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Review: Odin Sphere Leifthrasir (PS3, PS4, Vita)

Discussion in 'RPG Discussion' started by AnGer-dono, Jul 22, 2016.

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  1. AnGer-dono

    AnGer-dono ShinRa SOLDIER

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    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.
     
  2. Chocobocoholic

    Chocobocoholic Yevonite

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    I heard about this game, but I never played it. Your review made me take a trip to the PS Store, and there's a demo! I just played through it, and I enjoyed it. I used the character Cornelius, who zips around the battlefield with his sword and magic combo. The gameplay felt quite satisfying, and like you said above, the music and environments seem great. I can't comment on the narrative because there isn't any in the demo, but your review + this demo makes me want to know more about it. I'll definitely pick this up at some point in the future, but need to get through Persona 4 Golden first. I'll give the other characters a go at some point as well, and get a feel for the other playstyles.

    What platform did you play this on?
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2016
  3. AnGer-dono

    AnGer-dono ShinRa SOLDIER

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    I played it on my PS Vita - a really satisfying experience, especially considering that a lot of games that run on both home consoles and Vita end up with the Vita version being inferiour.
     
  4. Chocobocoholic

    Chocobocoholic Yevonite

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    I played the demo on Vita, too. It does feel really smooth. I might download the demo on PS4 just to see how the two compare, but I'll more than likely purchase the full version on Vita.
     
  5. BladeRunner

    BladeRunner Chocobo Knight

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    Great review! I was going to play it but I have too many games to finish right now, so I decided to wait for a price drop.
     
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