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Lost Odyssey

An RPG developed by Mistwalker exclusively for the Xbox 360

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Sakaguchi's Odyssey

  • Feb 26, 2010
Rating:
+4
It's no secret that the Final Fantasy series in and of itself is one of the most popular game series's out there.  Amazingly enough, the games have thrived and survived the test of time.  In 2006, however, the creator of Final Fantasy--Hironobu Sakaguchi left Square-Enix to form his own developing company called Mistwalker studios.  The first game Sakaguchi produced with the studio was a game called Blue Dragon.  For a game touted and advertised as being from the guys who brought you Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, Blue Dragon just wasn't that grand of a game.  Even worse is that as gaming evolves and gets older, many of the JRPGs staples haven't aged along with it.  Blue Dragon shows that perhaps some should.  On the other hand, Lost Odyssey begs to differ.  And it does.  Where as Mistwalker's first outing was a fairly forgettable tale filled with immaturity and was a borderline boring adventure, Lost Odyssey really ramps things up as Sakaguchi goes back to some of the storytelling angles that made the Final Fantasy titles of the Super Nintendo and Playstation era so good.  Sure it sticks close to conventions the JRPG has been doing for two decades now, but it proves once again that execution is perhaps much more important than the actual ideas themselves.

Lost Odyssey puts you in the shoes of Kaim.  He's a man who is immortal, something demonstrated at the beginning when in the midst of a war a meteor crashes into the battlefield and wipes out the two combating armies.  Unfortunately Kaim also has no memory.  He only knows he's walked the land for an incredibly long time.  He's not the only immortal in the world.  In fact there are quite a few more.  Yet there's a mystery brewing surrounding his immortality and his past.  The story doesn't sound like much from the get go, but as the narrative presses on it becomes worthwhile.  This is largely due to the fact that Lost Odyssey has a very impressive cast of characters who we'll all dig into.  Hironobu Sakaguchi is a character man, and that's primarily what drives the narrative forward.  As we learn more about the characters, Kaim in particular, the story becomes more engrossing.  The story packs a huge emotional punch and that probably helps it more.  There is a main narrative, but also moments where you read about Kaim's past as new memories are triggered throughout the story.  These moments pack some of the games biggest emotional moments and show that the writing is just as important as the overall presentation.  It's hard to walk away from Lost Odyssey's story without it packing an emotional punch on you in the process.

There's a lot of story in Lost Odyssey, however.  It just about overshadows much of the gameplay.  It's a good thing it is absorbing, but there are going to be many moments of just standing around and watching and reading.  Of course, being that you're playing a JRPG, I can't imagine you expected much else.  Yet when I say there's a lot of story, I'm not kidding.  There's so much exposition and so much to the story that for a time you may feel overwhelmed.  It's not a difficult story to take in, however.  

Diving into the gameplay, however, Lost Odyssey is something of a throwback.  Much of its gameplay is basic fare.  Surprisingly, this is also where Lost Odyssey draws the most criticism from some outlets.  True enough, Lost Odyssey doesn't reinvent the wheel in the slightest.  It stays true to JRPG conventions.  This includes turn based combat, random encounters and spending a lot of time in the menu between battles.  On the other hand Lost Odyssey is a fairly linear affair.  There is no world map to speak of.  That doesn't mean Lost Odyssey doesn't offer lots of secrets.  It does.  And that doesn't mean you can't explore.  You can.  Each town and dungeon is crawling with items for you to collect.  The game also has its fair share of side quests and optional bosses.  There's a surprisingly large amount of stuff to do in Lost Odyssey. 

The combat is where the meat and bones of the game are.  This is something that can rub people one way or the other.  Traditional combat in the JRPG is slowly becoming a thing of the past unless you're one who partakes in handheld gaming (the DS has several RPGs that keep pushing the turn based combat forward).  Most of the console JRPGs have pushed forward with becoming more westernized and inspired by MMORPGs.  Final Fantasy XII, White Knight Chronicles and the upcoming Final Fantasy XIII are good examples of how turn based combat has slowly become lost.  It's actually a relief to see it isn't dead, however, but this causes a rift for some.  The turn based combat is basic with some of its more interesting tweaks being built into how you customize the game in and of itself.  

