Lost Odyssey is a pretty damn good looking game. The team at Mistwalker Studios and feelplus made an excellent use of the Unreal 3 Engine. And a lot of the reviews that complain about massive load times or bad frame-rate must have been on pre-production builds as I never experienced a load time longer than five seconds. There are occasional frame-rate drops but it’s not in the realm of unplayable like some have made it out to be. The colors are bright and vibrant and don’t suffer too much from earthy-tone syndrome that some games are guilty of. There are also no shiny textures to speak of (unless there needs to be, like with ice), which is a nice touch as well, as that’s another look that needs to go with all these next-generation visuals. Some of the monsters are huge and massively detailed, and surprisingly aren’t recycled all the much through the game, at most I think you see one palette swap of a given monster in the game.
Music in Lost Odyssey is sort of a big deal when you have a name like Nobuo Uematsu attached to the title, and he really does not disappoint in the slightest. His musical efforts are classic Uematsu, which you’ll feel right out of the gates when you hear the opening theme on the title screen. His battle music is also highly recognizable as his style, especially when you get into boss fights, some of which are driving rock tracks while others feel a bit more epic, and thankfully there are no tracks like “This is the Beginning,” though the ending theme by Sheena Easton does come from out of nowhere. The final boss battle in particular emphasizes how massive and important this fight is, which some games these days don’t do so well.
An RPG can live or die by its combat system, and Lost Odyssey for the most part feels like it’s trying to doggie paddle in the middle of a deep pool. Overall it is the hardest thing to like about the game. It’s a slow, plodding dinosaur of a system that makes me appreciate Valkyrie Profile and Chrono Trigger more than ever. Combat in Lost Odyssey is a typical turn based affair, you queue up your actions and then your guys cut loose. The problem is that the setup time feels like it takes ages to complete, and then when the combat actually begins you spend a lot of time waiting for everything to happen. Which is odd because the team that worked on this has Shadow Hearts in their previous resume, and of course having that on your resume means you are going to include rings in the system somehow. Lost Odyssey does have a ring based system, once you attack you charge your character’s attack by holding the right trigger button and based upon when you release the trigger you can perform extra damage or steal from your enemies. It helps break the tedium of waiting for things to happen, but if the combat were just faster, then this wouldn’t be an issue. As a comparison, battles in Persona 3 were lightning quick and yet they follow the same formula used in Lost Odyssey.
To sum up Lost Odyssey in one word, I would have to use “Safe.” It doesn’t do anything magical, in terms of combat or storytelling, but it does them well enough to be an above average title that is enjoyable. Some of the themes of tragedy can come off as a little forced as the game drives onward towards its finish as it hints at future titles. But that’s what you do when you want to build a franchise. And I for one will be happy to play them, so long as Mistwalker can speed up the combat, and not try to make us sit there and feel sorry all the time for a guy who’s never going to die. Well, at least he’s more likable than the entire cast of Blue Dragon.
Lost Odyssey doesn't break the JRPG mold, but it does fill it out quite nicely with a strong story and great characters.
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