Lost Odyssey: Hironobu Sakaguchi – A lost gem for SquareEnix
Lost Odyssey is one the few traditional JRPGs to be released on the Xbox360. It was developed by Mistwalker, which was headed by Hironobu Sakaguchi – the father of the Final Fantasy series. Lost Odyssey was his first RPG, since leaving Square Enix. This created a following and the anticipation for the game’s release from the fans of early Final Fantasy release, which was largely due to way the Final Fantasy series has changed.. Furthermore, the team developing this game also included the now-defunct Nautilus – developers of memorable JRPgs such as the Shadow Heart series (one of my favorites) and the Legend of the Dragoon (a highly acclaimed JPRG on the PSX). So what could go wrong? Nothing! I have thoroughly enjoyed Lost Odyssey.
Story! Lost Odyssey story was what stood out for me. Lost Odyssey follows a group of “immortals” take back their memories. The group is then joined with mortals who are closely tied to their memories. The story has a very emotional moments for me – Lirum’s Death and the epilogue. The epilogue really shows that every character in the party has gone through a very fitting character development. (I still fail to understand what is the purpose of Vaan where he is not really tied much into the story and yet is a main character – well, I will be playing the the Zodiac Age remaster to find out~)
The main story involves Kaim and his immortal friends regaining their memories – where they are observers from another universe. As time flows differently, in the current world, they are made to be immortals. And being immortals, is not easy. They outlive their loved ones, goes through changes of time and could only observe. Eternal rest is never easily attainable. Also with lots of power and time, the mind corrupts, therein created a threat to the land. And only the immortals could stop it. Equipped with the desire to protect their loved ones, his legacy, her love and her people. They fight.
The idea of creating a main character that is an amnesiac 1000 years old allowed the writer to tell many stories – which was done through the dreams. Dreams are sort-of like a visual novel where Kaim, recounts his memories acquired throughout his thousand years. These short dreams were very, – highly emotional. I could remember the story of man who was imprisoned so long, burnt his eyes at the first sight of freedom and sunlight. Or the story of the “Upstreamers” who journeys a never-ending journey.
Each “Dream” Kaim has, serves a different moral to the story. Kaim was like a blank slate wherein his 100 years, he experiences different things – each teaching a different lesson and invoke a different emotion.
Youtube user ATYoD has uploaded all 33 dreams on his page.
Gameplay was very basic. Turn-based strategy, where in the battle characters would wait for their turn to beat the crap out of the enemies. Their Aim Ring System was relatively easy. The system allows for bonus damage or ailments atop of the basic attack. A perfect trigger would create most advantage. Think of it sort of like the GunBlade from FF8. Other than attacking, the battle is a traditional turn-based RPG where you command your characters to do an action. Skills, Magic and Item usage does not use/trigger the Aim Ring System.
Characters are divided into 2 types: Immortals and Mortals. Immortals are able to learn all skills by learning from the Mortals and/or from accessories. Much like the AP system of Final Fantasy 9. Although they are able to learn everything, the immortals are still locked to the traditional warrior/mage build. Warrior immortals can never be a mage and vice versa, which makes the infinite possibilities of skill build redundant as they can only be what they are determined to be.
It is very easy to be over-powered in the game, which I regretted. Having attempted the side quests/DLC before the final boss, puts you in a position where the boss is just WAY TOO easy. You would figure the side quests to be hard, but it wasn’t. I attempted them under-leveled and yet manage to survive battles that provide much EXP that slowly the party gets strong enough to finish through the side quest and then break the game.
Graphics were at the top during the game’s release. However, there were some who had issues on the loading times, though being patient, I do not find it much of a deal-breaker.
Nobuo Eumatsu…the godfather of Final Fantasy music scored this game. Need I say more? I enjoyed 2 particular OST – Howl of the Departed (Final Boss Theme) and “Dark Saint Battle”. It makes the near-ending boss battles seemed way epic.
“Howl of the Departed” has choir, rock and a rapping Satan – Who would have guessed choir and rap sounds good together. Though I am a simple mind…hair-standing choir chorus has always been present in game music and yet I find these soul-igniting choruses makes almost any battle music sound so awesomely epic.
“Dark Saint Battle” was only used a few times near the ending and yet it is so memorable. The use of a cowbell-like sounding instruments made it so unique and I couldn’t get enough of it. And of course, being a boss battle music, it tied to deliver an epic battle…but the Dark Saints weren’t that much of a threat and only confronted the party once, so the emotions the music delivered was not delivered through this battle. I mean it was just a battle against lesser unknown, none threatening, final boss lackey and yet the music used was so epic I would have used it on a much bigger, more awesome boss.
Story was great but I do not like the character design at all. Kaim has a weird, androgynous clothing on. Mack looks like a girl, especially if you equip him with magic-teaching accessories. Cookie sounded weird. Seth is a bad ass pirate…with a simple sun dress. And Sarah has glasses on – I mean Kaim could survive a meteor crashing on him and Sarah couldn’t get her eyes fixed?
Kiyoshi Shigematsu has really done a great job on penning these emotional and rich short stories. I much prefer them than the main plots of the game. I wished these dreams were narrated. I would think these stories, accompanied with emotional narration would create a more memorable, emotional impact.
I would think – with the battle system – Lost Odyssey was the true successor to the Final Fantasy series. I would think so as Lost Odyssey was created by creator of past Final Fantasies. I will rant about the Final Fantasy transitioning to an action-game in another post.