As you enter combat, you'll have characters who line up on one side of the screen while enemies line up on the other.  As each characters turn comes up you can select their action in a menu.  It's pretty basic in this regard.  Certainly some of it seems outdated, but Lost Odyssey does require a bit more strategy than your typical RPG in this day and age.  First there's the guard gauge.  Like Final Fantasy you can have characters in the front row or in the back row.  Characters in the back row take more damage.  At least until the guard gauge drops.  Then the damage is even.  Your enemies can also play by these same rules.  And while it primarily amounts to you exchanging blows in this manner combat flows really well (it certainly beats the hell out of simply moving around the left analog stick as you all exchange blows without doing anything--in short at least there's participation).  Some of it is dated.  It doesn't do much to innovate in terms of its combat.  Battle systems found in games such as Grandia are more interesting (Lost Odyssey's battle system is sure to remind JRPG veterans of Final Fantasy X).  Even Lost Odyssey's customization isn't that complex.  To add a little to the battle system your immortals can link together with your mortals to learn and perform abilities.  Also, the battle systems adds a bit more participation with special rings that allow for well timed hits to increase the amount of damage you've done.  It's nothing original, but it works.  I'd rather play a game with well established mechanics that work than one that tries to introduce new ones that fail.  

Of course, the main appeal of Lost Odyssey is really the story.  The random encounters can become a little taxing, but the game sprinkles much more of the story there for you than anything.  Simply put, if story isn't your thing, Lost Odyssey just won't appeal to you.  Much of the game focuses here.  The gameplay IS fun, if only because the battle system is simple.  Certainly Lost Odyssey isn't very complex, but the JRPG hasn't exactly been complex... well... since the day the genre got started.  It may seem dated, but it seems strange that the same people who blasted Lost Odyssey for refusing to be complex or because it's dated... praised Blue Dragon for almost the same reasons... and the games are almost a year apart.  What's important isn't so much that some of what Lost Odyssey does is dated, what's important is that it still works well enough to keep people playing. 

Perhaps what shines more about Lost Odyssey than anything it's incredible presentation.  This is by far one of the best looking games you'll see on the 360.  There's a lot of attention to detail.  The cinematics are beautifully choreographed and the ambience of some of Kaim's past is beautiful.  It helps to really tell the story.  Unfortunately, the game also suffers from minor frame rate issues.  It's not uncommon when running through an area or watching certain scenes that the framerate dips from time to time.  The game may be gorgeous, but it doesn't always run smoothly.  Better than the game's visual presentation, however, is the music.  It goes from being epic to being somber and dramatic.  It always sets the right mood.  Particularly when reading the snippets of Kaim's past.  Nobuo Uematsu, the famed composer of the first ten Final Fantasy games, is the man behind the music here and it sounds beautiful.  The voice acting is also really good, even though much of the dubbing is off.  But by now that's to be expected by just about any game made in Japan with English voiceovers.  The strength of the voice acting, however, actually is a surprise because much of the time you play games and the voice acting doesn't strike a good tone.  Here it does.  And it should given the emotional pull the game packs.

If you're a fan of the traditional JRPG and the first ten FInal Fantasy games in particular, you owe it to yourself to check out Lost Odyssey and see what you think.  It hasn't evolved the JRPG genre in terms of gameplay,but thanks to the power of the 360 the way in which it tells its story is better than ever.  For those who love character driven stories an the classic stylings of the JRPG, Lost Odyssey is mandatory playing.

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February 26, 2010
wow! I am in...out to BBuy I go!! My 360 recently got 'borrowed' as in forever so I hope the PS3 version is about the same. Nice review!
 
February 26, 2010
I may have to borrow my son's X-box 360...sounds consuming.
 
1
More Lost Odyssey reviews
Quick Tip by . June 04, 2010
Excellent RPG with a classic feel. The stories within the game are intriguing and I had trouble skipping them even when I was in a hurry.
review by . February 03, 2009
So far I've played 7 hours into this game and this is what I currently think of the game:    It has a lot of cinematics/cutscenes/stories(dreams of the main char that you have to "READ") compared to the amount of playing time.  I would say for the first 3 hours of playing this game, I didn't do anything but run around town talking to people, watching cutscenes and reading the stories of his past dreams.  I mean there was one point from one save point to the next that …
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #6
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this video game

Wiki


Lost Odyssey , is a truly next-generation RPG created by acclaimed artists Takehiko Inoue (Japanese manga creator, made famous by Slam Dunk), Kiyoshi Shigematsu (a famous Japanese novelist) and Nobuo Uematsu (Japanese music composer, known for creating the music for the FINAL FANTASY series of games). The game is produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the original FINAL FANTASY series.
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Details

Number of Players: 1 Player
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Mistwalker
Console: Xbox 360
Genre: RPG
Release Date: February 12, 2008
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