Odin Sphere (Second Opinion)
PlayStation 2
Reviewed: 07/26/2007

The RPG genre is one in which there is almost limitless room for innovation. Unfortunately, it is quite often that games within the genre don’t attempt anything new. Just as unfortuante are the games that try so many things that nothing works together. There are, however, some games that seem to get it all right. Odin Sphere is one such game.

Odin Sphere‘s story is told in a highly Shakespearean manner. The story is serious and the characters take it seriously. There are many points throughout the game where the five main characters’ tales interact, and it is interesting to see, as players progress throughout the game, how they get to the points in the story where they are seen interacting with the others. The story also has two endings, but fortunately the ending which is considered “best” by some is easily unlocked, though it is recommended one look at a guide if they wish to get both endings.

The best part of the story, however, is the emotion with which it is told. The Shakespearean fashion in which it is told is readily apparent when characters have what is referred to in acting as an “aside.” Each character has different ways that this happens. Gwendolyn, for example, has a bird that talks to her, which is inexplicably part of her. It is through these inner dialogues that players learn much about the characters they are playing as. It helps too that the characters are relatable. There are coming-of-age characters, characters in love, characters with tragedy. All are here. The story is so well done it is almost unimaginable not to recommend this game to any fan of RPGs who enjoys a good storyline. It is political, it is personal, and it is bliss.

Screen Shot
There is no way to do justice to how good this game looks.

With its use of combos, fast action, food, and Psyphers the gameplay of Odin Sphere is extremely unique. Often times it is a Psypher ability that leads to overcoming the seemingly insurmountable odds of masses of enemies on screen. It is this large number of enemies on screen that can sometimes lead to slowdown, one of the game’s few faults. Only in a few places did this seem potentially fatal, the slowdown is more an annoyance than anything else, and it is certainly not enough to cast a serious blemish on this otherwise fantastic game.

One huge part of the game is eating. Players will want to pig out on food as much as possible throughout the game, as it is not only an excellent way to restore HP, but also the only way to increase their characters’ HP. The system is well realized and is a highly unique and efficient way to handle experience.

Another awesome aspect of Odin Sphere is its incredible boss fights. The bosses in the game are smart, and many of them definitely require strategy to beat. While some can indeed be beaten by simply running up and hammering away, a more sure victory is won by memorizing attack patterns, learning weaknesses, and careful management of items. The boss fights are truly epic in scope and many require dozens of attempts to defeat. It is rare to see boss fights in any game, let alone an action-RPG require this much strategy, but they do, and it just adds to the incredible experience.

The only real downfall to the game other than some random graphical slowdown is the repetition of stages. There is a limited number of environments, and most characters see just about all of them, albeit with slightly stronger or weaker enemies. This repetition is one of the very few things that mar the overall quality of an exceptional game.

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The game takes itself seriously, despite the state of undress its female characters are in.

The music in Odin Sphere is nothing short of wonderful. Never is it unsuitable for the situation. The tunes even fit the epic scope of the story, helping convey the emotion that characters are feeling at the time. This is not to mention the fantastic voice acting. Every character is voiced extremely well, and only a few NPCs (notably the café pooka) have annoying voices. Battle sound effects are also very well done, with attacks sounding genuine, and blocked attacks sounding as though they’ve actually been blocked. Overall the quality of the sound is simply top-notch.

Odin Sphere is also the artistic graphic lover’s delight. Never before has 2D been done so extremely well. The amount of detail in the characters is amazing, their movements look genuine, they even breathe–often moving every chink in their armor realistically. The backgrounds look stunning, even after going through them multiple times. The characters emotions are clearly shown on their faces. There is really not enough that can possibly be said about how wonderful this game looks. It’s truly a gamer’s dream.

Odin Sphere is easily one of the best RPGs to come out on the PlayStation 2. Despite its unfortunate slowdown and showing the same stages repeatedly, it has an incredible storyline that takes itself seriously is enough to recommend it to fans that need a good story, while its intense gameplay makes it an easy bet for RPG fans that lean towards the gameplay side. Add to it some of the best boss fights in recent memory and incredible production values, and Odin Sphere is a surefire bet for any fan of RPGs. It comes as highly recommended as possible.

-Joseph Wartick

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Excellent
Story Legendary
Graphics Legendary
Sound/Music Excellent
Replay Value Average
The Verdict: 9