- May 22, 2007 00:00 AM PST
While sequels tend to be hit-or-miss in terms of capturing the brilliance of the original game, spiritual successors are often seen much more positively, as they use what worked best previously, but make changes for the better. Ico had Shadow of the Colossus, and now Princess Crown (a Japanese-only action RPG) has Odin Sphere.
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Upon starting the game, you find yourself in control of a little girl named Alice who cracks open the covers of the nearest book and begins reading the story about the world of Erion. In Erion, an ancient prophesy dooming the world is about to come true, and it's up to a Valkyrie named Gwendolyn to save it.
It may sound derivative but it's presented in a wonderful way, with plenty of twists, turns and a depth of character that propel this story way above the rest. And just when you think the story's over, a new book appears for little Alice to read, with a different story focusing on a different playable character, but still revolving around the same conflict.
2-D is the new 3-D
But this great story would have gone to waste had the battle system been lacking. Odin Sphere, like Princess Crown, is a 2-D side-scrolling action-adventure game. Each stage is a circular battlefield that requires you to wipe out a melee of enemies in the quickest and most efficient manner before you move on. The game is challenging (even with the difficulty set to easy) and will require you to think and work hard in order to be successful, while juggling dozens of actions including battling, healing, casting magic, planting plants, absorbing phozons, and more. It may seem like a lot, but it all becomes very natural, and there's nothing wrong with a game that expects more of you.
Is This What Valhalla Looks Like?
I was also incredibly pleased with Odin Sphere's art style, which is striking and vibrant. I wasn't so pleased with the long load times, and I'm guessing the complex visuals had something to do with it; it isn't an unbearable wait, but it still detracts from the overall experience. Also, the game will slow down during certain battles when more than ten enemies are on the screen, and I encountered so much slow down during a few major boss battles that it practically rendered the game unplayable.
Despite these issues, the complex and exhaustive gameplay and excellent story equate to a beautiful and entertaining game. With an involved battle system and so many different characters and stories, you're guaranteed to enjoy every second that you'll inevitably invest in Odin Sphere.
Pro: Great story, gorgeous art, insane battle system and available Japanese language audio (bonus!).
Con: ...Loading Now...Loading Now...