Odin Sphere anybody playing?

How is it overall? I’m getting somewhat mixed reviews by people.

Decide for yourself.

I sure hope there is more to it than that one combo, otherwise it looks pretty sweet.

I’ve just begun playing, and I have to say that I like it. It’s got a strong “Legend of Mana” vibe to it, which ironically Dawn of Mana completely lacks. I’m playing both at the same time and the latter better pick up pretty darn soon or I’m murdering the development team.

Also, Gabe and Tycho weren’t kidding. The fruit really eats souls.

Waiting to see if it’ll get picked up for PAL release, otherwise importing it at the earliest opportunity.

Getting it as soon as I can find a place that still has it.

I will pick it up soon…maybe tomorrow.

I just started yesterday. I like it so far…it’s actually a challeging game. Recently games have been cupcakes in the difficulty department. Beautiful game.

I got my copy yesterday. So far, I really like it. Like Neiru_3 said, it’s challenging; you have to use all of your effort to get anywhere, but it sure is fun. And pretty too.

After playing a while, I have some complaints about the battle system. I’ve only used Gwendolyn so far, but her movements could use some more variety. You are basically stuck with a three-hit frontal combo, a downwards aerial dash, and an uppercut-ish attack by juggling the spear that nobody should ever use since it leaves you wide open. That, and her inability to do knockbacks regularly means that most of the hits I land are met right back by the enemy (Who can knock me back).

Otherwise, it’s pretty fun.

EDIT: Oh, and whomever thought that assigning Attack and Defend to the same button needs to die in a fire. And no, you can’t change that.

Okay, I can write a better review now.

The game consists of several characters’ stories in succession, finishing one and moving on to the next, until once they are all done (I’m guessing here, but I’m pretty sure) each one is given an extra section in which they may or may not converge.
You hear something about a “final battle” or some such, so given the names thrown around, it will probably be something along the lines of Ragnarok.

Most of it is a regular brawler. You enter an area, kill everything, get a score and a corresponding reward, move on to the next, and so on until you finish the Act. The fighting itself is nothing spectacular and might get old after a while. I’ve yet to try anyone else, but Gwendolyn could use a few more moves.

If you are killed, you just restart that specific area, and you can also go back to your base and restart, or level stuff or whatever, so it’s not frustrating at all. Later on difficulty really spikes up in levels in which getting hit twice can kill you (At least in max difficulty, haven’t tried about lower) so it’s a valuable feature.

However, there’s much more to do during battle. Killed enemies release “Phozons” (little balls of light) that you can absorb to strengthen your weapon and learn spells. You can also plant a variety of seeds which after absorbing a set amount of Phozons will bear fruit… and other stuff. Just a heads up: You can plant sheep.

The comestibles can be consumed to replenish HP and accumulate HP EXP, which increases your maximum HP for each level you gain. Only the weapon and HP level up by the way. Later on you have access to a restaurant and café which, provided you have the ingredients, can cook food that gives you FAR more HP EXP.

You can also use Materials (a kind of vial with liquid) to create a number of potions through alchemy by combining them with types of mandragoras you can get in the areas. These potions go from knock-off molotovs, to healing serums, potions that halve damage (You’ll be chugging these down like crazy), potions for keeping you from freezing/burning and even one that lets you see beyond your goddamn nose in certain areas, though the best part is that clever use of alchemy creates a bunch of phozons.

You can revisit areas as much as you want to grow/alchemize/kill/level so if things start to get too difficult, you can take your time.

Graphically it’s absolutely breathtaking. God I miss widespread 2D. You probably all saw that already though.

Story wise, it’s Legend of Mana-ish, but much more linear. I’ve zero complaints about the writing and even the mushy parts were touching as opposed to making me cringe like most such scenes usually do. Voice acting is perfect.

And that’s it for now. Just finished Gwendolyn story and I’m moving on to the Pooka prince. I can’t wait until I get to use Oswald though.

