Odin Sphere

PS2
Release date: 13 March 2008
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Square Enix

Overview

Experience a beautiful storybook fantasy through the eyes of five characters.

Odin Sphere delivers a lavishly illustrated world of fantasy, interlacing five individual tales across a 2D action role-playing game to tell an epic story.

The nations of Erion always held an uneasy peace, as the various kings and queens watched each other for any signs of weakness. And when the country of Valentine is obliterated by the power of an ancient artefact, it sparks a bloody war between the fairies of Ringford and the warriors of Ragnanival. Little do they know that they are acting out a long forgotten prophecy: one that, if fulfilled, will lead to the destruction of the entire world...

Initially taking control of the warrior princess Gwendolyn, daughter of Odin, your job is to follow the threads of an intricately woven story as you uncover the truth behind the prophecy - and how to bring it to an end.

  • Play as five different characters, each with their own abilities and storyline
  • Experience a powerful orchestral score from Hitoshi Sakimoto, composer of Final Fantasy XII
  • Enjoy fully voiced dialogue, with the option to choose between English or the original Japanese vocal track

Preview

The one-eyed man is king

Square Enix is known for its sprawling role-playing games, but here's something a little different from its turn-based efforts as Odin Sphere welcomes all to its lavishly illustrated pages...

There's something magical about Odin Sphere that is evident from the very first time you load it - the 2D graphics represent some of the most beautiful visuals seen on any system. There's a wonderful hand drawn fairy tale quality to them - and this isn't by accident. Square Enix wants to envelop you within its storybook look, not just on a visual level but on a gameplay one as well. So your opening task isn't in the typical form of helping some cocky fresh faced warrior on his initiation day, but gently guiding a young girl called Alice to a book and a comfortable seat to begin the tale of five characters in a fantastical adventure of swords and sorcery... 

Sphere of influence

Odin Sphere is a brave blend of genres, effectively created as an action role-playing game but played from a side-scrolling perspective common to something seen in 2D beat 'em ups. You direct your chosen character around each environment, fighting enemies using special magic and combination attacks across the air and ground - but button mashing will only result in your protagonist tiring, so measured strokes and tactics are key.

At the same time, each enemy you successfully defeat and the more energy-regaining foods you consume increase your statistics, leading you to gain levels and improve your characters across their health and abilities. It's this mix of elements from well known genres that gives the game a strong sense of style and a rather unique identity aided by its focus on storybook sensibilities and the development of its cast.

The plot of this Atlus/Vanillaware developed title is more complex than first appears, primarily telling the tale of a war between the fairies of Ringford and the warriors of Ragnanival as they unwittingly slope towards a long forgotten prophecy that could potentially lead to the destruction of their entire world. Initially you control the warrior princess Gwendolyn, daughter of Odin, but as things unfold other characters come under your control, giving you four more perspectives to play from.

Pantheon par excellence

Each character has their own move-set and skills to use as they proceed through their relevant chapters, adding a healthy helping of variety as you progress through the rather large and challenging adventure. Boss encounters require you to make full use of the techniques learned throughout the expansive and cleverly designed maps (where each sub-section wraps around full circle so you'll never get lost), while a keen understanding of the items you find or purchase is paramount to survival.

It's the sheer amount of depth on offer within Odin Sphere that makes it as engaging to play as it is to behold. There's certainly more here than just luscious graphics (where the scenery is as motion heavy and detailed as the beautifully rendered characters) and lovely effects, and that's why Square Enix's title remains captivating throughout. It's helped by convincingly voiced dialogue and a sweepingly majestic orchestral score that encompasses the moods of triumph and tragedy that will envelop you - it should be of no surprise to learn that the composer, Hitoshi Sakimoto, was also behind the drama and emotion laden score of Final Fantasy XII. 

Odin Sphere is a fantastic journey into what can only be described as a storybook brought to videogame life. It's extremely well crafted and exhales a welcome breath of fresh air into the numerous genres it borrows from, yet maintains a distinctiveness that's as entrancing as its visuals. Like any good tale, this is one magical experience to truly treasure.


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