There is little debate to be had about the popularity of nordic mythology in video games. From the Tales series to Age of Mythology, it has been iterated so much - with varying degrees of artistic license - that it has become a staple of the collective idea pool from which game creators take their influences. Originally released in 2007, Odin Sphere is among those titles. The freshman effort of former Atlus employees now regrouped under the name Vanillaware, was, back in its day, given strong reviews. While its plot was engrossing and its audio-visual makeup beautiful, its gameplay now - especially in the face of the similar Muramasa and Dragon's Crown - seems clunky and unpolished, making the game a chore to play through. Nine years later, the game was remade and dubbed "Leifthrasir", calling back to the man who was placed inside the roots of the World Tree Yggdrasil after the old world was destroyed in Ragnarök. What makes the new version a strong improvement over the original is that its gameplay has been completely revamped while keeping the original narrative intact. Traversal has now embraced elements of verticality with occasional puzzles and exploration becoming more important as well. The characters also now bring their own sets of combat skills, making them more distinguished as a result, and the leveling system which formerly included two levels - one for the character, one for their weapon - was relegated to one level only. Combat is very fluid, taking on a speed usually found in Musou games or 2D fighting games, which makes the gameplay an all-around joy - Vanillaware even went so far as to ensure constant 60fps. If I had to pinpoint the one thing I liked the most about the game though, it would definitely be the overall quality of its writing and story. There are instances where I felt the game could easily wander into all-out cringe territory and then... didn't. The plot revolves around five characters through whose stories the player has to go through one after another, every story revealing progressively more about the events on the continent of Erion before and during the game, expanding the scope of the events and making them all supremely vivid. In terms of individual stories, the first, "Valkyrie", is the one I liked best, focusing on its main character's inner emotional turmoil a little more than the others, though the rest is not mired in exposition either. The piecemeal narrative works astonishingly well, probably the best of its kind - next to Dragon Quest IV - in that the revelations are teased early and worked towards incrementally, ditching the necessity of a final "twist" for its own sake early on. It works superbly and as a sucker for structuralism in narratives, I applaud George Kamitani's efforts loudly. It also helps that the game looks and sounds amazing. The game is rife with visually memorable areas - from snowy Winterhorn Ridge to the lush Forests of Elrit - backed by a strong score from Hitoshi Sakimoto's team at Basiscape (including FF Tactics composer Masaharu Iwata). The only negative I've read is that the game is too easy, but I found the difficulty more than appropriate enough, though I would forgo playing the game on the lowest difficulty. In short, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is a true delight. If you are still looking for a game to play until the wave of jRPG comes crashing down starting in September, this game is highly recommended. Without a doubt one of the best RPG releases of the year so far.