Thursday, June 14, 2007

VG review: Odin Sphere

Atlus, for PlayStation 2
rated T for Teen (fantasy violence, mild language, suggestive themes, use of alcohol), $39.99.

Most games these days are content to provide you with one main character and a linear, by-the-numbers experience that usually involves shooting things.

"Odin Sphere,” on the other hand, gives you five characters, a story that moves backward and forward in time and grapples with such weighty themes as war, sacrifice, filial duty and other angsty issues, all wrapped up in a cute, candy-colored exterior.

You start off the game as Gwendolyn, a Valkyrie warrior, determined to win her father’s love, even if it means dying on the battlefield.

Her father, also the king, is seeking a powerful weapon that might turn the tide of a long drawn-out war but which could also destroy the planet. Despite this, Gwendolyn sets herself on a quest to retrieve it.

Once you finish Gwendolyn’s story, supporting characters take the center stage and fill in various plot strands (I didn’t get the chance to complete Gwen’s tale yet, so don’t ask me what they are).

The game boasts a truly stunning art style, despite taking place in only two dimensions. The colors are crisp and lush, the scenery is well-detailed and each character bears a unique and appealing design.

The game is essentially a beat-¤’em-up, as you travel through various circular landscapes (i.e. run in one direction and you’ll eventually return to where you started) and dispatch enemies by rapidly hitting the square button. A bit of strategy is added by collecting “phonzons,” which let you cast a number of magic spells.

You also can collect various items and create potions and recipes that improve your health and
increase your strength. Unfortunately, space in your backpack is limited, and trying to manage items on the fly can swiftly become irksome.

The game’s challenge bar is set high, and you might get frustrated with some of the harder levels. Don’t be surprised if after a couple of hours you set the difficulty level to “easy” (you can always reset it back later).

The game also suffers from a frame rate problem in that whenever a large group of monsters swarms the screen the game characters seem to be moving in slow motion.

But those problems are minor considering how well the game meets its far-reaching goals. There’s more than a bit of repetition to “Odin Sphere,” but the high level of craftsmanship on display keeps things from becoming rote.

With a summer full of dull, half-conceived titles, “Odin Sphere” is an oasis in a desert of underwhelming movie tie-ins.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2007



At 2:20 PM, Blogger ryan said...

hey dude...

send me your address if you want your same hat booklet :)


At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Indian Pharmacy said...

It looks like Muramasa, I hope that it keeps the glorious of the old action jrpgs games, that I grew up with.


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