I’m surprised I haven’t done this game earlier. It was about this game (maybe a game or two before) when I really started to notice how much I loved Atlus.
All right, so Odin Sphere. This game puts an all new spin on 2D Adventure RPG games. The story itself is intertwined amongst five different characters, and I’ve only played through about one and a half, so I really can’t give you a thorough story background. Just take my word that its good. :]
The art is what is really captivating. VanillaWare Inc. do all hand drawn sprites and it shows. The backgrounds are lush and full of life, the characters are articulate, and all of the cutscenes are done with voice overs that match the characters’ personalities perfectly. Really, it is all quite breathtaking.
The gameplay is unique too. The concept of ‘square mashing’ is defeated by a POW bar (power bar). Basically, every attack you do depletes that bar. The stronger the attack, the more it depletes. Let it empty, and you will be stunned for a set amount of time. You can mash on the buttons and rotate the joystick for a speedy recovery however. If you do not wish to be stunned, simply not attacking will allow your POW bar to regenerate. Also, being struck by an enemy replenishes it as well.
Your HP is recovered by eating food, but each piece of food has a set EXP value to it. After so much EXP, your HP ‘levels up’ and you gain a larger max HP. This is where strategy comes into play, because if you level your HP up, you also refill your entire bar. Its a very interesting concept.
Your ‘magic’ in this game is called phazon. When you defeat an enemy, plant a phazon plant seed and have it mature, or complete alchemy of sorts, it releases phazon for you to absorb. At the same time, phazon is used to grow plants, so you have to juggle leveling up your phazon (by absorbing it) or leaving it float in the air (for your plants to absorb).
The alchemy in this game runs off a small math system, so basic understanding of it definitely helps (though they do provide you with a brief in game tutorial, in which case a basic understanding on how to read helps). The seed planting is nice, as you can see the plant developing so you always know how much phazon went into the plant.
The maps are run on closed circuit boards meaning that if you run left or right far enough, you will eventually run in a complete circle. This is not a problem, because it helps you from being lost.
There is only one significant err I find within the game: it loads a whole lot. Granted they are not long loads (the first is usually the longest, being at about 5 seconds, and the rest being only a second to a second and a half), but goodness. If you enter a new area, it loads, back track an area, it loads, storyline unfolds, it loads. I think you get the picture. Its not enough to bring the game down though. Not in the least.
The game has many new features that I have not previously seen in any other game, making this an ‘Editor’s Pick’, if you will. I really recommend this to anyone who enjoys an adventure game with RPG elements tied in. Even if you don’t understand those concepts, this game is solid enough for anyone to just pick up and play.
8.5 / 10