Review: Lost Odyssey

Review: Lost Odyssey
Review: Lost Odyssey

Worlds are at war, politicians are fighting for control, a meteor strikes the Earth and you are a one-thousand year old immortal thrust into this world. Welcome to the Lost Odyssey, a new role-playing game from the father of the Final Fantasy games Hironobu Sakaguchi. There's been a lot of talk and hype about this new offering from the relatively new Mistwalker game house, but how does it really fare?

We'll say it right off of the bat: the opening five minutes of Lost Odyssey are sheer brilliance. Right from the start, you'll see that Lost Odyssey is one of those games that aims to look and sound as beautifully crafted as some of the finest animated movies to ever make their way out of the Japanese animation houses. The opening scene depicts a war between two of the three nations found in Lost Odyssey and paints the image of a slaughter. A world found only in the minds of science fiction fans, weapons are both old and futuristic with battles being taken place with the most unusual of flame throwers, trebuchets, and of course swords.

As the carnage starts affecting both sides, a hero arises from the centre of it all. The unnamed hero starts slicing and dicing everything in site and it is this hero that you'll play through Lost Odyssey with. Kaim is an immortal and as such cannot be killed. He cannot age, scar, hurt and only knows pain through what his body remembers as his memory is completely gone.

While you're given a quick introduction into what might seem like an already extraordinary game, you'll quickly find that the feeling disintegrates as the time goes on. Enjoy those opening fight scenes while they last because they're not going to be there again for around another hour. It actually takes that long to get past a lot of the back story. While the story has obviously been well planned, you can't help but feel that it's a somewhat childish story that you unfortunately can't skip.

If you manage to make it past the beautifully rendered but exceptionally slow direction that makes up that first hour, what you might find is an example of Japanese role-playing game genius. I say "might" because what you will probably find is a mediocre game with a ridiculous amount of battles compounded by less than revolutionary battle systems and downright annoying load times.

Enter a battle and you'll have to wait around five seconds for the battle to actually happen, and when it does, it's actually got little planning. It would have been really useful if you could change your formation or control your party a little more like you can when you're not battling. Worse, no information is given about the various herbs and medicines you'll want to use so if you don't know what you're using, too bad. A control system for strikes has been added where you'll try to hit a ring at a certain time, but this doesn't seem to do enough to shake up the bland battles. Further, once you master the timed control ring system, it becomes more of a chore every time you start a battle.

One of the most curious things about Lost Odyssey is the way it's been designed. Using what has to be one of the more unusual blends of literature, art, and an appreciation for film, Lost Odyssey creates an experience unlike any other. I'm not actually sure whether that experience is good or bad and you'll have to decide that for yourself. The pieces of text that you'll have to read at length describing dreams certainly create an interesting idea for story telling as does the very modern film editing when dual and even triple screens come up showing multiple angles of the game.

You could say that Lost Odyssey's biggest problem stems from its inability to decide whether it's a film or a game. On the one hand, the gameplay follows a typical Japanese RPG formula like Xbox 360 titles Blue Dragon and Eternal Sonata before it. A few things have changed but by and large, it's your typical RPG. And on the other hand, the majestic music, extravagant artwork, and rich story make it more like a motion picture than anything else. Certainly, running to and from scenes to fill in the story behind everything don't help to change the feeling that you're really playing an interactive movie and not a really special game.

That's not to say that Lost Odyssey is bad. It's not, it's just a relatively mediocre game sitting in the shadow of something that could have been great.

Should you buy it?: If you're a Final Fantasy fan looking for your next fix, absolutely. But if you just want an RPG you can play without the risk of falling asleep, you might want to try something else. Definitely not for renting.

Developer: Mistwalker
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Classification: MA15+
Formats: Xbox 360
URL: Lost Odyssey

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark

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