Title: Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
Platform: PS4, PS Vita, PS3
Reviewed on: PS4
Genre: Action RPG
Players: Single player
Written by Whistler 2nd July 2016
Despite it’s gorgeous storybook art style and grand story, Odin Sphere was an Action RPG that released fairly late into the PS2’s lifecycle and as a result gone relatively unnoticed for most of us that made the jump to PS3 and Xbox 360.
Now retitled Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, comes to newer consoles with a shiny HD paintjob and some reworks to the mechanical framework. So with its new coat of paint does Odin Sphere now get the recognition it deserves or was it best left forgotten in the annals of Playstation 2 history?
Odin Sphere is a collection of stories telling the epic tale of five characters whose individual stories while seemingly separate, are intertwined within a sprawling war between nations over the control of the enigmatic Crystallization Cauldron. Told through seven books you’ll slowly gain insight into each of the protagonist’s perspectives as you begin to piece together the grand scaling plot. As the multiple tales weave in and out you’ll come to love most of the cast as each varying perspective adds layers of character development. While the story is spread a little thin over the course of the seven books I found myself always playing that tiny bit more just to reach the end of each chapter. Odin Sphere is almost surprising in how endearing it handles the overarching plotlines and the varying grey tones through helped make the cast feel all the more human.
Played from a side scrolling perspective, each book sees you play one of the five main characters as you battle through enemies and explore various interconnected rooms. With each character’s arc coming in at roughly between 4-
Thankfully the biggest string to this remastered title’s bow is the fully revamped combat system. While granted combat is a little on the button mashing simplistic side, there’s enough variety to keep it enjoyable as you unlock several spells, special moves and passive skills.
A massive change that I’m very much thankful for is the reworked POW and PP gauges; basic attacks no longer consume POW (excluding Mercedes who utilizes a reload mechanic) nor are you stunned once your POW is emptied. Thanks to this combat is fluid and easy to pick up where skills consume POW and spells cost PP allowing you to string together massive spectacular combos.
It is odd though that Odin Sphere retains a rather unique and quirky method for leveling up. Coupled with the standard combat experience leveling up, experience points can be gained through eating meals largely obtained from planting seeds. Once planted you can release phozons (a life force gained from fallen enemies and certain items) to bring the plants to bloom then consume the fruit they bear. Consuming meals through this method or the traveling chef will raise your maximum HP and garners a lot of experience points in the process. Phozons can also be spent to upgrade unlocked abilities that increase their potency or stats.
The game heavily promotes gathering materials and combining them with glass flasks to concoct a variety of alchemic potions such as health tonics, antidotes as well as toxic bombs and fire spirits. It’s certainly fun to be able to create potions on the fly to turn the tables, the inventory system (and by extension the eating mechanic) is incredibly cumbersome. You’ll quickly end up having to chuck or waste items just to free up some space.
Visuals are a fantastic treat for the eyes as Odin Sphere touts an impressively unique watercolor story book art style with lush environments and lively characters. All of which runs at a fantastic frame rate even when the onscreen activities get rather chaotic that helps keep you immersed especially thanks to Hitoshi Sakimoto’s musical scoring. It must be said though that after several hours into the third book, Odin Sphere does start to feel repetitive both in terms of visuals and especially gameplay. You’ll notice by the time you’re playing the third character that stages get heavily reused for story reasons along with bosses and enemy variants. I feel perhaps gaining access to the other characters earlier than finishing a book would help keep things fresher and if some areas were trimmed slightly then these issues would have been alleviated.
While the game does have it’s niggling issues, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is still an utterly brilliant action RPG that I’m glad was brought back from the PS2 era. While the gameplay does stiffen over the course of its 40 hour playtime you’ll want to stay for the unique visuals and well developed level of story depth. Vanillaware have brought Odin Sphere to a modern platform without sacrificing any of its charm and offering a Classic mode for those who just want the updated visuals.
Fantastic colourful visuals,
Grand story told through several perspectives,
Somewhat repetitive gameplay,
Leveling up can be a chore,
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir scores a solid 7.5/10.