Ragnarok Odyssey is set in an original world based on Norse mythology where a battle is being waged between humans and giants after the fall of the gods had previously separated the races. Players create their characters from over 20,000 possible combinations based on customizable physical features, then select one of six specialized job classes. The game’s real-time battles are fast and furious as players can fling enemies skyward, follow them into the air for gravity-defying strikes, then finish off the combo by smacking them clear across the stage. Gameplay is driven forward by story-advancing and optional quests, and up to four players can fight together in online co-op mode.
Sadly this is the first game I’ve picked up for my Vita that I’ve regretted buying. Ironically, it was the first game that was cheaper on the PSN Store than on amazon. The demo of the game is pretty awesome, and after playing it for a while i decided to buy the game. While i didn’t enjoy the game, it is by far one of the best looking and implemented games I’ve seen for the Vita.
So lets look at the good stuff first.
Graphically it looks pretty stunning:
The game makes full use of the Vita’s power and produce a game that’s stunning to look at. The mobs are varied and interesting with their own sets of animations and actions.
I loved fighting orcas, because they were so stupid, they’d be tossing their clubs and catching them but every now and then it would hit them on the head. It’s a silly thing, but it’s this little attention to detail that makes it more interesting to play the game, you want to see how the next mob will act.
The touch screen is well implemented, but can take a bit getting used to. you have three potion slots, which you can access with a touch, but you can also access them through button presses. The holding hands icon pops out as a menu giving you access to the log, social actions such as dancing, and the animated emoticons. The other button is a special action which makes you uber, but costs you health, it’s a last resort action. You can get round the cost by killing mobs. The mini map can be expanded with a press to cover the screen, though i find that a bit annoying at times.
The characters we meet are interesting, and while there is no voice acting (that I’ve seen so far) in the game, just a lot of text reading. To add spice and bring the characters to life they use animated emoticons, which works really well.
The character customisation is really varied, with lots of options for your character. Ranging from voice to face, hair and colour. It’s a really good set of options, and frankly one of the better ones I’ve seen on any format, not just the Vita.
The choice of classes (or job, they’re used interchangeable in this game) is pretty pointless, since it’s only really applied to the first chapter. After this point you get to swap classes as and when you want so long as your in town. However if you’re new to the game, then I’d recommend you go for the sword warrior, as it’s the most balanced and easiest to use classes. It has a lot of the other RPG elements, such as loot drops, costumes and stuff as well.
What’s more the game has a tonne of free DLC, a lot of costumes, some very nice cards and twelve music packs, all for free. There are a few paid DLC, which i didn’t pick up, but those were next to nothing and i think people would pick them up if they liked the game.
So with that said lets go onto the bad.
For me this game as a learning curve, and I’ve learnt i probably don’t like this genre of game. However, one of the biggest things i hated about this game is that there’s no progressions. Killing monsters doesn’t net you any exp or anything, other than a few bits of crafting items. However I’ve found i get more stuff from crates and barrels than from mobs. What this means is that there’s no reason to clear an area, unless you have a mission to kill them of course.
This leads me into my next problem. While the mobs are fun to watch, the problem comes when you see them over and over and over and over again. The maps just aren’t varied enough, and you get bored rather quickly having to go through the same maps to reach your target zone, fight the same mobs and get nothing for it.
Sure you get money, and drops, but there’s no sense of achievement with completing the missions. you can complete twenty missions and be the exact same stats and equipment as you were when you first started the game. This does give it a sense of futility, you find yourself falling into a grind fest looking for weapons and the materials needed to upgrade your outfit and current weapons. The drops do seem a bit skewed, i played as a Sword Warrior and after twenty missions had found only one sword, which was useless, but I’d found loads of daggers, staffs and hammers.
I’m not sure i could class this as a ‘bad’ thing, but when combined with everything else it certainly feels like it. The game is brutal, it has a insane difficulty curve. the general mobs are fairly easy. Though if you get swamped you will get KO’d, which can happen twice per mission without it failing. though you do lose money from the reward per KO. The area locks can be frustrating, you go into an area which locks on you and spawns a load of mobs, but they can spawn right next to you. Several times I’ve found myself KO’d because I’d gotten swamped due to the game spawning the mobs right next to me. The bosses however are insanely hard. I’ve faced two so far and got stomped by them both. Frankly at first the only thing you can do is run away from them.
This is where the grind comes in, you need to upgrade your weapons and armour to take the boss, so you end up repeating all the older missions trying to get the materials needed. Finding out what materials you need requires some hunting, since they aren’t obvious and you aren’t really told about them. In fact you have to go clicking through menus to find them, which is tedious.
Overall tedious is the way I’d describe the game. with no sense of accomplishment that is usually found in RPG’s and even in it’s big brother, Ragnarok Online, it’s nothing more than a long grind fest looking for cards, weapons and materials. At one point i had an NPC telling me that i needed to grind to find a specific card so as to help me with the boss fight.
Yet, despite this i find the game is really well put together. Your ‘home’ holds most of the DLC you get, you talk to Cuei who sits on your bed and the DLC is sent to your wardrobe. you can also accept stuff sent to you by other players and save your game. Save often!!
The multiplayer aspect seems to be dead for me, I’ve spent best part of two hour looking for multiplayer games to get nothing. This is a great shame since the bosses are almost unbeatable solo and require you to have a party. Thankfully it does include ad-hoc multiplayer (people in the same room as you) which does mean if your friends have the game you can have a multiplayer session. I do think this game would be a lot of fun in a party with friends.
What surprised me is that this game was published in the US by XSEED, but in europe it was done by GungHo, who said that the original game was created by their parent company in japan. However their american branch was just getting started when they went looking for the US publisher, hence XSEED getting it, and them publishing their EU version themselves.
If you like Monster Hunter styled games you may well enjoy this one. However if your looking for an RPG then this one is probably worth a miss.