Review Context: I have played through Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir in about forty hours, including some extra content. I also played some of the the original version of Odin Sphere that was included within Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir.
Date of Playthrough: May 2016
Disclosure: This review was based off of a review copy.
Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is the HD remake of the Playstation 2 game that was released in 2007. The game follows five characters: Valkyrie, Cornelius, Mercedes, Oswald, and Velvet, as their stories intertwine as the end of the world draws near. This is a remake in the true sense of the word, as the game feels completely different compared to the PS2 version, while still keeping a lot of what made the original game very fun to play. If you want to experience the original game, they included an option to play the original game without any of the changes.
Odin Sphere story is set in a Neverending Story style of storytelling. A little girl named Alice is in her attic, which is filled with dozens of books. One on the floor titled “Valkyrie” is the one Alice decides to choose. This format of stories is how each of their characters is introduced. Each book is full of a six to eight hour story dedicated to that particular character. This has both great and confusing effects to the overall story. On one hand, you really get to know each character and how each of them plays because they all have very different weapon and play styles and see the events of the plot from their perspectives. On the other, because you are seeing plot events from their perspective and their stories are scattered through the story in different places, the plot will be confusing at points, because characters and events are affected by others sometimes before you reach them yourselves. There are an additional two books after you beat each of the character’s individual books. Overall, despite a confusing start, the story is very good and enjoyable.
The gameplay is a combo based action RPG. Each chapter is broken down into small encounters before a boss battle. Each battle is ranked, making the combat and combos meaningful. The ranking judges you based on your combo, how long it takes you to beat the stage, and how much damage you have taken. This gives you a final score, which will decide your rank. Ranks go from S being the best, A, B, C, and D. The higher the rank you get on each battle, the more rewards you will earn. Each character has a unique weapon called a Psypher. As the character becomes stronger and collects orbs called “phozons” they can enhance learned abilities. The gameplay is the highlight of Odin Sphere. It’s fun and addictive once you learn how the gameplay mechanics work. Every stage is on a circular track. This helps battles continue so you don’t run out of room or get yourself cornered. The multiple paths help each map feel bigger and exploration is incentivized by showing you the best reward in each area when you buy and look at the map.
The gameplay is where you will see the difference between the PS2 version and Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir. The game feels completely different. The gameplay is noticeably better, making combos and battles a lot smoother without stopping the gameplay as much as it did. For example, doing special attacks in the original meant you had you briefly froze gameplay to select an attack, and the POW system had taken away from specials and normal attacks, making you stop when the bar is empty. Now the POW system is only used on specials and does not fatigue you halting the gameplay, and specials also have a hot button option so you can set your favorite select specials. The circle menu system is organized by having individual categories where the original didn’t.
The graphics and the storybook art-style have also been completely revamped. Everything has been completely redrawn and the game does not encounter any slowdowns. Overall, the remake feels very smooth, which helps make the gameplay so rich and rewarding, even though there are things they still could have improved to lessen the stopping in gameplay. The ranking screen, while greatly sped up, still impedes gameplay, and when you get scrolls, either backstory/lore scrolls or food/potion recipes, the game needs to stop and open them up to show you what they are. While it’s not so annoying for the story scrolls, it is for the recipes scrolls you collect on each character. It’s annoying to have to stop and see what you have already seen multiple times. The music in the game is very well done and complements the storybook styling of the art. The battles feel very epic and the fantastical settings are appropriate, making the fairy forest feel very alive.
Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is a fantastic game and a great example of how remasters should be handled. The game is greatly improved over the original, and the bonus of having the original game allows you to experience or compare the differences yourself. While the story can be a bit confusing to start, it does come out to an interesting conclusion and the different play styles helps break up what could have been a really long and repetitive game. Those who have played the original should definitely check this game out, and those who haven’t but are looking for a combo based action RPG need to check this out as well.
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