Odin Sphere Leifthrasir hit me in a weird way. I saw some screenshots pre-release and thought it looked like a cool indie game so discovering it was a remake of a PS2 title was a bit of a curve ball. Not only was it a reasonably old game, being two console generations ago, but I had never heard of it. Fortunately, people that feel a little out of the loop like I was can discover the original title in the remake with a classic mode which is the original game. It is nowhere near as good as the remake but it is certainly great for a nerd like me who would like a little context.
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is a 2D side scrolling hack and slash game that plays pretty much like the above would describe. There is a little variety in the action with gliding which while it is nothing overly new it flows really well and just adds that element to make it feel slightly more than generic. There is also a wide selection of skills which can be assigned and upgraded which were satisfying to use and also adds some flavour and variety.
The game has some unique and weird quirks too, the most notable of which is the food system. One of the item drops is seeds, which can be planted to grow fruits and strangely, sheep. You can eat these to gain experience or using other ingredients found in the game you can get a chef at certain stages make fancy dishes for even more experience. I am not normally a fan of weird systems like that but for some reason it really appealed to me as it just fit the game so well.
What sets Odin Sphere apart is its weird story format. It tells a story of a fantasy world where there are five nations at war where you will play the story of a member of each nations royal family. It is a cleverly told story as you play through the story of each character followed by a finale. It was a fun and interesting way to layer the story one person at a time although it is easy to get lost in it, however not in part by the voice acting because it is very mediocre.
While I enjoyed the story it has a very fatal flaw which must be considered in how you play the game, it is extremely repetitive. Having played the game through reasonably quickly the formula of the six acts in each of the eight chapters gets old fast, except each character prelude which is shorter. This is fine at first but five character stories plus the ending making six stories, with seven reasonably long chapters, the repetitiveness of the formula really started to feel boring, even while I was enjoying the story I was still getting annoyed at this repetitiveness which was a weird feeling. Having said that if I spaced it out to a chapter a night it may not have been quite as grinding, but back to back it really did feel uninspired.
Aesthetically the game looks really nice, when I dabbled with the classic mode I was surprised at how good it looked for a PS2 game and they have stepped it up for the Leifthrasir version of the game. The game has an almost painted style which looks amazing and while some of the character designs are weird as hell they are presented well. One thing that stood out like crazy was the way some characters moved, while the character and enemy movements in gameplay were fine, in cut scenes some looked really strange and weird. The jerky walking movements of the king in the Gwendolyn story notably looked like an animation you would see between Monty Python sketches, which while it is a minor criticism it pulled me out each time he walked somewhere.
Ultimately Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is a great game and an excellent remake of the original Odin Sphere, even if it is not without its faults. Spaced out the act format should not be quite so repetitive leaving just a fun side scrolling game, with interesting stories and some weird systems.
Released: June 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4,
Genre: Action, RPG
Developer: NIS America
Publisher: NIS America