Google+

Lost Odyssey review

Decent

The first thing everyone wants to know is: will Lost Odyssey unseat Final Fantasy as the definitive RPG experience?

Our answer: No, it won’t.

Lost Odyssey is almost everything classic Final Fantasy ever was, but not much else. Having FF creator Hironobu Sakaguchi and composer Nobuo Uematsu on the team gives the game more credit than your average “new” RPG, and the mature plot gets major points for NOT starring some plucky youth out to save his/her village from a dragon. Design, however, does not an RPG giant make. Ultimately, Lost Odyssey loses to Final Fantasy with gameplay that's dense, unintuitive and a total throwback to over-complicated RPGs of yore - none of which are good things when you're trying to overthrow an accessible, mega-popular behemoth like FF.

That said, on to your next question: is Lost Odyssey a good game?

Our answer is... complicated. Lost Odyssey’s strengths are its weaknesses. On the one hand, it’s the best a fan of hardcore RPGs could ask for: a game that goes out of its way to revel in all that is old-school Japanese, to the point of including things that other RPGs have moved beyond, like random encounters, multiple classes of magic (White, Black, Spirit and Composite) and pointless fetch quests. The combat is turn-based, the menus are extensive, the plot is a massive conundrum of emotional angst and confusing cliffhangers, and battles emphasize strategy and planning over button mashing. It’s also very, very pretty, with gorgeous cutscenes and in-game models, as well as rich environments and diverse level designs.

The plot focuses on a group of millennia-old Immortals - Kaim, Seth, Ming and Sarah - who have lost their memories - and, in some cases, their loved ones. Sent on a mission to investigate the Grand Staff (a big building that causes meteors to fall on things), Kaim and Seth begin to regain their memories and suspect foul play on the part of the man they’re working for. But before they can confront the fiend or even remember everything they’ve forgotten, they’re captured by the warring nation of Numara, and abruptly find themselves at the center of more political schemes and plot twists than you can shake a stick at.

While much of Lost Odyssey is nothing a seasoned Final Fantasy veteran hasn't seen before (even if the names are different; cure = heal, Moogles = little rabbits in pots, etc.), a few twists in mechanics make the game more than a fancy copycat. The combat system is different, for one thing. Many of your party members are Immortals - characters who cannot (technically) die, but who also cannot learn skills naturally. So while our hero Kaim and his supporting cast of female casters are very powerful, they need constant maintenance. Without a mortal in their party, they cannot "skill link" to learn new talents. Mortals also serve as meat shield for Immortals if one gets knocked out during combat - if you can’t keep at least one party member alive long enough for an Immortal to revive, it’s game over.

For a second difference, the ring system that enhances the effectiveness of your physical attacks (as well as providing some cool status effects) is a completely new experience even for the most jaded FF fan. Without a ring equipped, you might as well be fighting naked; and with the wrong ring equipped, you might as well be fighting in your jammies. Ring components are picked up throughout the game - in chests, dropped by enemies, bought in shops (remember to check every shelf, desk, poster and pot you see; it’ll pay off) - and you assemble the rings from the menu. The game is also nice enough to let you change rings during combat without losing a turn, which speaks to just how much Lost Odyssey is asking in terms of strategic thinking over button mashing.

On the other hand, if you're used to action-oriented RPGs, these interesting ring-making and Immortal-nurturing exercises can be a frustrating mix of stop-and-go combat and overwrought cutscenes.

After every other battle or so, you’ve got to halt, open up the menu and start tweaking away and forging new rings. Failure to keep up this maintenance screws you when you get to a boss - and for a game that’s generous with its checkpoints, it’s still a pain to get sent back even five minutes. Tack on way too many long cutscenes (many of which are back-to-back), plus some cheap thrills aimed at adventure gamers (sneaking missions, puzzles), and some players might begin feeling downright insulted by Lost Odyssey.

