Back in 2008, during the PlayStation 2 era, perhaps one of Japan’s best kept 2D action role-playing games was released in North America. The follow-up to another classic title, Princess Crown, Odin Sphere told the story of a kingdom in conflict. It had great graphics, it was compelling, and the story line was the stuff of greatness as it told the story of several main characters whose stories would overlap and ultimately change the entire narrative of all of the stories. That, combined with combat and leveling system made it one of my favorite RPGs of its time.
So, does Odin Sphere Leifthrasir recreate that same feeling from all those years ago?
Game Name: Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
Platform(s): PS4 [Reviewed], PS3, PS Vita
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Time to complete: 35-40 hours
Is it in 1080p@60fps: Hell Yes!
The story of Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, as briefly mentioned previously, revolves around 5 main characters: Gwendolyn, Oswald, Cornelius, Mercedes, and Velvet. While they don’t know each other during the passing character development, their story arcs throughout the game’s progression will introduce them to each other in some fashion. Some will go a long while and, in other instances, the characters will be on opposite ends of the spectrum. It ends up being quite an interesting ride; a story on a massive proportion, I should say. If you enjoy RPG stories that include aspects more mature in nature—hidden plots, sacrificing one’s self for the greater good, marriage, love—then you’ll be right at home here.
Finally, every piece of progression is handled via a chapter. Some are short gameplay sessions, while others merely have you moving from one location to another, or just watching how a scene plays out. But don’t worry about the number of chapters specifically, as the game does feature up to 35 hours of gameplay at the very least. There’s also a bad / good ending (I won’t spoil how or what needs to be done to get this), but you’ll definitely want to try this as it is truly rewarding. It took me a few times to get it correct, but if you pay attention to the info that is laid out for you, you’ll get it. Or, you could just cheat and look it up, but I don’t recommend doing so.
Seriously, don’t do it!
When the original Odin Sphere was released on the PlayStation 2, one of the biggest draws of the game was how good it looked. People wouldn’t stop talking about the graphics and presentation. Even then, the art direction of Odin Sphere was amazing, but it wasn’t without a compromise. The PlayStation 2 simply wasn’t able to keep up the pace and there were moments where the game simply chugged along.Well, not this time. And while Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is available for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita, I can safely say that there is zero slowdown in the PlayStation 4 version. No compromise this time as the graphics are colorful, vivid in motion and don’t skip a beat. Graphically the game looks like it did back in 2008, just more crisp and way fewer jaggies. Otherwise, there haven’t been any changes to the art style that you remember from the original Odin Sphere. If you were worried on how this game would run on the PlayStation 4, stop worrying. This game runs like a dream with its sexy 1080p@60fps, embracing me with every step I took.
The audio is equally impressive. When I first started the game and got to the first section of dialogue, I was like, is this entire game voiced? Yes, indeed it is. And though at times there’s a disconnect from what you hear and watching the mouths of the characters move, it’s nice to see that Vanillaware took the time to do that. Also included is a dual audio track, so you can choose to have either English or Japanese spoken dialogue. But if that’s not your cup of tea, you can easily bypass the spoken dialogue, which I rather enjoyed. The music and sound effects are also top notch, but more so is the background music that has this calming sensation at one point, but quickly ramps up the moment a fight breaks out. I’ve found myself just sitting in place several times just listening to the music, and to his day it still ranks as one of my favorite video game soundtracks. The only downside, however, is the track selection is used fairly often and I would have liked to have seen a bit more variety.
Just like any other RPG, there is also a vast amount of character progression throughout the game. This is something that I feel that Odin Sphere does well and offers an interesting take on traditional leveling up. Similar to many RPG’s, you earn experience points as you take down enemies and bosses, but that’s just one piece here. Within Odin Sphere lies a basic crafting system that lets you create different types of foods and potions. Depending on what type of food you create, you also can earn experience points when you eat that food created. That’s right, you can sit down, chow down and level up. That’s not the only way, as you can also pay visits to certain locations in the game and pay for all sorts of tasty dishes which will also provide a similar experience boost. And there’s nothing more serious than when you eventually find a seed, that when planted will not produce fruits or veggies, but sheep. Yes, a plant that spawns sheep, that you mow down to get lamb chops. That’s just the tip of the iceberg here, so keep playing around with the crafting system.
