I beat it, but never got the best ending, as that required doing repeating a certain set of missions, refilling the success-critical items for each time and having to wait through several loading times. If it weren't for all the little problems Odin Sphere had I would've finished it fully.
Even with those gripes it's still my favorite Vanillaware game thanks to its story, a classical mythological tale of dueling kingdoms, dragons, forbidden magic and the underworld told across five different characters with their own play styles. With the wrinkles ironed out it could almost be considered a masterpiece.
Lo and behold, Vanillaware promised to make it the fantastic game it could be with Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, an HD update to the game for the PS3, PS4 and Vita. With my fond memories driving me, I got the Vita version, because with Muramasa Rebirth and Dragon's Crown on there, why not complete the set?
The story I revere so much takes place in the magical land of Erion, where a number of kingdoms reign over different parts of the land. There's a forest of fairies, a glowing city with valkyries and dwarves and even the underworld has its own spot where people can walk in and out if they can traverse it.
One of the kingdoms, however, is more of a smoking crater of the long-since destroyed kingdom of Valentine. It was once the mightiest kingdom of all thanks to its forbidden magic, but after their giant death machine using that magic malfunctioned the entire kingdom was destroyed.
Now, as the fairy queen Elfaria and Aesir king Odin fight for control of said death machine, each of the five playable characters go on their own journeys to fight for what they believe in while a prophesized armageddon approaches.
The first of these characters is Gwendolyn, Odin's valkyrie warrior daughter who goes on a journey of questioning loyalty and following her own path.
Hailing from the east is the prince of Titania, Cornelius, who is turned into a cursed creature called a pooka and given a sword by a mysterious voice in the underworld to save his kingdom and find out what's happened to him.
In the fairy kingdom is the princess Mercedes. After queen Elfaria dies early on, Mercedes goes on something of a coming of age story as she learns to take the responsibility of leading her people to victory against Odin.
And finally there's Velvet. She along with her brother Ingway are the only two survivors of the royal house of Valentine who take refuge in the forest. She is Cornelius' lover whose story revolves around the responsibility of protecting her family's kingdom-destroying death machine.
It's a tale of love, loss, war and self-discovery. Someone could make a three-part Lord of the Rings-style movie trilogy out of Odin Sphere.
There's a lot of detail put not just into the well-developed characters, but also the different elements that put the story together to make it complex and absorbing. The weapons of the game and how they're used, for example.
Each character uses a weapon called a psypher, crafted from jewels found in the underworld (that the queen is very protective of). Psyphers are the most powerful weapons around. They can let the wielders use powerful spells and are even strong enough to pierce dragon scales (something no other weapon is capable of), but that power comes at a cost. The psyphers are powered by phozons, which are basically bits of life energy that come out of dead people. Normally phozons are supposed to return to the earth for the cycle of life, but one of the core mechanics of the games is absorbing phozons from dead enemies and plants to get the power your psypher needs. Because of that, they aren't looked fondly upon within the context of the story.
The attention to narrative detail gives enough explanation for everything to have weight and context, but never overstays its welcome, perhaps be because it feels natural with the dialogue. All of it is in a classical, Shakespearean tone, which I suppose sounds stiff at times, but I live for this stuff, and the voice actors sell it all really well.
I read somewhere that Leifthreasir would have a new, re-dubbed English translation. That turned out to be a lie, but it's not a problem. Odin Sphere has the usual anime and game voice actors with roles they know all too well. Derek Stephen Prince, Karen Strassman, Richard Epcar and Liam O' Brien are in their element for these roles and they all give good performances, if a little plain. The titular character Odin has a good voice too, but for some reason he isn't credited.
If I had to give an Oscar to one of Odin Sphere's voice actors it would be to Keith Silverstein. He does an outstanding performance as the undead, skeletal king of Valentine, portraying his maelstrom of pain, mania, sorrow, care and anger perfectly. Being a skeleton, the character itself is mostly expressionless, but Silverstein is able to act everything out using only his voice. For such a strong and tragic figure written to emotionally sway the player to hate and pity him at the same time, that's impressive.
Out of all the Vanillaware stories presented thus far, Odin Sphere's is the most epic and I love it.
I do not, however, love the way the story is presented, which is something I was hoping this new HD version would correct.
|The special skills used are selectively upgraded with phozons in Leifthrasir.|
|It can feel satisfying, but not as much as it used to.|