Review by joan2468

"Amazing surface, Interesting Soul, Horrible Core"

Odin Sphere is one of those games that presents a good first impression mainly because of its breathtaking and beautiful 2-Dimensional graphics. It has a captivating and interesting story, but if one were to look past the gorgeous graphics and interesting plot, one would find a rather repetitive and frustrating game. A collaboration of Atlus and Vanillaware, Odin Sphere's surface will mislead fellow gamers into thinking that the game itself is as beautiful as the graphics are. Don't get me wrong - the game isn't bad. It's just not good either.

Story (8/10) : You know, I'm a total fan of great big fantasy plots, and Odin Sphere has one. There are five protagonists, all of which you will be able to play. Each protagonists' tale is told storybook style, with each main character having their own book. There is a prophecy that foretells the end of Erion, the world you're playing in. The Psypher wielders are the only ones who can prevent it from happening. Psyphers are special crystals imbued with magic and power, created by the Crystallization Cauldron. Each of the five protagonists wields a Psypher - so I guess you know your main objective right? Stop the end of the world. There are five disasters which will occur when the world's end is near, and each protagonist must stop one disaster. But that's much later. First, you'll have to finish each of their books, which have 10 Chapters each. Everything all connects and pieces together bit by bit until everything beautifully falls into place once you reach the ending. It's also interesting that the characters cross paths with each other. A protagonist in one book can be the hated enemy of another protagonist, and sometimes you even have to fight each other. The story is a great fantasy of love, war, enmity, betrayal, sacrifice and sorrow as well. It's a rather heavy story and get quite dark and serious at some points, but I love it. Plus, you can re-play every scene you've unlocked, so any time you feel like you want to look back on the story, you can just pick up Socrates in Alice's attic and choose any scene you want to view. Nice feature, huh?

Characters (8/10) : You will see a lot of character development. You will be able to know their thoughts, feelings and dreams - everything about them, you'll know in the game. They express a lot of emotion and feeling, and you'll be interested, seeing them as they progress through their stories. They all have their own unique personalities and traits, each character is special in their own way, and all have good reasons as to why they're even part of the game unlike *cough ff12*

Gameplay (3/10) : Ahh yes. Odin Sphere's gameplay. The rocky core beneath its glossy smooth surface. In Odin Sphere, the world is - well - basically, a web of spheres. Each battle arena is a circle - if you walk around the entire length you will eventually end up back where you started. So you spend the game running in circles. Yeah... In each world you move from one sphere to the other after defeating all the enemies in the sphere you're currently in. On the top left of the screen you will notice a radar that shows all the enemies nearby as well as a POW bar. What IS a POW bar you ask? Well, my fellow gamer, that POW bar will be your best friend in this game - not. It's a bar that limits your attacks. You can only attack so long as the bar doesn't decrease until zero. Once it does, your character will be unable to attack and will stand, dizzy, until the bar recharges and you can attack again. Sounds sweet huh? Look at its length, and look at those ENORMOUSLY HUGE BOSSES AND MOBS OF MONSTERS.

You move from sphere to sphere, defeating monsters until you reach the Boss area, a sphere marked with a big B in the centre - the faster you defeat the monsters, the better grade you'll get at the end of the stage. If you get the highest grade (S) you will get some extras in your end-stage reward. After killing an enemy, Phozons will appear. Phozons are basically - well - to put it frankly, souls. You can collect them to charge your Psypher to perform special Psypher attacks, increase your Psypher level, or grow plants. Phozons are also released after you create a potion. Oh yes- the game also features an Alchemy system. With a base material, you will be able to make useful potions by mixing it with other materials such as seeds and mandragoras (which are obtained by stepping on those squeaks you hear in battle grounds then killing the mandragora that pops out). All of the characters have the same Psypher attacks, with the exception of Gwendolyn and Mercedes who have one different one. You need the necessary recipe before you can make the potion, even if you already know the recipe. The recipes are usually found in certain spheres in each world, in each character's story.

You will have access to the Pooka Village where you can gather ingredients and recipes and get the Pookas to cook them for you. Eating cooked food can increase your HP. So if you want to grow strong endurance, you need to invest a lot of time in gathering ingredients and recipes and visiting the Pooka Kitchen/Rabbit Cafe.

To the fun part - the bosses. Most of them are about 10 times the size of your puny protagonist and have at least one cheap attack that will easily KO you if you haven't been eating your meals. At least half the bosses will have you practically throwing your controller away in frustration. You can also get attacked when you are consuming something, which is especially painful for slow eaters like Mercedes (there's even an accessory to make you chew faster!). So picture drinking a potion, the boss attacks, and the potion bottle is knocked away and your health just gets lower. For every boss battle you'll need to bring tons of potions and supplies - which is difficult considering the limited bag space. At the beginning, before you get access to more bags your inventory space is very meager. Once you have the maximum bag space, it still seems meager. So you will need to manage your inventory space wisely.

Addition - most of the game is spent combatting. There are NO. SIDEQUESTS, and no puzzles. You'll spend 80% of the game fighting, fighting, fighting, FIGHTING.

So - that's Odin Sphere's gameplay. Doesn't sound fun to you? I don't blame you.

Control (8/10) : Controls are simple. That's all I have to say.

Graphics (10/10) : Needless to say, the 2D graphics are AMAZING. Every single thing in this game has an incredible amount of detail and colour. Example - the liquid in your potions actually sloshes like real liquid. They didn't have to do that, but they did. The backgrounds are not still, they BREATHE. You can see the leaves move and little bits and details that move as well. You can see your character breathe and fiddle with things or look around if you're not doing anything with them. You've heard it a lot but this time, people do mean it when they say that screenshots DO NOT do this game any justice.

Sounds (7/10) : This game has some good sounds, and some of them are pretty grand-sounding too - whatever it is, the sounds of this game are definitely noticeable, they don't fade into the background. The voice acting is very well done and quite convincing and suitable for the characters.

Replayability (3/10) : Once you're done with this game, it's likely you won't want to touch it again. There aren't many missables either.

Rent or Buy : Rent first. Buy only if you like it.

My Conclusion :

Odin Sphere certainly has amazing graphics. Every little thing in this game is absolutely beautiful. But that and the story is where the good part stops. The graphics are amazing, the story is captivating, but the gameplay, the core of an RPG, the very thing that will take up a large chunk of your time playing this game, is awful. The graphics and story simply aren't enough to cover up for the frustrating, repetitive, unenjoyable gameplay. One can definitely get through the entire game and live to tell the tale, but it's likely that one won't want to go back to it or say that they enjoyed it all.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 10/21/08

Game Release: Odin Sphere (US, 05/22/07)

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