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on 30 September 2009
I went into Odin Sphere for it's astounding artwork, excepting a normal mechanical gameplay that served it's purpose to draw the player through the gorgeous landscape and enchanting story.

While i did indeed get my astounding artwork and enchanting story, the mechanics weren't just a method of moving the story along. They had their own beautifully simplistic way of drawing the player in. While incredible simple, The controls and game mechanics have an underlying strategy to them. Using only one button during will suffice, but how and where to use it becomes a complex and challenging affair, especially in the boss fights.

The RPG aspects of the game are barely noticeable until you see later on that your attack is doing better than it was half an hour ago. This is not the say they are unnecessary, my need to expand my leveling up scheme was satisfied by the game. But if you someone who doesn't wish to delve into that aspect, the game is more than happy to handle it for you. However, unlike other RPGs which have excessive amounts of stats to keep checks on, Odin Sphere only gives you two stats: Attack and HP. So even an RPG novice could find joy in micro-managing their stats.

The story, (while not revealing any spoilers) is a very unique and deeply satisfying medieval fantasy, but the way they set out each event is something i wish more RPGs would emulate. You play through as 5 different characters, one after another, and one event in oswald's story for example could coincide with Gwendolyn's story, you can even track the chart of events by pausing the game and going to the "story" option. While each character has it's own brilliant set of events which in itself makes up a story, the overall story is revealed slowly as you piece together the mysteries set in earlier events. A truly 'woven' story.

The alchemy aspect of the game gives a much more organic twist to the usual Metal+Metal affair of many RPGs. Instead to create things that increase your stats or to use as disposable weapons, you use seeds, This is where the game becomes deep in spite of the comparatively simple gameplay mechanics in the game. The breadth of items you can create is huge. If have completed the game once, but upon checking gameFAQs i saw that i had made a fraction of the items i could have.

A small note on the option of dialog language in the game. You can choose between english or japanese dialogue with english subtitles. While most will want to go for the english language. The voice acting is slightly lacking while the japanese adds to the mystic atmosphere of the game drawn from the unfamiliarity of the language to english speakers, while still conveying the emotions and gestures of the characters.

While i do praise this game a lot, there are certain (admittedly nickpicky) aspects i don't like. I first played the game on normal, only to restart after being pretty much blasted by the game's difficulty very early on. The Easy mode however is still a challenge, but still allows you to enjoy both story and gameplay.

The game's score is one that can easily be missed as it almost melds with the environments. But putting a keen ear to it reveals it has a wonderful if quite subdued tone.

People are rather divided on this game. Some say it's a simplistic brawler with no real combat depth, To expect complexity from a game that promised no such thing is dishonest, indeed it would not benefit from having a more complex combat system. Others call it a cult classic, while i wouldn't label any game like that, it does put the game in a more positive light when people look back at the PS2's life.

Overall, i'd happily place this game in as one of my favourite PS2 games. And i would love to see developers take a leaf from Vanillaware's philosophy. This game would be worth the full price tag, never mind the fraction i payed to buy it here.
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on 28 March 2009
Aside from the game getting a little repetitive after a while, given enough patience and effort this game will quickly evolve into one of the most beautiful games ever made for PS2.

The graphics are truly breath-taking, the music will captivate you from the first till the very last second and the story (particularly the way it is told) will keep you begging for more.

The game's only flaw would be its battle system (wich is also sadly the main focus in the game). Having ran through the first few stages it will get repetitive really fast and after some time you'll feel like playing another hack 'n slash game but just give it some effort and you'll find out that the story makes it more than worth it all. repetitive? sure, but boring? hell no!
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on 10 March 2014
One of the things vanillaware gets right in almost all their games is the amazing 2D sprite art coupled with parallax scrolling backgrounds and an amazing soundtrack. And Odin Sphere is no different.

The story's main focus is love, war and power. You play the roll of various characters and their personal adventures through a single timeline, every now and then their paths cross and character A meets with character B. Each has their own agenda within the main even of the game, the war between the Faeries and the Valkyries. Each character has their own influence over the events of the game, some greater than others, but each has an arching story of their own.