Finally! I just got it, and now I’m going to try it out.

Am I the only one who noticed that this game sucks, or does it just pick up VERY slowly? I’m about to start Chapter 5 of Gwendolyn’s - Quite frankly, I’d imagine it really should be somewhat intriguing, by now…

EDIT: Since I’m gonna write up a review on this game, I thought I’d just throw in random musings as I went.

  • The gameplay. Beyond being repetitive, and blocking being to useless (and difficult) to use…the learning curve is kind of steep. The problem with that is, until you get a grasp on the alchemy system, and how to ration your items and money properly, the game is HELL. On the other hand, once you get that down, it just is kind of repetitive and easy. Since you don’t really need the apply much strategy, the game moves instantly from easy to hard as you get a grasp on how it works.

  • But SERIOUSLY!? What is UP with this repetition? Even the boss fights are the same! One of the bosses in the first book was the love of the second main character, and they still found some way for you to fight the exact same boss. Gimme a fuckin’ break.

  • Am I the only person who has to deal with a TON of slowdown and loading times? I’m just making sure this is an ‘everyone’ thing and not just a ‘my copy’ thing.

  • Story. What is UP with it? Can anyone really follow it? I get that there’s a cauldron, and it blows shit up, and it blow up a kindgom once. Now, some kingdoms (maybe more than two?) are fighting over it/control of land. I’m not sure who exactly knows how to use the cauldron and who doesn’t, and what anyone’s motivations are - who is just trying to dominate the earth? Who is trying to protect it? You fight EVERYONE, so it’s like it doesn’t even matter to your characters.

  • Also, does it kind of seem like you can’t figure out what’s going to happen next? …Only, NOT in a good, suspenseful way, but in a “Okay, seriously, where is this gonna go from here” kind of way?

  • I like how the inner monologues are played out slightly differently between characters…or at least, I’m hoping they do that - I’m only on the second story. I only wish that the characters were more interesting.

  • Lastly, I’m through with most of the second story, and if even ONE more of the stories is a “I can’t gain acceptance from my parents, so I’ll seek love and acceptance elsewhere” story, I’m gonna kick someone’s assballs.

EDIT 6/8: Just started the fourth book (Oswald).

  • Playing as Mercedes was actually kind of fun, because she was absolutely nothing like the other two characters (or Oswald, who just plays like the first two characters, it seems).

  • Dude, some of these bosses have virtually one-hit KOs. It’s really stupid.

  • Where’s the consistency in the story? If you’ve played through the second (and third, to some extent) story, you should know a lot more about the Pookas. The whole concept of them is really…just…dumb.

  • There is no indication of just where you are in the timeline when you’re playing the game. I can only assume, for example, that Gwendolyn’s story extends pretty damn far after the end of Mercedes’s story, since Mercedes doesn’t get a particular artifact that Gwen swipes from her until after the last boss. That’s about when I realized to the full extent of how horrifically this story is put together. Now, sure, you can go view how the story is put together in chronological order…but why would you want to sit through a story that has failed to impress you a second time just to make a little more sense of the timeline? The story is still haphazardly constructed.

So, I finished Odin Sphere. Here’s a review (hint - I didn’t like it):

Atlus has a knack for putting out tons and tons of RPGs, wherein the majority of them are painfully average or worse. When I first heard of Odin Sphere, I thought, “Oh, great, another RPG from Atlus that probably won’t be good.” Imagine my surprise when I found that nearly every major online publication gave it a great score! With that in mind, I had to see what Odin Sphere was all about. So, I played it, and guess what? I was surprised to find that I was wrong about Odin Sphere: It’s MUCH, MUCH worse than ‘not good.’

