Odin Sphere

Review

posted 7/5/2007 by Matt Mirkovich
other articles by Matt Mirkovich
One Page Platforms: PS2
Thankfully this isn’t the only thing to do in the game. You’ve also got a fairly expansive alchemy and cooking system that is used to augment your powers. Throughout the game you’ll find base materials, and by mixing them with items, be it food, seeds, or equipment you can create new alchemic mixes that have a myriad of effects. Though a lot of your focus early on should be on the Painkiller, it will halve the damage you take and make it harder to knock your character down. Your abilities with alchemy are truly put to the test in Heroic mode as you’re constantly trying to balance out the consumption of food between using it for Alchemy or increasing your hit points. Though a little tip, shoot for the level ninety alchemy mixes as they will spit out the most Phozons after creating a new mixture. 
The cooking and food system is a fairly fun little diversion that I found myself dedicating quite a lot of time to. Eating food is the primary way hit points are increased for each of the characters, as food gives the hit points a set value of experience points. Food can be grown out on the battlefield with Phozons going in to seeds planted in the ground. This will mostly yield fruit, which you can consume on the spot for a little bit of experience, or you can wait for a village restaurant and café to open up, and when you go there you can pay some money to have the food prepared in a way that will give you a much higher amount of experience.
 
One of the other problems with Odin Sphere is replayability. That’s not to say that there isn’t any it’s just that there is a bit of a hassle involved near the final chapters of the game. Basically once a chapter is complete you can revisit it, however you must start from the very beginning. This wound up being especially frustrating because I had all the materials I needed, all I had to do was get to the café and make some food and I would be ready to go. Instead I have to play through the four chapters I already had done before, granted I rolled through them because I was powered up. But not being able to specify what chapters I wanted to replay is a bit of a downer, especially at the end when you need to go back and prepare specific alchemy mixes so that the final boss battles are a little bit more manageable.
 
This game is also mercilessly hard. As you’re trying to figure out the nuances of alchemy and food growing, monsters can and will kick your ass. Some of the enemy patterns are also maddeningly frustrating. For instance there are magicians who will take one hit and disappear, though if you can turn their swords against them, then they will be vulnerable to attacks. Waiting for this pattern can be very difficult while trying to fight off other enemies running around. Fortunately the game doesn’t punish you for dying. You’ll just restart that particular stage with all your items and such restored. And as you complete the level you are given a grade based on the time taken and how much damage was suffered. This in turn will reward you with powerful items and new recipes for food and alchemy.
 
Odin Sphere has managed to grab my attention quite a bit over the past two months. I had an absolute blast playing it despite its little nagging issues. I wish the stories were more consistent with the crossovers that occur. I wish I didn’t have to put up with the slowdown that this game suffers from. And I wish I could start a chapter for a character from any point once I have beaten that characters scenario. I also wish this game kept going, because I had a lot of fun with it. I’ll probably play through it again on heroic mode just to test my mettle. I give Odin Sphere the score it has based on how much this game captivated me. I was able to look past some of its shortcomings and still find that this game is a technical marvel and is so wonderfully produced. You can see that this game is a labor of love, which these days feels all too rare.
           



A-
Despite a few nagging issues this may be one of the best games available for the PS2. Between the cool graphics and the solid plot this is one game that you'll probably come back to more than once.



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