Lost Odyssey

BY Heather Richtmyre  //  February 27, 2008

Mistwalker should have eased off and let me enjoy the game.


o a master author and designers formerly of Square Enix make a winning combination? Mistwalker's Lost Odyssey is a JRPG that manages to do many things well. However, I found the game's weaknesses to be in the areas where the greatest strengths were required, namely, the integration of the storyline into the overall game.

Graphically, Lost Odyssey is a beautiful game. Cracks can be seen in dry ground, characters' hair looks and moves realistically, and emotions look largely realistic. Jansen's continuous expressions of frustration are one example of this, along with being a generally a reliable source of comic relief. Nothing is stylistically bothersome, and even the soldier models are detailed yet, more importantly, avoid any annoyingly realistic ugliness. The only area of critique on graphics I noticed was how, even after being showered with dirt, or standing in pouring rain, characters' still had impeccable clothing and hair, even in cut scenes.

The fineness of detail enthralls.
Speaking of cut scenes — they are a strength and weakness of the game. They often reminded me of a well-written movie, between inducing frustration over the fact that I was spending more time watching them than playing. And, while I can greatly enjoy a good, long movie, such was not what I had paid for in this case. Also, some of the occasional commentary served to completely break suspension of disbelief by providing an analysis of what was happening on screen. An early comment about some of Kaim's dreams being "A dream, or a memory" jarred me the most. The memory sequences could be poignant, but the text format does not utilize the strengths of the console's video capacity, and tends to fall prey to telling too much of what is happening, rather than letting description carry the tale.

Control-wise, it took me about an hour to learn and adapt to the basic and party controls. Afterward, it was simple to set up my groups, equip them, and manage the basics of combat. The most difficulty I had was remembering which type of creature was vulnerable to which spell. On occasion, the combat would involve, for example, four identical battles in close succession, which were neither difficult nor exciting after I figured out the proper moves for winning. A passerby commented, while I was engaged in a fight, on how utterly monotonous the game seemed at such points.

Different characters allowed for various methods in combat, and while I could have the actions available to such overlap, I quickly found, for example, that Jansen did not work well for direct attacks or for taking damage. And every time an effect hit that damaged all my party members, I sat there wincing as my casters died.

Magnificent cutscenes. Just not
so many of them, please.
In general, the game play of Lost Odyssey seemed more filler until another lengthy cut scene could be shown. The sheer amount of narration and events I could neither interact with or control in just the first few hours of the game was enough to make me want to put down the controller for a week.

Is Lost Odyssey a bad game? Absolutely not. The graphics alone induced moments of me sitting there, just staring at the details on a piece of armor or clothing. Various cut scenes nearly brought me to tears with the details of expressions and the story presented therein. Finally figuring out the perfect strategy for destroying a boss or group of pesky creatures also provided enjoyment, even if I then had to repeat it several times on the exact same combination of enemies.

It was the story, the plot line where I invariably desire to feel, at least, some minimum of control that bothered me most about the game. Lost Odyssey felt more like being strapped into a chair, having my eyes taped open, and being told to "watch this." And while the plot of a game can bring great enjoyment, reducing the potential for user control and interaction reduces one of the greatest strengths of video games, and of roleplaying ones even more so.

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