Lost Odyssey - Reader Review  

A Thousand Years in Fifty Hours
by KnightTrain

Click here for game information
Xbox 360
40-60 Hours
+ Well-written story
+ Great music
- Battles can drag at times
- Next to no replay value
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   If you could live a thousand years, would you want to remember it all? Or would you want to forget everything? After all, living long enough to see countless friends grow and die over the many years might be too painful to bear. Kaim Argonar is just such a person; blessed/cursed to live a thousand years and not remember any of if. And so "Lost Odyssey" begins. After a meteor crashes on a battlefield killing thousands of people yet leaving him the only survivor, Kaim begins his journey to find out why he has forgotten an entire thousand years of memories, and at the same time prevent a madman from achieving god-like powers and destroying the world. A story created by Final Fantasy's Hironobu Sakaguchi and a music score written by famed Nobuo Uematsu, Lost Odyssey is an RPG fans should not pass over lightly. However, does it live up to the expectations set up by this pair of veterans mentioned above? Or is it just a shiny box to decorate one's shelf?

   Lost Odyssey sports a familiar turn-based battle system with an interesting twist the GC, or Guard Condition, feature. Basically, the total amount of HP in your party's front row add up to the total amount of your GC. When the GC is at it's max, party members in the back row will be fully protected and take minimal damage when hit. As the front row's HP decreases, so does the GC. If the GC is reduced, then the back row will take more damage. This feature is a really neat concept as it could add a little extra strategy to the battles, but according to this reviewer it is not well implemented. This is because it is basically a waste if time to try and restore the GC should it be decreased. It is not restored when the front row is healed, and the small selection of CG restoring abilities take a few turns to cast and only increase it by a small amount. That amount will most likely restore the amount that was lost while attempting to cast the ability. Another new feature to the battle system is how abilities are learned. First off, there are two types of characters: Immortals (like Kaim) and mortals. Mortals learn their abilities through the classic method of leveling up and inherently learning them. Immortals, on the other hand, need to learn them from their mortal comrads. Only by using "skill link" will immortals be able to use different abilities, and by gaining enough AP (ability points) through battle will they learn the skill for good and can link to a different skill. This is a nice feature as it caters to both those who like customisability and those who don't. Immortals can be freely customizable to some degree, and the mortals roles are static. All in all, the battle system is hit and miss. Sometimes, enemy battles just seem to drag. Only the boss battles can be exciting, as each one is unique and requires a different strategy that might take a few deaths to figure out. Very few normal enemy battles share this aspect.

Some kinda three-way telephone conversation. Some kinda three-way telephone conversation.

   If you have played a lot of RPGs in the past, then you'd see that there isn't anything special about the interaction. It is a game that is easy to navigate through. It's never too hard to figure out where to go next since the world map screen will tell you where to go via a flashing icon next to the name of the location. There is little exploration to be found until late in the game when you acquire an airship, and once you've visited an area you can easily jump directly to it by selecting the location. The menu screen isn't anything special either. The only thing that might be difficult for veteran RPG players to get used to is the party formation screen. Some may find them selves constantly exiting the screen before the party formation is actually changed as you must "accept" the changes.

   Nobuo Uematsu is definitely a composer who needs no introduction. Even those who pretend to be RPG fans most likely know who he is and what he is well-known for. Lost Odyssey was lucky to have Uematsu compose its music, as every game probably dreams of such a blessing. That being said, Lost Odyssey's music is really good. The players might find themselves leaving the game running during the title screen or the world map just to listen to the main theme in its entirety. Some games music functions as only easy-listening background music, but like many of Uematsu's scores Lost Odyssey's is hard to ignore. Although many aspects of the game are very similar to other RPGs, there is one new feature that stands out very well. This is the "A Thousand Years of Dreams" story sequences that players will come across at various points in the game. Essentially, Kaim, since he has lost his thousand years worth of memories, will slowly starts to regain his memories throughout the course of his journey. When the player completes part of the story line, or overhears a conversation between certain NPCs, the event will trigger a memory from Kaim's past. The players then has the option of reading a short story about Kaim's many adventures and relationships he has had. Most of these stories have nothing to do with the main story, but they help build upon the characterization of the dark, enigmatic Kaim Argonar. The stories are so well-written and thought-provoking (as well as having nice visual and sound effects) that they could very well be reason enough to play the game. All made better by the fact that you can access the stories any time you like after you've unlocked them on the game's title screen.

Fancy swordplay Fancy swordplay

   Aside from the "A Thousand Years of Dreams" stories, even the main story is nothing to wag a finger at. Hironobu Sakaguchi has done it again and given us a story that leaves players wondering what happens next. The story is very well told through the colorful cast of characters. However, we still have the strange phenomenon of young children (about ten years old in this one) taking part in danger that no parent (grandparents in this case) in there right mind would let children near. This is to be expected from a JRPG, so we'll just have to deal with it. Also, there is a certain love story between a pair of characters that is a little too shallow to believe. Other than that, it is a great story, full of mystery, betrayal, and excitement. Jansen's dialogue alone could make this game worth playing.

   True to Sakaguchi's ideals of great graphics, this game does not disapoint. The locations are very beautiful. From rain pelted mountains and vibrant forests to ruins of ancient civilizations and frozen wastelands, the player will be seeing a lot of very beautiful places. The character designs are also well-done, each fitting their personalities well.

   As hinted above, the only real challenges are during boss fights. Other than that, once you figure out a bosses weakness, they will take little time to defeat. The final boss, however, is no pushover. This is really refreshing to veteran RPGamers who might be used to very easy final bosses of late. There is a real satisfaction to seeing the final battle through to the end, and then to be treated with an ending that lasts probably about 40 minutes.

   This is a pretty average length game, taking about 40 - 50 hours to complete. There are a fair amount of side quests, but this is one area that the game could have used a little more work. It seems that some of the side quests attempt to give you a little more character background, but fail to do so once you're finished with them. That being said, even if you finish the game (which allows you to start over with the same levels), there really isn't much reason to play again because you probably didn't miss much. The main story itself has enough content to satisfy the player.

   Lost Odyssey is a very good game. Definitely not the best by any means, but it is a very strong title from a fairly new company. It delivers a decent story that isn't too cliched. Any lover of RPGs and an owner of an Xbox 360 should at least give this game a look.

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