The star of the game, however, is the combat system. At first glance, the system seems a bit out of place. But once you get used to the controls, it becomes second nature. In fact, the combat feels like it was ripped from a 2D brawler. You have you access to simple combos, sliding attacks, magic attacks and even magical potions that can do a variety of things, from calling down a massive cyclone to huge erupting fire attacks and more. You’ll also earn additional attacks and abilities that will enhance your fighting ability. You’ll also be able to upgrade the attacks that you’ve earned, putting points into them to making them deadlier, or adding helpful passive abilities.
However, the beauty of the combat system really shows when you’re able to piece the move set that you’ve been building together and are able to pull off huge combos. We’re not talking simple 10 hit combos either, but massive 100 plus string combos. During my playthrough, I was able to hit a 215 hit combo and it was pretty epic. You’ll definitely need to get familiar with your move set as your performance will also dictate that type of score you earn during any combat segments. Do well and you’ll earn a perfect rating, the coveted “S” rank. Don’t take the enemies out fast enough or get hit one too many times and your score drops. While that may not be a huge deal for many, depending on the score you get, you earn more loot, money, potions and materials for potion and alchemy. Thankfully the combo window is a 2-3 second window, which gives you a chance to get back into the fight or chance down another unwilling enemy.
Don’t be afraid to change up your move set, either. You’re given access to a multitude of attacks, so there’s plenty of ways to bring the pain, and variety is the spice of life. Lastly, be a bit cautious while you’re trying to pull off those 100 plus string combos, as the controls are a bit touchy. Not in a bad way, just very responsive and if you’re someone who likes to mash buttons and directions, you find out that it doesn’t work too well here.
On top of it all, Atlus has also included the original version of Odin Sphere, which is selectable from the start. Just select the game and you’ll swap over to the original PlayStation 2 title. That said, after playing the heck out of Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, I really couldn’t go back to the original Odin Sphere, though it was awesome to see it included and shows how much Atlus went the extra mile with the remaster.
While it seems that Odin Sphere Leifthrasir does everything right and for the most part it does, there is one slight flaw. I’m not sure if this was done for the North American audience or not, but even at the game’s hardest setting, the game was a bit on the easy side. While I could easily attribute this to simply grinding the levels of my characters entirely too much, I really didn’t experience any major issues defeating a boss or dying during regular combat. Sure that is pretty damned minor, but it’s something worth pointing out.
For a title that wasn’t even on my radar, as I have pretty much stopped playing most Japanese RPGs, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir was an unexpected surprise. One that brought my inner-child out of its dormant slumber, and I’m glad that happened because I sort of missed that guy. Atlus has pretty much knocked this out of the park and will more than likely turn a few heads, just like it did with mine. Now that this is finally out in North America (or will be shortly after you reading this review) if you haven’t already imported this, be sure you check out Odin Sphere Leifthrasir for the PlayStation 4. Hopefully, this also means that we’ll also get a remastered edition of Dragon’s Crown or even Princess Crown. If you’re listening Atlus and Vanillaware, yes we really want one or even both of those.
We’ve also recorded some footage from Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, the first four chapters to be exact, and you can check those out on YouTube by following the links below. This goes through the tutorial and up to part of the major story that you’ll embark on, should you purchase Odin Sphere Leifthrasir.
*Odin Sphere Leifthrasir was provided by Atlus/Sega for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please take a look at our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info. *
To be perfectly honest, it feels good to get reacquainted with an old friend. The original Odin Sphere was one of my favorite RPGs on the PlayStation 2 and I’m happy to see that not only did the game survive the test of time but still offers just enough challenge and fun for even the most jaded gamer. On a presentation level, the game does so many things right; I wasn’t really able to find any major flaw and my entire game-play session was a blur as I forgot what time it was after I started playing.
Unlike its previous showing on the PlayStation 2, this time around there is zero compromise with getting those lovely looking graphics to run in all their glory, thanks to the power of the current generation of consoles. It’s just that hard not to recommend Odin Sphere Leifthrasir to anyone, from the hardest of hardcore RPG gamers to someone who is looking to play their first RPG. Hands down one of the best RPGs available for the PlayStation 4, so be sure to eat this up when the game is released.
- All dialogue is spoken
- Beautiful and vivid graphics
- Game runs silky smooth on the PlayStation 4
- The combat can get a tad repetitious
- Game is too easy even at the hardest setting