Today I will review a game that left quite an impression on me,
The game was produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the man who created Final Fantasy. The soundtrack was made by Nubou Uematsu, who made soundtracks for Final Fantasy games earlier, and the character designs are from Takehiko Inoue, who is a famous mangaka in and outside of Japan.
The game was released in Japan in 2007 and in Europe and the US in 2008.
Lost Odyssey is a very classical J-RPG (japanese role playing game). There are random battles and a turn based battle system. That means, while walking in a dungeon you can’t see your enemies, instead there could be a little animation (the screen turns to shards and shatters) anytime you move and the battle screen will appear. Now you can give orders to your characters like Attack, Magic, Item, Skill, and so on. When you have finished giving orders to the last member of your group, they and their enemies take action. Every character and enemy has a set value for how long it takes him to act. When everyone on the battlefield has taken their action, you can give orders again.
Very important for battles is the formation of your party. You can divide them in a Front Row and a Back Row. The total Health Points (HP) of the front row at the beginning of a fight act as a shield for the back row. The more the health of your front row goes down, the shield will provide less protection for the back row, and they will take more damage when attacked. Even if you heal your front row the shield doesn’t recharge, but there are certain skills to get the protection back, so don’t worry.
Another interesting feature in this game is the Ring Menu. You can equip special rings to your characters to improve their attacks by adding damage, elements, status ailments or the ability to inflict more damage on a certain enemy type. But simply equipping these rings helps you nothing. To make them work you have to attack an enemy, and while your character is doing so, you can see a ring on your screen. Now you have to pull the right trigger of your Joypad and hold it. You will see a second, much bigger but shrinking ring appear. Now you just wait until the two rings match and release the trigger. If you have done this correctly, the word “perfect” will appear and the ring will release it’s full power on the enemy. If you are a little off timing it says “good” and the ring will also work, but of course a bit weaker. If you are completely off, it will say “bad” and your character attacks normally without extra ring power.
For every survived battle your party gets Experience Points (Exp) and Skill Points (SP). Exp count for every member of your team and help them Level Up, BUT, not all of them learn new skill by just leveling up, only the mortal characters will. Your immortals on the other hand gain new skills by linking with your mortals or by equipping accessories. That works as follows: You choose the immortal you want to learn a new skill. Then you choose the mortal who has the skill you want to be taught, and then you choose the skill. Every skill needs a certain amount of SP to be memorized by your immortals, so you fight until you have the right amount and after the fight a message will tell you that your immortal has a new skill. Sounds complicated but is actually quite simple.
If a mortal character dies in a battle, he stays dead until you revive him with an item. If an immortal character gets knocked down, you can revive him with an item also, or you just wait a couple of rounds and he will come back to live all by himself. But a knocked down party member gets no Exp or SP at the end of battle.
Besides fighting there’s a whole lot of other stuff to do in the world of Lost Odyssey. You roam cities and settlements and buy stuff there, collect treasures and memories (more on that later) talk to people or play minigames. You can also travel the world map by ship and find new places, bosses and treasures.
The story is about a guy named Kaim Argonar. Kaim is a thousand years old, but that is almost everything he knows about himself. The story starts on a battlefield in the war between Khent and the former kingdom of Uhra. Kaim is a mercenary and fighting on Uhran side when suddenly a giant meteor appears and destroys the whole battlefield (and the whole country of Khent), leaving no survivors except for Kaim. Nobody knows where the meteor came from, but it is suspected that the Grand Staff, Uhra’s latest invention, is responsible for this. The Grand Staff is a machine that can use huge amounts of magic energies, but it wasn’t built to be a weapon, so everyone thinks it has malfunctioned. Kaim and two others are sent to investigate the machine, soon it comes clear that indeed the Great Staff was responsible for the destruction of Khent, and that it was no accident at all. And thus begins a journey to find the one who used the power of the machine to destroy a whole country, but Kaim will find out more. He will recover his memories little by little, if he wants to know his past or not. And he will discover, that he is not the only immortal wandering the world.
I have to say, this game blew me away. At first I didn’t want to play it because I didn’t like the character designs, but when I was finally conviced to play it, I couldn’t stop. This game is just awesome. The story is excellent told and it is in fact one of the best stories i had the pleasure to play in a long time. The characters are very well developed and everyone comes with a really good background and has a believeable personality, first of all the hero of the game Kaim. At first he is very silent and sometimes quite unfriendly to other people. He doesn’t want to make connections to other people because he knows, they will die eventually and he will be alone again, a little more sad and lonely than before. That’s the same reason why he doesn’t want his memories back at first, he figures most of them are memories of people dying, and who would like to remember that? But at a certain point in the game he starts to change his opinion about his past and he becomes more open to new relationships as well.
The memories themself are worth a note on their own. Before the game was released in Japan, a book came out, titled “A thousand years of dreams” (It was released only in Japan as far as I know and I’m angry about that). This book is a collection of short stories about things Kaim experienced in his thousand years of life. These stories can be found in the game as Kaims memories. Not just once, this stories brought tears to my eyes, because they are so sad and so unbelieveably well written. In fact, they are some of the best written literature I’ve ever read. They are presented as text in the game, but with some nice artwork in the background, some nice sound effects matching the scene, and of course very well composed background music.
The battle system works really good, and although it sounds complicated, it’s not. I like the strategic component added by Front- and Back Row and the huge array of magic spells and skills. The graphics are very good, and first of all the magic effects in batlles look stunning.
All in all this game is one of the best J-RPGs I played in a long time, and I hope there will be more like it in the future.
If you own a XBOX 360 and need a new RPG, buy Lost Odyssey, you can’t go wrong with that.
Rating & Summary:
Graphics: 10 – Graphics are awesome and everything seems “alive”.
Sound: 9 – Sound is really great but nothing extraordinary, except for the voice actors, they are amazing.
Gameplay: 10 – Nothing to complain about here, except that there are people who like open world games more. Those people can subtract a point.
Story: 10 – Well written story and characters and lots of really touching moments.
Overall: 9,8 – Probably the best RPG for X360 at the moment.
That’s it for today, hope you enjoyed,
Keep playing! 🙂