Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir (PS4, 2016)

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I remember when Odin Sphere first came out. I had several friends who were totally into it, but I managed to miss it entirely. When I heard it was going a HD remake for Playstation 4, I was instantly interested. A close friend decided to preorder Odin Sphere for the art book ahead of actually owning a Playstation 4, so he had it shipped to me instead since he knew i wanted to try it.

I am glad I did. Outside of its repetition, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is a wonderful game.

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To sum up the game, it is a beat ’em up with a heavy RPG influence and a dash of platforming too. Odin Sphere is also gorgeous. Render in a hand-drawn style, the game is beautifully animated with unique characters. Boob physics aside, every character and enemy is distinct.

Odin Sphere employs a frame narrative to tie the game’s many characters together. When the game begins, you play as a young girl, stuck in an attic with her cat Socrates, reading your grandfather’s books. Each book she reads is the story of an individual character. Every character’s story overlaps, so in order to piece together the entire narrative of Odin Sphere, you have to complete the game as each character.

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I liked the character and the stories a lot. It gets a bit ham-fisted and some of the dialogue is laughable; there’s also not a lot that is unique about Odin Sphere’s story. However, delivering the narrative in piecemeal faction from the limited perspective of each character keeps it fresh and interesting. If you are like me, then you will want to play through to completion just to fill in all the gaps in your knowledge.

I also really like the different factions. There are a few moustache-twirling villain types, but otherwise these are distinct nations with distinct goals. There are vikings, fairies, dwarves, and goblins. There are also bunny people called Pooka that suffer from a curse. All in all, its a varied cast and nice to see multiple nations vying for power, rather than one Empire crushing all the rest.

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Combat-wise, Odin Sphere is near perfect. I did not play the original or the classic mode included in this remake, but I found it well-balanced between accessibility and challenge. It plays like an action brawler and each character brings their own unique traits. In addition, there are special moves that use a rechargeable energy bar and magic attacks which use an even rarer resource.

Progression is two fold. Combat gives you ‘phozons’, which allow you to upgrade skills. Eating gives you experience, which levels you up and allows you to unlock passive abilities. Eating is also the source of the game’s loose crafting system where you plant seeds to get mats to make new foods. I thought I’d hate it, but it is integrate well and simple enough not to distract from actual gameplay, while also providing something unique to do.

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My one downside to the game is the repetition. Each character goes through remixed versions of the same levels, complete with the same sets of enemies. The bosses vary slightly, but most of the boss encounters overlap, so you will experience each many times. While I understand not providing more content – the game truthfully has plenty – additional variety would be greatly appreciated.

All in all, I got 35+ hours out of Odin Sphere and I loved playing it. If you have access to a platform with the game, then I recommend it without any doubt whatsoever. It is a ton of fun, a pleasure to play, and a joy to look at.

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