INFAMOUS ISSUE ON SALE NOW!
GameInformer - The Final Word on Video and Computer Games
Subscribe |  Customer Service |  My Account   
USERNAME   
PASSWORD 
REMEMBER MY ID
Forgot your password? | Register
FinishLine.com
Desktop Maestro

 PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 2
SPIN YOU RIGHT ROUND

here is a certain type of gamer who has already been looking forward to Odin Sphere for months – the type who is drawn, as if by instinct, to a Japanese action/RPG sporting a stylish design. This kind of person has been Atlus’ bread and butter for years, but it would be a mistake (not to mention a shame) to limit this title’s appeal to such a narrow audience. With breathtaking visuals, innovative storytelling, and frenzied action, no true gamer should overlook Odin Sphere.

The tale that unfolds is one of war, love, duty, and friendship with five protagonists at its center. Since you must play through a character’s entire arc before starting another (in a prescribed order), it feels as though the curtain is constantly being drawn back, revealing surprise after surprise about the heroes and their motivations. The result is a wonderfully written story that starts out cool and gets more intriguing the deeper you go. It even calls to mind George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, giving gravity to key moments by tying them together from multiple perspectives.

When you aren’t watching the story sequences, you’ll have your hands full on the battlefield. Each level is comprised of a network of circular nodes, and each node is a side-scrolling 2D loop. At first, combat will seem deceptively simple, relying primarily on a single attack/guard button and a jump. As you progress, this setup evolves into an intricate procedure laced with strategy, relying more and more on the items in your possession. Standard attacks will always be your first defense, but powerful items (created through a clever alchemy system) can instantly turn the tide in a fight by halving damage, poisoning foes, or engulfing them in flames. Given the game’s demanding difficulty, learning how and when to use items is sometimes the only path to victory.

Odin Sphere’s story, systems, and combat mechanics are easy enough to describe, but the game’s biggest strength is the way it cultivates a sense of wonder. Fantastic artistic design fuses with addictive gameplay to form a world that constantly impresses, despite some repetition and technical shortcomings. Odin Sphere is in the same league as games like Shadow of the Colossus and Killer 7; it isn’t perfect, but it delivers an experience you just won’t find anywhere else.

  

ANDREW REINER   8.5
If there were a festival dedicated to art house video games, Odin Sphere would most certainly be the talk of the show. Both a remarkable work of imagination and a spellbinding experience, it boldly defies the conventions of gaming to deliver an adventure that constantly has you saying, “I’ve never played anything like this before.” The divergent approach to story telling, unusual art style, and logic-defying circular/2D battlefield will blow your mind. The game doesn’t succeed solely on its experimental qualities, however. The combat system is as simple as jamming on the attack button and occasionally firing off a spell, but its swift speed, razor-sharp difficulty, and daunting size of many of the adversaries make it an inexhaustible blast. Stretches of near game-breaking slowdown do mar this amazing quest at the least opportune of times, but as frustrating as this is, it shouldn’t detour you from running out and picking up this revolutionary epic.
8.5
CONCEPT:
2D combat isn’t always old-school…especially when combined with an inventive story structure and striking artistic direction
GRAPHICS:
Captivating and surreal. The cut-out style characters, though not exactly life-like, still feel alive
SOUND:
Solid voice acting and a fitting epic score
PLAYABILITY:
Combat is usually fluid, but slowdown occurs at hilariously inopportune moments, like pivotal boss fights
ENTERTAINMENT:
An impeccably balanced mix of story, combat, and side tasks. A little bit of frustration works its way in too
REPLAY:
Moderate
Copyright 1991 - 2008 :: Game Informer Magazine