Above: We spent 20 hours just wishing we could get that hair off his face

That, more than anything, is why Lost Odyssey isn’t a great game - it’s just too tedious. The opening of the game is literally two hours of cutscenes mixed with a few instances of you making Kaim walk across a pretty environment. It doesn’t help matters that the load times are ridiculously long. And just when you think you can finally get down to some real adventuring, Kaim will look at something and cry, triggering a cutscene about his memories.

If you don’t skip these scenes, you’re treated to 10 screens of nothing but text, telling you some random snippet about Kaim’s past that has nothing to do with the game. After a while, you'll start to feel like you’re reading a book instead of playing a game. It’s true that many RPGs start out slow - but Lost Odyssey takes about 8 hours to get past the training dungeon and even then, you’re still triggering long cutscenes and tutorials at least once every 15 minutes. Four disks of this and most people will be ripping their hair out and to hell with how you like your RPGs.

If you’re patient with plot, love your amnesiac protagonists and get aroused at the thought of having to keep two saves so you can reroll a character if need be, Lost Odyssey has your name written all over it. If any of that makes you sick to your stomach, and you really don’t want to watch repeated cutscenes that last longer than it takes to order a pizza, pass now or waste $60 on the most frustrating 60 hours of your life. 

Above: Best side-boobs we've ever seen

Feb 6, 2008

More Info

Release date: Feb 12 2008 - Xbox 360 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Mistwalker
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence

We Recommend

10 comments

  • pots555 - March 6, 2011 11:37 p.m.

    One of the most annoying game I have played. The lack of save points is a real pain. Too bad because I loved the story and dream sequences.
  • jakab11 - September 1, 2010 2:36 a.m.

    just bought this used i'm an hour and 17(estimate) cutscenes in and I like the rings but i want the game to pick up the pace, but according to this review ive got a ways to go
  • liekmudkiepz8 - July 26, 2010 3:37 a.m.

    This isnt a very good review I really like this game. I dont see how being complex makes it lose 3 points. I'd give it a 9.5
  • allthegoodnameswheretaken - January 22, 2010 6:27 p.m.

    Damn I really should find a copy of this game.
  • OnyxOblivion - January 19, 2010 2:23 p.m.

    The "pages of text" dream sequences are THE BEST part of this game.
  • Nate128 - March 2, 2009 8:19 a.m.

    Having played Lost Odyssey quite a bit I can certainly understand your criticisms. There are many instances in the game where the pace comes to a grinding halt and you are forced into some of the poorly constructed adventure or puzzle elements you mentioned, or you are treated to a long barrage of cut scenes. Disc 3 in particular is probably one of the greatest insults I've had to sit through in quite some time. There must have been 11 or 12 cut scenes in a row. I actually thought the story was interesting until about this point, when I started skipping them. Cooke and Mack nearly spoil the game all by themselves (third-rate Palom/Porom knock-off brats that get more and more grating as the game goes on). The constant maintenance is a plus and a minus. On the one hand, it's a great way to keep yourself busy if you're a bit of an OCD completionist like I am. On the other, I find myself tinkering in the menu nearly after EVERY single battle. If I was a casual RPG gamer I'd be really annoyed. I will say that the "dreams" you can unlock may be the one of the best parts about the whole game. I understand that they are passive experiences and you actually have to *gasp* read but that's the point. The fact that you are reading as opposed to watching something forces you to imagine the story in your head. They are all well-written and each very emotionally touching. A few almost made me cry. If you don't like them you're note forced to read them. In short: you need lots of patience to play this game, but if you delve in deep enough, you'll find a lot to reward you. I'd give it a 6.5/10 (on the "7-10" review scale that most sites use, not sure if this one does, it'd be a 7.5 or maybe an 8 out of 10).
  • yanks4602 - September 1, 2009 7:34 p.m.

    I have to say I love this game and hope that they get a sequel coming. I think load times need to be faster and it needs to be less like a movie but otherwise I love this game.
  • Shrimpandwhitewine - July 4, 2009 10 a.m.

