Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review: Odin Sphere Leifthrasir

This game has looked pretty gorgeous since the first reveal, but its only when you get it playing on a Vita OLED that you realise how bold and detailed everything is There's a Blizzard level of polish to menus, control layout and character graphics, while every level is crammed with visual detail and little effects. All of that is pretty impressive, considering OSL is an update to a PS2 title.

Of the 200 plus screenshots I've taken, I want to post them all, but that's probably overkill. (Putting some up on Pinterest) And, while a game might look pretty - that doesn't mean its brilliant, so what happens when we get past the style and into the content? Each chapter is broken down into books, that a little girl, at home with her cat can read through to open up new missions - that's the level of creative detail here. Each of the five main character's story expands into an overall epic, nipping back and forth through plot points from a slightly different perspective.
It starts with Gwendolyn the Valkyrie, trying do the right thing in a castle with her over-bearing father a drunken giant of a barbarian and many magical plots outside the walls. Exploring is brilliant fun, most levels roll around like mini-Earths with multiple exits to new areas of the map, with countries and cities broken down into smaller areas, with many minor a few mid-level and an ominous boss for each chapter.

A toggled map overlay (no separate screen required) plus not one, but two, mini-maps show you where to go, what to pick up and who to battle or avoid, its brilliantly effective! The first chapter with Gwendolyn spends a little too much time showing off pages of old books, but the pace soon picks up.
You race after each objective around the map, picking up new skills and abilities along the way. These actions, magic spells and support skills can be instantly linked to button shortcuts, and you'll soon learn what are favourite skills and what you can live without.

Make sure you stop and take a look around once in while. From ruined cities to light glistening through stained glass windows or ice shards, this is an amazing game to gawp at, it feels rather like when Rayman came along.

Each can be powered up by Phozons, glowing crystal like shards given off by enemies in battle, or collected as you explore, or Ability Points that come with experience. All of these skills make for fast upgrades, great ways to explore your character's abilities. There's also a load of food, spells to make and ingredients for meals.
The cooking is probably the one bullshit aspect of the game. It doesn't feel needed, and there are many other ways that each character could gain experience boosts. The annoying piggy chef doesn't help either. Perhaps collectable/craftable item sets would have been more in keeping and better for the characters. That and the limited storage space, until you get home chests and bigger bags, are the real only gripes with the game.

Them aside, you'll race through this game and enjoy every minute. One reason is that most battle levels are timed and you need to both quick and effective to get an S rank. Also, the small levels leave very little hanging around or stumbling for exits. Apart from the larger monsters, battles are short and snappy. You can pause them with Triangle to consume a potion or left trigger to launch a spell that doesn't have a short cut, allowing you to figure out what works best, heat, cold, light and dark are the four basic potion or spell types - no rocket science required.

Odin Sphere is both a visual delight and a fun roving beat-em up with so many neat little tricks and features. If it would have dumped the cooking segment, then its a nigh on perfect adventure, bordering on chaotic brilliance.

Score: 9/10
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Price: £29.99 (PSN)
Developer: Vanillaware/Atlus
Progress: Gazing at the scenery!

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