Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Incognito's RPG Impressions: Odin Sphere

Odin Sphere is here! Huzzah! I've spent 90 minutes with it so far, and I feel like I have a good enough feel for it to post some initial impressions.

This is one of the most beautiful games ever. Period. Trying to describe it with words won't do it justice, nor will YouTube-quality video captures. No, to really appreciate it, you have to see it in person.

Avenger posted the quote from the WorthPlaying review in which they lament the monotony of the combat. After playing it, I have to wonder if they played for more than thirty minutes. I'll admit that I was getting a little bit bored near the end of the first chapter, where the only battle diversion is planting seeds and harvesting their fruit. However, once you start the second chapter you gain access to alchemy, allowing you to fabricate wondrous potions and explosives from Mandragoras. The ability to fashion offensive items on the fly is an immediate upgrade to the entertainment value of the game. Plus, I still haven't learned how to cook, so I've yet to reach the height of my item creation powers.

So far, my only two gripes with the battle system are largely superficial. Your character seems to have very slippery shoes: accelerating is a painfully slow process, and you always slide for a bit when you try to stop. This is also problematic for reasons other than movement/evasion, since in order to use an item or cast a spell, you must be completely motionless. This led me to rapidly tap the menu buttons when I wanted to open a menu, to assure I opened it as soon as possible. These things became less noticeable as I got more familiar with the system's wrinkles, but I doubt the controls will ever feel as tight as I think they should.

As of right now, my final verdict is this: B-. As I mentioned before, this is one of the most breathtaking games of all time. This can not be discounted, and it could be the factor that keeps me going with it. However, I think the loose controls in the battlefield will prevent me from ever playing it for more than an hour of two at a time; eventually I'll get tired of sliding around like a dog on a frozen pond, and I'll have to put the controller down. With Atelier Iris 3 less than a week away, Odin Sphere will really have to hook me to assure that I go back to it when I get distracted in the coming weeks. As of the first 90 minutes, that magic moment hasn't come yet, but I'm not throwing in the towel after round one.

This won't be the last you'll hear from me about Odin Sphere, one way or the other.

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