Odin Sphere was originally one of the most challenging (and rewarding) ARPGs the PS2 would ever see in its lifetime.
Managing your inventory, concocting complicated (yet essential) elixirs, and nurturing fruit-bearing plants, all while engaging the enemy (in real-time no less), was not always fun, but it was rewarding. George Kamitani’s gorgeous 2D work of art is soaked in so much color and detail it almost drips off the screen. Persevering through each of the 5 character-lead tales, comprising over 40 hours of engaging gameplay required painstaking caution and razor-like focus. As much as I enjoyed the challenge, easy mode felt like hard, normal beat me within an inch of my life, and hard was LOL. Mercifully, Atlus have bestowed upon us Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir, in my humble opinion, one of the finest HD remakes this side of The Nathan Drake Collection. Characters now move with more speed, grace and precision, slow down has been all but eliminated (for better or worse), inventory management joyously simplified, even the stamina/fatigue gauge is forgiving. The difficulty spikes have been tailored down and balanced, meaning less grinding. And grinding in Odin Sphere was where I spent the bulk of my time. There are new stages, tweaked to accommodate the scaled out landscape, and gameplay adjustments now mean you can combo and air juggle enemies with dominant force.
One of the first things I had issues with in the original, was the scale of characters in relation to the environment. The camera was far too close to the action, making reaction timing almost unfair. This has been remedied, also allowing your eyes to absorb the majesty of Odin Sphere’s artwork. The phazon system used to power special attacks and grow HP recovering (and experience building) fruit, has been augmented, allowing new upgradable abilities. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is almost a new game. The jump to high definition did not simply bring us low resolution art work cropped or upscaled to simply fit in a higher resolution. Everything looks legitimate, as if this was the original version. Speaking of which, classic mode is on hand and looks superbly intact. I would not have tortured myself through the original’s shortcomings (namely it’s frustrating, unnecessary, momentum halting challenge spikes), if it weren’t for all that was good about this game. The fantastic story interwoven through each of the five main characters is interesting and original, and while the learning curve is extremely steep, it’s worthy of mastery. There’s something about the accomplished sensation one gets from coming to grips with all of the game’s real-time combat and management systems.
Without ruining or revealing too much of what makes it so beloved, I’ll simply end this review by stating Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is a must own, especially now that it is so much more accessible and refined. Passing on it would be like skipping a Souls game, it belongs on every true gamer’s shelf or hard drive.
Story: Unique and original, told through five different perspectives and multiple endings
Graphics: Large, colorful hand drawn art in sparkling high resolution
Music: Beautiful and lively, yet somber when necessary, well orchestrated
Control: Much improved, less laggy and quicker in pace than the original
Gameplay: New combos and attacks, special moves and juggles
Challenge: Perfectly adjusted to still challenge, but not cripple your resolve
-Ernest Johnson “Emperor Ernest”
Review based on downloadable PS3 & PS4 review codes, supplied courtesy of Atlus