since it loaded so long. As for the slowdown, when there are too many sprites on the screen, you get a lag. Sort of like Dynasty Warriors/Samurai Warriors games. This is proof that the PS2 is being pushed to its limit with this game. But hardcore fans will get by it better than new players experiencing it.

Finally, the other thing that isn't as great and this is mostly a fact. The difficulty of the game. When you first begin the game, you are given three choices, easy, normal and hard. Most of us chose normal, but what this game makes you do is, level up a lot. There will be some battles that you are very under leveled and you will find it frustrating. What do you have to do? Revisit old places you have beaten already and plant seeds to eat lots of food to level up. This is a great way to get gold in the game and familiar yourself with the game's mechanics.

Well, I think that covers it without spoiling much. Although this review wasn't short like I thought it would be, I hope you found it useful. So, in closing, rent or buy? This is the tough part. To begin, this game is already a rare gem. The company that distributes this game didn't make a lot, just like other games like Disgaea. We here in the states have a different fan base for games like these and to save money, they don't make too many of them. Many people are having difficult times just finding this game in common places like, Ebgames, Gamestop and even Bestybuy and Circuit City. This game is rare, you can argue with me all day, it is.

However, if you don't like RPGs in general, avoid this game. If you want a fast hack-n-slash game, this is not for you. There are a lot of reading, a lot of repeating the same fights, same routes and a lot of patience is required for this game. If you can't do any of the stuff I listed nor have the patience, avoid this game at all costs. This game will take a lot of your time, it is all up to you on how much time you want to give it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/11/07

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