Odin Sphere was developed by Vanillaware and published by ATLUS on the PlayStation 2 back in 2007. It was a sleeper hit within the console’s massive library and was met with generally positive reviews. The HD rerelease of the same game, retitled Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, gives everyone the fantastical story of the original in a gorgeous 1080p and 60 fps, along with redrawn visuals and an updated battle system. Despite its age, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is a great action role-playing experience that PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita owners will want to have in their collection.
If you never played the original game, Odin Sphere follows a narrative focusing on five characters with intertwining stories. Each story has its own unique perspective on the events that unfold for a specific character, but offers extra details to discover about the other stories you may have or have not played through. For some this might be a bit confusing, especially when you spend a lot of time with one character before switching to another.
After finishing Gwendolyn’s story and seeing how her tale ends, it was surprising to control Cornelius and play through events that happen beforehand and concurrent to Gwendolyn’s story. Jumping back and forth between timeframes of all five characters did make me lose some emotional investment for some characters, especially when I knew how things would turn out for someone by the end of a chapter.
Action is the biggest focus in Odin Sphere’s gameplay. You explore large stages and fight battles in real time against many enemies that can appear on screen. A lot of comparisons can be made to other action games with exploration, like Castlevania or Metroid, but Odin Sphere has more emphasis on combat rather than searching around for secrets. Most of the time I knew where everything was on my mini-map, so I almost always focused on getting into battles through the best path towards a boss enemy. I never once felt like I was lost or wasted time getting from one place to another, especially since I had access to fast travel checkpoints placed all over the stage.
Each character you control has a variety of physical attacks and many special attacks and spells that can be used at any time, provided you have enough energy and MP to do so. Experience gained from defeating enemies and consuming items you find in the stages helps you to power up the strength of your attacks and other abilities. I would get into so many fights along the way that I never felt underpowered at any point, but that didn’t stop some of Odin Sphere’s boss enemies from being a solid challenge.
While the game recycles some boss fights between each of the five character stories you play, some characters required me to fight differently than simply mashing attack at close range on a boss. Things do eventually get repetitive when you’ve faced the same boss for the third time with a different character, but the cutscenes that play afterwards are well worth powering through one more time.
One thing that left me in awe about Odin Sphere was the presentation. Vanillaware has a very distinct style in how they render backgrounds and characters on screen, all of which look gorgeous in 1080p. Even the most unimportant of things, such as a character eating an apple, is given an incredible amount of subtle detail to make it look and feel natural.
The in-game menus even have this same attention, with various effects and lighting that help make everything you see look magical. Even more incredible is how well the experience transfers over from the PlayStation 4 to the PlayStation Vita. Cross-Save allows you to upload your data to the cloud and continue playing on the go. While playing, I couldn’t spot any loss or difference between both versions, which is a huge plus for anyone.
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is definitely a game you should own in your gaming collection. If you missed its initial release at the end of the PlayStation 2’s lifecycle, then now is the perfect opportunity to experience this action RPG.
The visuals look phenomenal in 1080p and the combat is solid enough to keep you coming back for more. The story is interesting to follow, even though it can be confusing at times, but well worth investing more than 20 hours to see if fully through. This is definitely a gaming hidden gem that hasn’t loss its shine.
This review was based on a digital review copy of Odin Sphere Leifthasir for the PlayStation 4 provided by ATLUS.