The first thing you might notice about Odin Sphere is that it’s beautiful. I’m serious - this game is 2D at its finest, by comprising characters of multiple sprites, giving the illusion of 3D, and creating 2D graphics that are far more detailed than anything I’ve ever seen before. The music, done by Hitoshi Sakimoto (Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy 12, Ogre Battle, etc.), is masterfully composed - easily as beautiful as the visuals that it emphasizes. It was clear that quite a lot of money was thrown into Odin Sphere. Moving right along…

Odin Sphere is presented as a set of related fairy tales - this is made appearant by the fact that you start the game each time you play by having a child pick up a book and read it. All the books have seven chapters, each with six acts. Each time you finish a book, you can start a new one. The books all deal with the exploits of one hero within roughly the same timeline - after finishing all of them (five in all), a final book wraps up the story once and for all. While this sounds like a GREAT idea - mostly because it is - it’s pulled off so overwhelmingly bad that…well, it’s overwhelming. To put it briefly, there really isn’t much point in trying to give the illusion of a fairy tale, because there are tons of inner monologues in the game, and there is no narrator - any and all narratives are done by the main character of the story, making it feel nothing at all like a fairy tale.

Does this sound a bit nitpicky? Here’s why this causes a LOT of problems: For starters, being that all five books take place over the same section of time, the characters interact with each other a lot - you may find that one character is your friend or even your love interest in one book; but turns out being your enemy in another. This might not seem so confusing, but they make no attempt to piece these nuances together gracefully. For example, Cornelius, the main character of the second book, is in love with this girl named Velvet, who happens to be the main character of the fifth book. Although you see a lot of Cornelius interacting/pining over Velvet in his book, you almost never even SEE Cornelius in Velvet’s book, because the game doesn’t bother repeating scenes. When trying to piece together the haphazardly-viewed events from five different stories, this becomes very confusing, and even annoying.

Secondly, further driving the point of annoyance home is that the game doesn’t try to help clue you in as to what point in the timeline you are witnessing as you play. The keywords here are ‘as you play’: at any time, you can view a story chronicle, which shows at what point each act of each chapter takes place in relation to all the stories. While this is convenient, it doesn’t really become useful until you’re into about the third book or so, because you have too little of a story foundation for it to be effective. Even then, not being able to tell where you are in the timeline as you play makes things terribly confusing: For example, in one of the characters’ stories, several entire chapters take place between the time of two acts of this character’s story. Even though several hours of story have taken place between this character’s two acts, all YOU see is the ‘Now Loading’ screen, which makes it feel like it happened almost immediately afterwards. As a result, finding your place in the story at any given time is very difficult.

The third point is something I briefly mentioned earlier: There is far too little foundation for the story. Because the game jumps unpredictably forward in time, from the perspective of only one person at a time, you are thrown several names, ideas, events, variables, etc. but you can’t make much sense of them for a very long time. For the first two books, you know something along the lines of “Okay. So, there’s a cauldron, and it blows shit up, and it blew up a kindgom once. Now, some kingdoms (maybe more than two?) are fighting over it/control of land. I’m not sure who exactly knows how to use the cauldron and who doesn’t, and what anyone’s motivations are - who is just trying to dominate the earth? Who is trying to protect it?” These questions come to light almost halfway through the game, so for the first half, you’re just sifting through a montage of scenes, all - to the best of your knowledge - of questionable, perhaps dismissable, importance. Besides, how much can you really care if you’ve been made to wait so long? Mystery works when you have information to intrigue you, but when EVERYTHING is shrouded in mystery, you can’t really get excited about it - you don’t have anything concrete to be excited about!

The fourth, and perhaps final blow suffered due to the game’s tragically poor fairy tale presentation, is the individual focus of the stories. It is no secret that the focus of Odin Sphere’s story is the plot, rather than the characters; however, three of the five stories have little of any importance to the plot; Instead, they are all very character-focused, allowing the plot to simply happen randomly AROUND them. The characters are never particularly interesting, either - the three more character-based stories can all be summed up in the same way: “I can’t gain acceptance from my parents, so I’ll seek love and acceptance in the arms of another.” Poorly done, annoying, and completely banal and irrelevant - it almost makes it seem like none of the things happening around your characters has any relevance to them. Of the remaining two stories, the most interesting one - Mercedes’s story - winds up being equally pointless, as the big plot point revealed in the fifth book renders virtually the ENTIRE PLOT inept. Sure, it helps you see WHY some characters, kingdoms, etc. were acting as they did, but it’s right up there with Star Ocean 3’s infamous “You’re in an MMORPG!” plot twist.