    I am a loyal GamesRadar reader and community member, however I have to say that I disagree with this review. After hearing more good than bad about this game, I decided to pick it up. I don't question the credibility of the reviewer, but I do feel this review over-exaggerated negatively at points. Having played the game, the load times aren't nearly as unbearable (at least for me, I did not download the game to my hard drive and there has not been any frustratingly long loading times). As stated in the review, the combat is classic turn-based format with some twists that keep it from becoming monotonous, and some points in the game call for more strategy in your fights. Not once though, has the combat system felt too complex. Another point touched on is the stop and go of ring-creation/skill management. While I admit, going through the skill management pretty often is minor inconvenience, it's not something that you would spend 5 minutes every time doing, and it adds perks that benefit combat. It may be a little too much management, but nothing so extensive to the point that it is agitating. As for ring formation, its' not something you need to keep going back to like the skill management, and not going back to it doesn't effect your game drastically. Every say 5+ hours of gameplay I'll stop (usually when in a town) to make some rings out of the materials collected over time, and I'll be all set for the next part of the journey. Ring formation (especially when you start forming special rings out of other rings you own at shops in towns) and ring usage is actually more of a plus than a minus. There is fun strategy in the rings you make and use, but wrong decisions aren't make-or-break which is part of whats great about it. I wholly agree with the reviewer about the 'dreams' part of the game. When I found that I had missed dreams, I loaded up my old saves just to read the great stories I had missed out on. Lastly, this game doesn't pretend to be anything it's not. If you are a gamer that is more about intense gameplay over anything else, then perhaps you might not enjoy Lost Odyssey to it's fullest (even with it's nice combat). However, this game is beautiful to look at graphics wise, has a great soundtrack, and an absolutely incredible story. The long cut-scenes aren't as annoying as much as enjoyable because it is all part of the atmosphere. Lost Odyssey truly is a great story with a great plot, and the dreams, cut-scenes ,and even the combat, are all the more enjoyable as you become engaged in the Lost Odyssey universe. My verdict (for what it's worth) 8.5/10 P.s. Sorry this was a bit long-winded, and I apologize for any mistakes or parts that might be hard to understand. **Great side-boob** :)
  • dmonee12 - February 1, 2009 12:36 a.m.

    This Re-Review is coming in a little late. About a year late. Anyways! Install the game to your hardrive now, and load times are almost gone. I also did this with Blue Dragon, and it had the same effect. It may be the most noticeable load time reduction of any game since being given the ability to install games to the hard drive. The longest load time I have had to wait for was like 4 sec. tops. On to my next pointer. There are times in this game, that you will have to power level your team like a motha (bleeper). Unfortunately, your first go at this will be very early in the game, and that kind of stinks, because you never really get going in the story when this happens so it kind of puts the brakes on. There is a point where you will be on cruise control for awhile and then it happens again. Your at level 50 but need to be at 55 at least to beat a certain mini boss. Kiss 3-4 hours goodbye. The only other gripe, is that experience points come in small doses and the tougher enemies don't always translate into more experience, so if your like me, you will take the easy road and fight the same weakling over and over again until it's level time. I will say this. Early on, each level makes dramatic differences in the strength of your attacks. Sometimes all it takes is one level and you can inch past an end boss. The more I played the more I realized how intentional this sort of system is. I can understand why people will be turned off by this title. Think gears of war + FF = Lost Odyssey. You can feel the influences of both Microsoft and the Former FF creator here. It's not perfect, but it's still pays the ultimate homage to old school RPG's. I love it, and give it 8.5 out of 10
  • Nikiicha11 - January 15, 2009 7:45 p.m.

    Ugh i hate fetch quests ¬¬'

Showing 1-10 of 10 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000

OR…

Connect with Facebook

Log in using Facebook to share comments, games, status update and other activity easily with your Facebook feed.