Game Reviews

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Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is a beautiful high definition remake of the original PlayStation 2 RPG Odin Sphere. The original Odin Sphere was already one of the most colorful and gorgeous 2D role playing games on the market but the remake features many enhancements to the art, animation, and the overall gameplay. Both the original Odin Sphere and the remake Leifthrasir were developed by Vanillaware and published by Atlus in Japan and North America. The remake will be localized to Europe by NIS America and Australia by Bandai Namco instead of Atlus who is handling both the Japanese and North American releases. The original Odin Sphere was released in Japan late May 2007 then it was released to North America only days later also Late May 2007. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir has already been released in Japan as of early January 2016 while both the North American and European localizations will be out June. The North American localization will be published early June 2016 on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita. The European localization of the game will be released late June 2016 for the same systems. This review will focus primarily on the PlayStation 4 release of the game.

The story is the same as it was in the original and the game will still be split into seven chapters each focusing on a different character. Each character is equally important to the story from beginning to end due to the unique circumstances each character faces that ultimately ties their fates together in some way or another. The first chapter focuses on the character Gwendolyn who the daughter of King Odin who rules over the kingdom of Ragnanival. Gwendolyn is also a brave and noble Valkyrie who bravely fought alongside her sister Griselda against the fairies. After Griselda is killed she leaves her special weapon with Gwendolyn but soon after in a twist of events Gwendolyn is exiled from the kingdom by her own father. During the time of her punishment she was also wed to the shadow knight Oswald who had previously spared her life. The other chapters focus on Cornelius the prince of Titania, Mercedes the new queen of the fairies, Oswald the shadow knight, and Velvet the princess of a ruined kingdom. Cornelius is transformed into a cute rabbit-like creature known as a pooka and sent to the netherworld due to Velvet’s brother disapproving their relationship.

 

Mercedes becomes the queen of the fairies after her mother was killed in battle by Odin. After becoming queen she is approached by a prince turned into a frog who asks her for a kiss but he instead ends up helping her protect her kingdom. Oswald’s soul was traded in exchange for a special weapon in order for him to become a powerful mercenary for the fairies. After killing many of Odin’s people in the battle at the beginning he attempts to kill Gwendolyn but falls in love with her instead and she is forced to wed him. Velvet is an illegitimate daughter of King Odin due to his relations with the queen of their previous enemy kingdom Valentine. Both the queen and the kingdom Valentine were destroyed and only Velvet and her brother are left. The final two chapters focus on all of the characters together in which the characters must fight to save the world from destruction. The story does have a secret ending but there are specific requirements to achieve that ending.

The gameplay mechanics in Odin Sphere Leifthrasir are a mix of mechanics found in the original Odin Sphere, Dragon’s Crown, and Muramasa Rebirth. As it is in the original the battlefields are all ring shaped and only allow side scrolling movement. Many of the other game mechanics from the original are also in the remake with major improvements. The biggest changes to the game are additions of new game modes such as the New Game Plus mode known in the game as Xtra New Game and the addition of the Boss Rush Mode. The Xtra New Game Mode allows you to play through the game again from the very beginning with your ability level and items from the end of your last play through. If you play through again with Xtra New Game Mode the enemies will be the same ones but far more difficult. The Boss Rush Mode allows you to fight in thirty straight rounds of battle against boss and mini boss enemies in the game. Each of the boss monsters will be set at level fifty and there will be no checkpoints but sounds it fun if you are looking for a challenge, right? Another addition to the game is the Hell Difficulty which is great if the highest difficulty in the original wasn’t enough. In Hell difficulty you will be unable to increase your hit points from the base two hundred points.

Other changes to the game include new skills with improved skill trees for the characters and added stages. The new skills add more action to the game and also improve the gameplay with new high quality animations. The new stages add more gameplay time and add to the overall replay value of the game. Also, for fans who prefer the old style of gameplay but want the updated graphics there is an option to play the game in its classic style. The highly important alchemy and cooking systems have also been improved greatly from the original. You can now mix existing potions with items instead of only items with materials to create powerful potions to use in battle. Even more importantly, you can create potions without a recipe which allows you to mix and match items, potions, and material however you want. The cooking system is pretty much the same as it was in the original but now there are rest stops where you can cook at certain points. All of the changes to the mechanics add significantly to the overall gameplay and make an already great game feel refreshing and new. There are of course some mechanics in the game have been left exactly the same as they were in the original.

Another major improvement to the game is the change to beautiful high definition graphics. The high definition graphics make an already gorgeous game even more vibrant and lively. One of the most notable features of the original was the colorful and unique graphics throughout the entire game. Now we can relive the experience with enhanced graphics that are equally vibrant but clearer and more detailed than ever before. The original did have one major weakness which is heavily improved in Leifthrasir. While the art in the original was also amazing there were many issues when it came to the frame rates and especially the issue of severe lagging during intense and high action battles. The animation in the remake is nearly flawless and the frame rate is noticeably better. Now with higher speed during actions the game feels more exciting and far less frustrating particularly during boss battles. The updates to the quality of the graphics and animation add the most to the gameplay and are one of the remake’s strongest points.

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is a great improvement upon the original in many ways. The game gives us new features that make the game worth buying regardless if you have the original or not. The only other improvements I would have liked to see are some way to further customize characters and more character interactions. I highly recommend this game to fans of the original as well as newcomers to the role playing game genre. For newcomers it is sure to be a game that presents itself beautifully in every way from the art and music to the enchanting story. Never before have I seen a remake that is able to enhance the beauty of the original rather than turn it into a game that is unrecognizable.

 

Second Thoughts (Solomon Lee):

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is an even prettier game than I remember as a result of the stellar visuals on each of the respective platforms: PS4, PS3 and PlayStation Vita. The game incorporates elements from other Vanillaware games like Muramasa Rebirth and Dragon’s Crown. As the original Odin Sphere was exceptional in its own right, they have managed to improve upon the game while still making it feel modern and exciting. Having owned the PlayStation 2 version, I’m relieved that Vanillaware was committed to adding more features rather than settling for merely better visuals. The new stages are a welcome addition making Leifthrasir the definitive version to own for RPG fans who missed out on the game during the PS2 era. If you’re sitting on the fence, buy this game right away as it is one of the finest titles to have graced the PlayStation 2 console that is now available for all of Sony’s respective platforms. The visual fidelity and framerates are solid and consistent in every version with the Vita title being no exception. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is a real gem and RPGs with this combination of gorgeous graphics and intricate gameplay are increasingly rare and should not be overlooked.

 

Pros: Gorgeous Graphics, Beautiful Soundtrack, New Features

Cons: Lack of Character Customization

 

SCORE – 9.5/10

This review is based on a digital copy of Odin Sphere Leifthrasir on the PlayStation 4 provided by Atlus.

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