Because of the poor focus of each individual story, as well as the plot point that leads to the final book, it’s very hard for me to decide whether or not Odin Sphere would have done better to have forced you to move between each character in a fixed chronological order (i.e removing the fairy tale element completely), or by just simply rewriting a majority of the game’s story in order to fit the game’s presentation (i.e embracing the fairy tale element more hollistically). Either way, the story and presentation are so critically flawed in so many ways that it can only be described as dysfunctional. Nitpicking on all the individual plotholes (which there are some big ones - I would know, because I wrote a few down as I played the game) would be beating a dead horse; the game’s story breaks down waaaaaay before you even get to the details.

Now, with all I’ve said about the story, what’s to be said about the actual gameplay? Well…repitition is the name of the game, here. And, not in a very good way, either. I’ll try and be brief:

Odin Sphere plays as a 2D side view action RPG. Every chapter of a story, you go through a dungeon - there are eight of them in all. The dungeons are comprised of battlefields that spawn sets of enemies - each battlefield having a varying level of difficulty. As you beat all the enemies on a battlefield, you’re allowed to move on to the next one - at times, you might have several paths you can take. When you finally reach the end, you fight a boss, and then you’re finished until the next chapter.

This is EXACTLY what you’ll be doing from the beginning of the first story, until the end of the fifth story (the last book is just a series of boss fights! Whoopee). Since there are only eight locales in the entire world and seven chapters in each book, you’ll be revisiting places A LOT, and fighting the same fights, and even the same bosses (which, by the way, are often instigated with little to no reason at all, adding pointlessness to boringness), over and over again. There are ocsassionaly some bosses that are unique to a book, but it’s very uncommon.

Making the game all the more repetitive is the playable characters - virtually all of them play the same. Sure, some of them have minor differences - Gwendolyn can hover, Cornelius can do a spin attack, Oswald can turn into a demon, etc.), however, the core strategy in playing the characters remains the same. All the characters fight by getting close and doing the same combo over an over again. For that matter, they all get virtually the exact same set of spells, too. Only Mercedes - the only interesting part of the whole game - plays differently, as she is an archer and can fly.

Beyond that, there’s this neat system called the ‘alchemy system’, where you combine items called ‘material’ with plants to make items. This is a really cool idea, and there are tons of possible items you can make; however, you’ll find as you progress through the game that you don’t need to make very many different types of items, and that it’s a terrible waste of time.

That all being said, this game has a steep learning curve. Before you get used to the game’s physics, and get a hold how the alchemy system works, you’ll find the game incredibly frustrating to play; however, the moment you find out how to work the game’s system, the game immediately becomes nothing more than a mindless chore to play. The only thing that breaks the monotony are the occassional absurdly-unfair bosses, by means of either having attacks that are one-hit KO’s, or by means of game slowdown (which there is unfortunately quite a lot of in Odin Sphere), which causes the game to drop inputs, force you to get hit by objects more times than you should, and sometimes even causes you to move slower than objects that you can usually outrun!

One last thing that I simply can not omit from my review about the gameplay is the way the final story works: It is a series of five bosses - you choose which character fights which boss, and the character can not partake in combat again. The most fucked up part of the game lies within this book - your characters go into battle EXACTLY as they ended the last battle - items, levels, stored magic…Everything. If you didn’t have the foresight to be prepared for this by power-levelling, or by saving items for after the last boss, you can fix that by REPLAYING THE CHARACTER’S ENTIRE STORY. And, if you don’t go back, you won’t be saving yourself from any frustration - you’ll just be rolling it up into a few concentranted, cuss word-inducing minutes.

