Odin Sphere was originally released on the PlayStation 2 back in 2008 in Europe. While it always seems to be held in high regard, being released during the PS2’s decline due to the release of the PlayStation 3 two years prior, it probably never received the wide acclaim it should. That being said, I never got to play Odin Sphere; my focus was very firmly on the newer console and I appear to have missed out on a fantastic game. That is until now – with the HD remaster titled Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, I finally get to play one of the greatest games released on the PS2 but how does it compare to the original?
The story is played out in chapters that are separated by five different characters, each being a member of one of the five different warring nations in the world of Erion. The story of each of the playable protagonists is intertwined with one another, giving multiple perspectives on the same storyline. I personally love stories like this, following different characters through the same storyline offers up some great scope for different views and motivations. You start the game as Gwendolyn but as you progress you’ll unlock chapters for other characters. Characters, of course, cross over and in Gwendolyn’s perspective, another protagonist in Velvet plays a semi-antagonist role. The chapter-opening and ending segments feature some great storytelling accompanied by some very good voice acting (both English and Japanese).
The main meat of the game is played through chapters and each chapter consists of a stage spilt into many smaller areas. You’ll start in one area and progress onto others with many spawning multiple routes until you reach the final boss area. There are mid-boss areas along the way as well as optional side routes that generally hold some good treasure. It’s definitely worth your time exploring all areas within a stage as important items can be found anywhere. While some stages can feel overly long I feel that they work really well and given that they are not completely linear definitely helps. Boss fights are challenging and really fun, the constant influx of regular enemies during the boss fight also helps to keep you on your toes and not just blindly hacking away.
I have to say that the levelling system in Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is a really fun distraction from just speeding through stages. It works by firstly defeating enemies when defeated they release Phozons which you in turn absorb. Once you have a good amount of Phozons it’s time to get gardening, seriously, there are various seeds that when planted and fed with Phozons grow fruit which when eaten provides you with EXP, HP etc… There is a range of different seeds that offer different boosts in EXP and it couldn’t be a more enjoyable system. The fun doesn’t end there though, as there is another way to gain that all-important experience points and it’s in the form of the equally fun travelling restaurant. That’s right – at certain points in a stage, you’ll come across a bell that you can ring in order to dine at a travelling restaurant. What you eat depends on recipes you have collected and whether you have the right ingredients.
Phozons do have other uses other than levelling your character, they can also be used to level your skills. Also, when you level your character you’ll get ability points to spend on – you guessed it, abilities. I touched on battles in regards to boss fights earlier and generally, the battle system is very enjoyable. The action is very smooth and fast-paced, the speed at which you can instantly change direction and deal enormous damage chains is extremely satisfying. Skill can be set to shortcuts of your choosing which gives you greater control over how you play. I honestly cannot fault this battle system – I love it.
If you haven’t seen any promotional materials for Odin Sphere Leifthrasir then you’re in for a treat because it looks amazing. Truly a brilliant art style full of vibrant and dynamic colour range it’s a real treat for the eyes. Accompanying the visuals are two audio tracks, both English and Japanese, which do an absolutely fantastic job of bringing the characters to life. No matter which audio option you choose to go with you’ll be in very good hands.
I’ve used a number of words throughout this review in an effort to praise various aspects of the game but none really express my thoughts well enough so they’ll have to do. Amazing, brilliant, fantastic – this game is all of those and more!