Gameplay feels rather stiff at times and it's where the game has some faults, as an action RPG the game requires you to attack the enemies in real time not unlike a brawler, but sometimes the controls are a bit stiff and unresponsive It feels rather cheap when a boss fight takes a bad turn because you got caught in an animation lock.
Levels are gained in two areas, your weapon and your health. You collect exp from killing enemies by absorbing it into your weapons to give it more power and spells/abilities. While health is gained by eating various foods within the game (Food is another Vanillaware trademark). You can later combine ingredients to create better health exp boosts.

Graphics are artistic and age very well over time. The 2D sprites are filled with detail and animation. Some characters are as big as the screen yet have as much attention to detail as the smaller characters. The locations are beautifully rendered each with their own theme and with layers upon layers of parallax scrolling (an animation art of moving foreground images quicker than background images in 2D to create the sense of movement or 3D). It is in my opinion the high point of the game.

Sound direction is good. You get the choice between the English voice cast and Japanese voice cast. The English cast brings a theatrical/stage fantasy tone to the acting, (think The Princess Bride) and it suits the setting very well. A few characters miss a note every now and then but the main cast do a very good job. The score also has a very high point almost always orchestral, each location and character with their own theme that suits them very well. The opening song being one of my most memorable themes to a game ever.

Overall I find this game a great experience, I like to add that even though this game is rated correctly, it's much more mature in its design and story. Adults that like animation or more old school sprite based games will greatly appreciate this title.
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on 31 August 2011
When I first played the game I thought I had wasted my money. Graphics are in 2D and it is a circular almost old school gameplay system. But I stuck with it, and was amazed!! The characters, designs, colouring and art of the game is second to none! People talk about the amazing new FFXIII HD graphics, but this shows a precedent to make non HD art inspiring. The story line is very good, leaving you as the player to piece together mainly because their are 5 seperate storylines not told in chronological order. The different characters are vastly different, but each one is very enjoyable to play!! This game is value for money and the soundtrack is very underrated! In fact so is this whole game!!
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on 17 June 2016
I bought Odin Sphere when it first came out, based on the artwork and a little digging for reviews. I also bought a Japanese copy when I was in Japan because the desire seized me to play it and I hadn't got my English copy with me...

The artwork is utterly gorgeous and the story is compelling. I played through the entire first book in a day! There are five in total, each with a different character. Some share bosses and levels but difficulty does go up as you play. You can replay levels to improve your characters further once you have finished a book if they were not sufficiently improved once you reach the final bosses (again, there are five).

It's just great. RPG fans should love it. I've just pre-ordered the remake on the PS4, too.... looking forward to see what they have done with one of my favourite games ever.
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on 11 July 2011
Great multiple character story's with an enchanting music score and very resourceful way of using food to level up your health! You can use alchemy to make potions from seemingly useless over abundant items and gain weapon experience from the phozons released depending how large you make the 10's multiple A-potion (99 being highest)! :D

*WARNING* This Jap-anime game may be cute on the surface but younger gamers may find this rather challenging even on normal; without repeating past stages and leveling up on experience, the standard enemies let alone boss battles can kill you in 4 hits :oo! A+
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on 21 January 2013
The story, the art work, and the game play are all prefect!
it is by far one of the best rpgs i have ever played and i'm a hard to please fantasy gamer.
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on 19 December 2015
if you liked Dragon's Crown on PS3 but are looking for deeper story and singleplayer experience you can't go wrong with this one. 2d action rpg hack n' slasher with charming art style and characters and interesting gameplay mechanics and a whopping 5 playable characters each with their own unique story arc. it's pretty difficult at first though so i recommend starting with easy difficulty first playthrough to avoid ragequitting.
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on 6 December 2010
Atlus is a Japanese game company known for their RPG's such as the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series and Etrian Odyssey while these games added something new the RPG genre they still stick close to the traditional RPG formula. Published by Atlus and developed by Vanilla Ware Odin Sphere, while still a RPG, strays away from the generic RPG formula by merging gameplay elements from different genres and an interesting story (if a little confusing) to create something unique.

