GAME REVIEW | 'Odin Sphere' Returns from Valhalla
Porting classic games has become something of an epidemic during this console generation. What's worse is that, more often than not, these ports act as a reminder of just how far graphics in video games have come across the years. Rare exceptions to this rule do occur and when treated with the proper care, some games shine on the newer platforms. If I hadn't played it back on PS2, and you told me that Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir was a brand new game I would likely believe you. The upgrades they've made to this classic action RPG were smart and the gorgeous graphics, a trademark of Vanillaware, looks as good today as they did back in 2007.
Creating a great HD remake of any game doesn't stop with giving it a visual facelift. Standards change across generations and meaningful updates to small game mechanics can make an old game feel fresh again. The amount of care given to Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir has taken this PS2 classic and brought it gloriously into the current generation. Sporting some impressive graphical upgrades and smart tweaks to various other parts of the game, whether you are a fan of the original or simply love action RPGs, you'll want to check Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir out.
Even when it first came out, the amount of detail poured into the animation for Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir was impressive. Back then, that beauty occasionally came at the price of a reduced frame rate. This certainly wasn't a deal breaker at the time, it mainly happened during the bigger boss battles, but in Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir it sticks to a buttery 60 fps throughout. This takes the already brilliant combat and makes it feel even better than it did, bringing the game to a whole new level. The game does also come with a Classic Mode, if you prefer the original gameplay to the refined, but you'll be out of luck if you, for some reason, are looking for the downgraded graphics as they are both equally gorgeous in both offerings.
Fans of Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir are going to love this release, but if you have yet to try out Vanillaware's Norse-inspired masterpiece, you no longer have an excuse to miss out. Following the stories of several different characters, Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir takes a few cues from Norse mythology. The first section of the game pairs you with a Valkyrie, who just so happens to be the daughter of Odin himself. As you journey through her story, you'll actually meet many of the other characters you'll be controlling throughout the game. Each story intersects with one another culminating in one grand tale that I cannot recommend enough.
Combat has been improved from the original version, which helps to make each character feel unique. Chaining together air combos to get as high a score as possible in each fight, you get better loot for a higher rank, this led me to revisit fights so I could always get that coveted S rank. There are even some new added skills for each individual character, which differentiates the cast even further, keeping each section feeling fresh. Unleashing the ultimate attack, as a fan of badass JRPG attacks, is always satisfying, especially when it clears a particularly crowded screen.
Leveling up in Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is likely one of my favorite from any RPG. While you do gain some experience while battling, largely you will gain levels from eating. Enemies will often drop seeds, you'll find them everywhere in fact, and you can literally plant them anywhere. From here, you simply feed the phozons dropped by defeated enemies and they will grow various fruit and even one that somehow grows some sheep. In every rest area, you can also find my good buddy Maury who will whip you up some delicious dishes from the various recipes you can find in the world. You get massive EXP boosts from these and it's a ton of fun every time to see him whip an entire dining set out of the sack he carries around with him.
- Game lends itself perfectly to upscaled graphics
- Updates to combat and customization are smart and add depth
- Beautiful soundtrack
- Doesn't deviate from what made the original release great
- PS2 version purists can't downgrade visuals
- Too easy to get stuck just doing the same combo
- Inventory management could be better
Having been raised mostly on turn-based RPGs, I've found it hard to not turn my nose up at action RPGs sometimes. That being said, Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is one of the best RPGs I have ever played. It brings enough heart, character, action and fun to the table for a heaping helping of Maury-cooked greatness that doesn't feel like it has aged a day. Both Atlus and Vanillaware have given a master class in how to port a classic game with Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir by not only improving it graphically, but smartly updating things like combat and character upgrades. If you've never played Odin Sphere, and you enjoy great RPGs, then you deserve to pick this game up. Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is available now for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita.
Review code provided by John Hardin of Atlus.