An Unbiased Review of Odin Sphere

Five Things That Sucked:

1. The Viewable Battle Area

One jump and she’s already partially off-screen

Each battlefield is a huge loop (indicated in the bottom-right corner), yet all you can see at any given time is a small rectangular portion of it (indicated in the upper-right corner). It’s barely large enough to contain Gwendolyn and a Unicorn Knight. Now imagine how annoying it is to fight larger enemies, multiple enemies, enemies with long-range attacks, or any combination thereof.

2. Lag

I was warned about the lag. Repeatedly. But it wasn’t a problem at all—until the battles that mattered most.

3. Time required to enter the Pooka Kitchen

Never in the seven years I’ve owned a PS2 have I complained about loading times—until now. In the above video:

  • 0:00 – Gwendolyn enters the Pooka Village
  • 0:28 – Gwendolyn enters the Pooka Kitchen
  • 0:30 – The background music begins
  • 0:33-0:39 – A title screen informing us that we’re entering the Pooka Kitchen
  • 0:40-1:00 – Now loading…
  • 1:01 – Welcome!
  • 1:07 – Oh, you have a new recipe!
  • 1:11 – What can I get you today?
  • 1:14 – Play finally resumes
  • 1:38 – Background music loops

If you’re already in the Pooka Village and don’t have a new recipe: 42 seconds

If you’re coming from outside the Pooka Village and have a new recipe: 1 minute and 14 seconds

If you’re coming from outside the Pooka Village, go to the Pooka Kitchen, check out the Rabbit Cafe, and then decide you’re better off eating at the Pooka Kitchen: 3+ minutes

4. Velvet’s attack power

Velvet’s attacks look awesome. Too bad they’re weak as shit. Based on playing times for each book, my best characters were:

  1. Oswald (numerous deaths)
  2. Cornelius (numerous deaths)
  3. Mercedes (numerous deaths)
  4. Velvet (innumerous deaths)
  5. Gwendolyn (innumerous deaths)

Taking into account the order of play and the learning curve, my best characters were:

  1. Cornelius (played second)
  2. Oswald (played fourth)
  3. Mercedes (played third)
  4. Gwendolyn (played first)
  5. Velvet (played fifth)

Velvet was the only character I had to grind in order to complete her book. In retrospect, I should’ve grinded Gwendolyn too. I still don’t know how I beat her book at level 28/23 (with two of those Psypher levels gained on Odette). For the record, I played on “Normal” mode and the learning curve still kicked my ass.

5. The POW Gauge

(See the Leventhan video below for an example of how much it sucks)

Basically, you get dizzy if you unleash too many consecutive attacks. How many is too many? About four combos. Yeah, that’s it. “An affront to the gamer“? I couldn’t have said it better myself. Whatever happened to the good old days of infinite ammunition?

Five Things That Rocked:

1. Leventhan, The Last Dragon

Leventhan is without a doubt the cutest character in video game history. Look at his majestic crown, infinite destructive power, and huge balls of fire. It’s like he’s my spitting image, and considering all the dragons I banged in my younger days, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.

2. The Plot

The ultimate fairy tale revealed bit by bit across five commingling storylines, all building up to the Armageddon. Need I go on?

3. Sensible Feminism

Gwendolyn stands up to her controlling father. Mercedes stands up to her controlling cousin. Velvet stands up to the controlling ghost of her controlling grandfather. Unlike the nitpicking, mixed-message feminism that annoys everyone, feminist messages in Odin Sphere such as “I AM NOT AN OBJECT!” are the kind everyone can stand behind.

4. Ingway

Ingway spends the whole story hating people and propagating malice, except during the frog arc when he’s a total player, seduces the fairy queen, and then walks away because he’s not a pedophile. It’s a shame he wasn’t playable.

5. Multiple Endings

At first, the character order for the “good end” seemed random. After beating the game, it still seems random. But if you don’t make any of the meaningful “bad end” selections, you miss out on some pretty interesting dialogue. Does that mean it’s worth playing through all the endings? No, just watch them on YouTube.

Five Things I’m Indifferent About:

1. The Artwork

Whatever

The art was cool, I guess. I’d love to fawn over it like everyone else, but frankly, if the graphics aren’t grainy, pixelated, or simplistically polygonal, it’s all the same to me.

2. Music

Like in Shadow of the Colossus, I was too busy running for my life to notice the soundtrack, so I shall assume it was satisfactory unless someone informs me otherwise.

3. Alice & Socrates

What’s the point of Socrates anyway? So you can see the cute wittle girl picking up the cute wittle kitty cat? God damn pedophiles.

4. English vs. Japanese Voice Acting

I never second-guessed my decision to play the game dubbed until I beat the game and saw in the credits—you guessed it—Mamiko Fucking Noto.

Not that valley girl Mercedes was bad or anything, but damn, I can’t believe I missed my chance to slay dragons as a soft-spoken girl voiced by Mamiko Noto. What really kills me is that I should’ve seen it coming since Mercedes is the basically the same character as Cordelia from Valkyria Chronicles.

5. Living off the Land

Growing your own food and transmuting your own items is a pain the ass at first, but once you get a system in place, it’s…tolerable. It’s a lot of bitch work, but when you consider all the bitch work that other RPGs typically require, item management as the only significant non-fighting task isn’t so bad. A few tips:

  • Don’t be conservative about using items. They’re usually worth more than their pawn value.
  • Sell shit you know you’re not going to use. If possible, sell shit you expect to easily recover later.
  • Need to get rid of some items? No salesmen nearby? Use your extra items to level up your materials. They’ll come in handy eventually.
  • Don’t worry about being efficient. If you try to solve the knapsack problem after every stage, you’ll never get anywhere.