Story
The story of Odin Sphere takes place in Erion which is in the middle of a war between the world's four kingdoms. Endephia, the neverworld ruled by Odette the undead queen who also can't leave her kingdom, Ringford, the fairy forest ruled by Elfaria the fairy queen (it's nowhere near as childish as it sounds), Ragnanival, the home of the demon lord Odin and Volkenon, the fire kingdom ruled by the inferno king Onyx. Each Kingdom provides different points of views on the war which keeps interest in the story as no kingdom is stereotyped as the `evil one'. The story is told through `books' (six in total). You control a girl who picks up (selects) one of these books with each one following one of the games characters (these are covered later on in the review) completing one unlocks the next and so on. This is a basically covering the main menu but is an interesting way to do so and adds to story book charm of the game. There are five characters to play as in the game, Gwendolyn, a Valkrie who is a daughter of Odin, Cornelius, a prince turned into a Polka (one of the games many quirky creatures), Mercedes, a fairy princess of the before mentioned kingdom Elfaria, Oswald, a mysterious dark knight and Velvet, the forest witch. As mentioned before each character has their own book which follows their personal story. The characters have distinct and likeable personalities, helped by the good voice acting, which by the end of the game you care about what happens to them and their personal obstacles. Gwendolyn for example is torn between obeying her farther, Odin, when she thinks his invasions of other kingdoms is wrong or rebelling and helping the other kingdoms, while Mercedes has to deal with the death of her mother and the stress of becoming the new queen. The characters stories cross with each other which makes keeping up with the games timeline quite tricky. This problem is helped by the in-game timeline, which details each character's events and how long they took, this becomes very valuable later in the game when more plot twists and characters are reviled.

Gameplay
Odin Sphere at first glance looks like a general 2D side scrolling action game. If you look beneath this you'll find a deep and, if a little repetitive, fun action RPG. The player controls one of the five characters mentioned above. Each character has the same basic combo with a melee weapon (minus Mercedes who I'll talk about later) and the same low level spells however the characters have unique abilities, moves and weakness's that force the player to change their strategy for each character. For example Gwendolyn can jump then use her spear to home in on an enemy which with her glide ability makes her ideal for quickly jumping into combat then retreating to a safe distance. While Mercedes has the ability to fly for a limited time and uses a crossbow (the only ranged weapon in the game) which needs recharging after a certain number of shots which leaves Mercedes venerable to enemy attacks meaning you have to take into account how many shots you have left and if your safe enough to recharge. The stages of Odin Sphere take place on a 2D plane which is on a sphere so if you keep running left from the starting point you'll eventually come back to it. There are five levels for each character set out in stages. In these stages you need to defeat a certain number of enemies to progress to the next stage and so on until you find the end of level boss. There's multiple routes through the level which a full of extra items, money and sub boss's. The boss's in the game provide a good challenge, even on the lowest difficulty setting, however some boss's attacks feel quite cheap and un-fair which can take away the fun and make it frustrating. Also quite a few bosses are repeated for each character which gets repetitive. Odin sphere also (like many of Atlus's RPG's) has a big focus on item synthesis. Once you've found or brought a recipe you can go into the inventory to choose ingredients that you've either found or grown and merge them together to create a new item, raging from hot buns to incendiary potions. This is quite fun and gives you something else to do besides combat however it can get very tedious towards the later levels as some ingredients are only obtainable through synthesis, meaning you have to find some items to make a item then use that to make an other and so on.

Graphics/Music
Visually Odin Sphere looks stunning. The character sprites for both main characters and enemies are bright, colourful, filled with detail and unique (how many games with lance wielding armoured unicorn knights have you seen?). The hand drawn environments look just as good. These range from the undead fields of the underworld, icy mountain peaks, lush forests and the fiery kingdom of Volkenon. Each location is done with a great amount of detail making a believable fantasy environment. Unfortunately during some stages when there are too many enemies or a boss on screen the game suffers some really bad slowdown, in some cases it can make the level unplayable. Also each environment is reused for every character which again makes the game repetitive. The music in Odin Sphere (composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto who composed Final Fantasy 12's music) is done well with each piece fitting their environments perfectly.

Conclusion

To sum up Odin Sphere is fun and unique action RPG that breaks away from the conventional RPG formula (and side scroller formula). This with a compelling, multi-layered story and a stunning art design has created a new and fresh gaming experience slightly let down by slowdowns and repetition.
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on 22 June 2014
This game is like a 2d beat em up with rpg elements. Its quite a unique game. Recommended if you like the sound of the genre
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