Odin Sphere Leifthrasir Review
Developer Vanillaware has had some great success recently with games like Muramasa and Dragon’s Crown, but it’s one of their first games, 2007’s Odin Sphere on the PS2, that set that table and showed what this developer could do. Originally a PS2 game, Odin Sphere has now been remastered in HD for the PS4, PS3, and even the PS Vita, and Odin Sphere Leifthrasir has never run smoother or looked and sounded better.
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir tells six (or seven) different stories, with five different characters, each with six or so chapters (and prologues and epilogues), and each chapter is broken down into parts. Each story is from a book, with a new character to play in each book, which forms one big story that is steeped in Norse mythology — think less Thor, and more of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung.
The side scroller employs button-mashing combat, and rewards players for lengthy combos (my record so far is 300-plus hits, but that’s just me). The five character’s different fighting styles and weapons (there are Valkyries, pookas, fairies, and even shadow knights), with each weapon (spears, swords, arrows, etc.) being a Psypher, which can suck up the souls — or “phozons” — of the fallen to be used to strengthen weapons and buy new skills.
The game world is broken down into various stage maps that can be explored (as well as a 2D side-scroller can be) and battle stages with enemies, mini-bosses, and even huge map bosses that need to be dealt with. Each battle stage is rated, with the rewards earned based off your score. And just as one character’s story ends, another one begins, and they even overlap in places telling a much greater story. As an example, in the first book, focused on the Valkyrie, Gwendolyn, the character of Velvet is an enemy, but in Velvet’s story later on, the same story is told from the other side, where Gwendolyn is now the enemy. Because of this, the game never gets boring, even after constant button mashing in epic boss battles. This is impressive for a game running on nearly 10 year old technology.
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is a rather lengthy game, taking around 30-35 hours to complete, and that’s without partaking in any of the fun, addictive crafting and cooking side quests. Players can even raise chickens for eggs (and later meat) for crafting and for sustenance, and instead of taking long period of time, the whole raising process happens on one screen. It’s pretty deep. The player also dictates how skills are earned and updated, and both passive and active skills can be unlocked with hidden scrolls scattered throughout the world.
The HD remaster makes the graphics just pop off the screen, and there is zero slow down now, meaning the action and combat is fast and furious. I’ve been playing both the PS4 and the PS Vita versions and they run nearly identical, which is a feat in and of itself. The art direction and color palette just explodes off the screens, and creates a unique experience in a story that has tragedy and loss at every turn.
The music and voice acting are both good, with the music really shining here. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is kind of addictive, as when I boot it up, I have to force myself to stop playing at the end of my session, which is a Vanillaware calling card. The level and game design just constantly pushes the player to keep playing, and that’s okay. An hour long session has quickly turned into a three and four hour session, and the time just flies, as the game is deceptively fun and exciting to play.
Usually, I would take this time to discuss any differences between the PS4 and PS Vita versions, but again, they run almost identical. I’m not sure if this a green check mark for the power of the Vita, or it says something about the PS4 version, but having played both, it’s not even an issue. Both versions are wonderful.
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is another in a long line of older classic games getting the remaster love. This is great for gamers who may have missed the games on the first run, and the updated graphics — and usually the addition of any DLC — makes these remastered games THE absolute definitive version to play. Much like SEGA’s recent Valkyria Chronicles and even Sony’s Ratchet & Clank, which is more of a remake than a remaster, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is an amazing gaming experience, and one that any gamer should not pass up.
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is available now on the PS4, PS3, and PS Vita game systems. This review is based off of review codes for the PS4 and PS Vita provided by Atlus, the publisher.
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