Lost Odyssey (XBox 360)

Story: Kaim Arganor has been alive longer than he can remember. An immortal wandering the world of mortal men, he’s seen too much of life and death to care much about the machinations of any one nation. But when he’s sent on a mission to investigate a facility that generates magical energy, the past he can’t remember becomes vital to stopping an ominous future slowly unfolding. Mortal nations rise and fall, but when an immortal goes rogue, it will take someone with Kaim’s experience to stop him.

The story does a generally excellent job of avoiding too many cliche elements. I was especially impressed with how well the rift between mortal and immortal was highlighted, particularly through the various dreams you can unlock throughout a playthrough. These vignettes are snapshots into Kaim’s past, showcasing various aspects of life and death he’s lived through in his long wanderings. These short stories have textual effects to accent the words, like slowly fading in or bouncing around.

The characters, too, were great for the most part. Jansen was the biggest surprise. I didn’t really care for him at first, but his consistently humorous quips soon had me laughing almost every time he opened his mouth. (Listening to him mock the final boss was also hysterical.)

Gameplay: Lost Odyssey is a turn-based RPG, although turn order depends on what you’re doing in a given turn. Characters have a base attack speed that applies to physical attacks, but skills use a different speed stat (and also can depend on the skill you’re trying to activate), and each magic spell has its own casting speed.

Enemies are encountered randomly on the map, and although the random encounter rate was generally good, I did really want a way to tweak it to make it easier to grind for SP (eg, getting a late-game character who has loads of skills to make up on) or avoid battles (TEMPLE OF ENLIGHTENMENT, I am looking at YOU). The battle load time was rather bad, with several long background and character pans before the enemy is ready to fight, although some of that may have been because I did not install the game to the hard drive.

Attacks are modified by rings. I remain confused on how to visually tell the difference between a Perfect and Good ring, but I eventually got the hang of timing it to be able to get at least a Good every time. My eyesight isn’t great, and the ring is a small white ring around a smaller black ring, which on some backgrounds (most notably the last boss fight which has a bright light behind the boss) can make it nearly impossible to tell where you’re striking. However, the additional effects mostly just speed up your battles. A small hint: the most effective rings are the type-targeting ones, followed by the elemental, followed by the generic damage increases (I wasn’t good enough at Perfects to get much of an increased Critical chance even on the best Critical-enhancing rings). Status effect rings are virtually useless since with rare exceptions any fight that takes long enough for a status effect to be useful is a boss immune to all of them. Rings can be crafted fairly easily, although late-game rings have much more annoying requirements, but it’s perfectly possible to play through endgame with only the level 2 rings, which can be crafted through buyable items. Also, on the plus side, rings can be changed on the fly in battle, so it’s easy to swap things around for maximum damage on any given foe.

The main frustration I had with the gameplay is that enemies will only ever give you one item. Since an enemy can have a common steal, a rare steal, and four drop items if it’s fully loaded out, getting what you want can be a real hassle. If you steal either of the items, the enemy won’t drop anything. And there’s no way to increase drop rate or influence which drop you get, either, so if you need a particular item, it’s best to look for something you can steal it from, and then try to get lucky finding it in random encounters. I usually like to max out my endgame gear, but in this particular game decided it just wasn’t worth the effort.

Overall this is a great game, with solid visuals and excellent music backing up a strong story. I beat the game in roughly 70 hours and did 100% of the available content and learned all the skills (though I didn’t bother to platinum the game due to one particular fight sequence that is designed to make getting the treasure trophy next to impossible). There isn’t much benefit in the New Game+ offered, so I doubt I’ll replay it anytime soon, but it was a lot of fun going through the first time. I rate this game Highly Recommended.

 

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