Odin Sphere was released to a slew of rave reviews. Several called it the best PS2 RPG in years, and game forums everywhere were filled with topics full of praise.
A couple weeks ago I convinced myself I should try it out. And, in fact, for a while it was impressive. The graphics are quite nice, the voice options are great, and the story is enjoyable. The game is quite smooth, and controls pretty well.
You’ll notice I left out the actual system behind the game. It felt okay for the first couple hours. I figured I’d get used to it, and that soon enough I’d be planting Muggles and Napples in the heat of battle with the best of them.
Unfortunately, I am now another ten hours in and still don’t see the appeal of the system. Fighting is simple enough, but when you have to hold off dozens of enemies at once it becomes incredibly hectic. When you realize that you’re letting precious Phozons go to waste by taking so long fighting them, you frantically search through your inventory for that Napple seed you’d been saving.
Here’s where Odin Sphere makes its first mistake: inventory management. If done well, it’s nearly transparent – or unnecessary. If done poorly, it makes a game very stressful.
Which led to a thought. I’ve been working 60 hours a week lately (thankfully no longer). When I come home and play a game or two to relax, I don’t want to have to fuss over whether that Turny or Carroteer I just found will fit into my overstuffed pack.
Strategic decisions? Sure. But I don’t see the strategy in deciding to throw away either this seed or that bone. I see it as a distraction to the otherwise fast-paced, action-esque nature of Odin Sphere. Even mixing potions – obviously made to be simple interface-wise – can become an exercise in futility, as the “mixed” potion appears on the ground in front of you to be picked up. In the middle of a battle, it puts you at risk. Outside a battle, it’s still annoying.
Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy the game, but it’s mostly for the plot and the action – and not the minutiae that seem to serve only to distract you from both.