|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Mistwalker||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 12, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
We've been waiting for Hironobu Sakaguchi's Lost Odyssey for quite some time now. In fact, ever since the stunning trailer released in September 06 at TGS, 360 owners have been chomping at the bit while waiting to get their hands on this title. That amazing cinematic glimpse turned out to be the opening cut-scene of a beautiful and complex Japanese RPG.
Fans of the action/adventure genre will not find this title to be nearly as engaging as the initial trailer made it out to be. If the high-paced intensity of the God of War or Halo franchises is ideal, then this game won't be for you. This is a title for the patient, methodical gamer. The visuals are fantastic, the story is complex and intriguing, and the battle mechanic is bolstered by clever nuances that make the familiar JRPG experience feel fresh and engaging.
The release of Lost Odyssey on the 360 was a targeted move to make inroads with the Sony faithful and to capture a larger share of the Japanese market. This game truly feels like it should be part of the Sony RPG pantheon, not for the 360's gaming library. Time and sales figures will tell if this was a good move for Microsoft.
The story of Lost Odyssey is rich and complex; only the diligent will be able to reveal all of the subplots. However, the main themes are intriguing and deep enough to engage most RPG buffs. Kaim Argonar is the story's protagonist. He is an immortal who has lost all of his memories during the Magic-Industrial Revolution. Kaim's nation of Uhra is in a state of political and societal flux. Recently, the government peacefully changed from a monarchy to a republic governed by councilman. Not everyone is satisfied with the new arrangement which has lead to a power vacuum. As such, the country is beset with internal and external threats seeking to reshape the territory. Moreover, the existence of magic is a relatively new phenomenon; only 30 years have passed since its introduction unto the land. Because of this, great and terrible machines and advances plague and enhance the world. Powerful factions within Uhra look to monopolize the use of magic under the guise of national interest. This is the world in which Kaim and his comrades live, and the one into which you will venture.
As Kaim Argonar, you will lead a group of warriors that are both immortal and mortal. Each character will bring another layer of storytelling to the mix. This group of fighters and mages, both common and noble, work together on the battlefield and learn from each other. Levelling up in Lost Odyssey is one of the non-traditional aspects that make this game stand out. Immortals, like Kaim, are unable to learn skills directly; Immortals require the tutelage of a mortal to gain access to these abilities. By linking skills and garnering SP (skill points) during battles, your Immortals will be able to learn from their corporal counterparts. Once all of the skills from one particular mortal are learned, your immortals will have to wait for them to gain new skills through experience or learn from other party members. This subtle system of character advancement provides for originality and complexity while maintaining an easily executed mechanic.
Combat phases are very similar to other Japanese turn-based RPGs. In fact, elemental traits of earth, wind, fire, and water characterize and categorize both enemies and spells. However, there are some major differences to combat including the Wall System and the implementation of the Aim Ring System. Party formations in Lost Odyssey are significant in battles because you are able to protect spell casters with a wall of frontline characters. It is possible for enemies to attack weaker backline members of your party, but they will do so at a substantial cost to damage dealt. The same is true for Kaim's party. Frontline fighters' HP adds up to form your party's GC (Guard Condition). As members of your wall lose HP from attack, your GC will go down concomitantly. This makes for great strategic play. It is important for frontliners to go into battles with high HP and for backliners to cast protective buffs on them in order to strengthen the wall.