Top positive review
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Not just a pretty face
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.