Odin Sphere stands for damn near EVERYTHING I hate about RPGs rolled up into one game - Shitty presentation, a contrived plot-based story with one-dimensional, lame characters, a boring and repetitive combat system with a few challenges that can be rendered inept with simple power-leveling. It then takes all of these flaws and exacerbates them to absurd proportions. It is a game that is all shock-and-awe, and no substance. It would be a lie to say that Odin Sphere contained no good ideas; however, every single one of them was a waste. The only thing about playing this game that gave me any satisfaction was the part at the end of the game when I wrote this review. I beat the game somewhere around the thirty-five hour mark, but I hear it takes people about forthyto fifty hours. So, how about it? If you want to waste forty to fifty hours of your life while being very angry in the process, try Odin Sphere. Otherwise, the only people to whom I can reccomend this game are bored, masochistic gamers who works as editors for some sort of game publication site/magazine. It’ll give you something to talk about. I knew what my verdict about this game would be after playing it for twenty minutes, and the only difference is that it has changed from future to present tense: I hate this game.

Save the last paragraph for posterity.

Skankin’ Garbage… You don’t like atlus? I’ve been a huge fan of the Shen Megami Tensei series… I’ve never played anything else they have made… and from your review I’m pretty sure i won’t like this game either.

Edit- Actually around 2001 or so, they came out with a game called Wizardry for ps2, played the hell out of that one.

Atlus puts out a lot of very niche RPGs…or just mediocre ones. Shin Megami Tensei sounds like it might be fun if I wanted to spend a LOT of time on a game, which I don’t…Other than that, they released games like:

Stella Deus - Depressingly mediocre FFT clone.

Disgaea - Terribly TRPG that is thankfully done by NIS America, the true vanity publisher of RPGs.

Riviera: The Promised Land - Some lame text-adventure style RPG for the GBA that really doesn’t stand out at all.

Super Robot Wars - No comment.

Etrian Odyssey - Sounds like a fun game if you like crawling through unforgiving dungeons. I don’t play Nintendo RPGs anymore, these days.

Izuna - Sounds like Etrian Odyssey but much worse.

Contact - A big huge dissapointment RPG. I wrote a review on it, if you care to read it.

Among tons and tons of other ones…

Metal Saga
Lufia 4
Magna Carta
Generations of Chaos

All a bunch of games that got mediocre of worse reviews. Atlus does publish some real gems every once in a while - Ogre Battle, Kartia, they’re gonna publish Growlanser V soon (thank fucking GOD), but you have to sift through so much mediocrity to find them. Sometimes, I really think that Atlus will publish damn near anything.

From what little I played of Izuna it was horrid. It was another dungeon crawler game similar to what Pokemon Mystery Dungeon was. Games like these are why I’m glad I have a flash card for my DS. Not that I would buy these games in the first place, but it’s nice to know I can prove to myself that something sucks without having to pay for them. SG is right though, the RPGs that Atlus brings over are highly niche games. Usually the people they cater to will love the hell out of them, but everyone else usually won’t be very impressed.

It’s good that we’re getting all these obscure games though, just years ago it was practically unheard of to localize niche games. I mean look at the 90s, how many companies took the risk to bring over obscure Japanese games? Yeah, I’m pretty sure the only answer to this is Working Designs, and it’s a god damn crying shame they went under.

It’s a shame about Odin Sphere, I recently started playing it and I can already see what SG is talking about. It honestly has a lot of great things going for it, but they’re overshadowed by the glaring flaws. But damn does it look good.

I agree with those sentiments entirely…I guess what really bothers me about Atlus is that they don’t seem to publish their really good ones - They just started localizing Growlanser, for crying out loud! Mark my words: If this Growlanser game is anywhere near as good as the ones put out by Working Designs, it’s gonna do well.

Welp, you may as well add this to your ‘Games should stop sucking’ blog.