Back in 2012 Ragnarok Odyssey, a game based on the universe of Ragnarok Online, was released exclusively on the PS Vita. Now, almost two years later Ragnarok Odyssey returns not only with a mere revamp but also by seizing a spot on the PS3 as the game supports PS3/PS Vita Cross Play. Renamed Ragnarok Odyssey ACE, it can be considered something along the lines of the original game but with an expansion containing additional content and features. Although Ragnarok Odyssey ACE definitely sounds like the version to snag, with a gameplay style comparable to the ever-popular Monster Hunter series and the recent Toukiden, the question still remains: “Will it shine through and evidently surpass the original?”
With a heavy emphasis on combat, the story is on the lighter side content wise. After you create your character by navigating through a fairly extensive selection of hair, face, skin colour, and voice types your adventure begins. You are brought into the world as a new recruit in The Forgotten Lands where help is needed to ward off threats. As you prorgress through the game more of the story slowly unfolds between quests after overcoming the massive filler-filled and over-the-top conversations with NPCs. While playing I found that I didn’t care for the story. Putting it bluntly, there isn’t really anything to care about. All my attention immediately locked onto the quest objectives and not the backdrop of the narrative. The story basically creates an acceptable structure or framework for the game to flow, as it doesn’t do anything extravagant. Meanwhile, the humor and relations that attempted to charm and connect me to the game actually made me disassociate from it. I found myself distracted or skipping through most of the dialogue when I had to mingle with an NPC. The mostly unnecessary and disengaging dialogue didn’t aid in laying the story out nor did it hold my interest.
Aside from the story and dialogue, the fast-paced and simple combat does the game justice…sort of. It does do more justice than the original thanks to the new ACE skill system, but Ragnarok Odyssey ACE still lacks the depth and complexity for players that want to go beyond. The combat is a breeze to get used to and great at the start, but it eventually becomes somewhat tedious and develops into a mindless button masher. Great for facing a horde of enemies, but not so much when facing head on with a giant boss. Nonetheless, combat is still a strong point as it should be. It’s easy to get back to and doesn’t require a lot of thought or planning to launch, which is admirable. Players can change their class between quests by simply switching to the specific class assigned armor too. Nice and simple!
The AI in the game is good in terms of boss fights, but when it’s just the enemy minions you fight it really comes down to strength in numbers. As the combat is fast-paced, so are the enemy movements and actions. Being fast-paced the existence of a logical or tactical combat style is missing. Thus, throwing a horde of little minions is what does the job over a “smart” AI here.
In place of a leveling system is an interesting card system. Cards are used to fill available slots on your armor to give you stat and ability boosts or bonuses. As a result, armor is freely up to you to choose to your liking without the restriction of choosing stats or bonuses over presentation. While some armor can hold more cards than others you will have to manage which cards to equip and which to leave behind. It’s a nifty and straightforward system that lets you tweak your character’s stats until you’re ready to venture out on a quest.
When not facing enemies in quests or collecting a certain amount of required items you can roam around the hub-like area where merchants and the like reside. Purchase some weapons or even edit the way your character looks in between quests. You can partake in quests alone, dragging some AI mercenaries along (over a dozen more than the original), or you can head online with friends and/or people you are yet to befriend. There are three types of quests to choose from: story, free, or extra. Quests all contain something along the lines of kill ‘x’ amount of enemies or collect ‘y’ amount of items; it does get repetitive. While understandable that the emphasis is heavily weighed on the combat, it’s evident that it’s being weighed down a little too much.
Whether venturing out alone or with others the adventure is the same; a quest is chosen and you go and fulfill it. While going at one’s own pace can be enjoyable, heading out with others is definitely an excellent and key feature to Ragnarok Odyssey ACE. Whether you want to strike a pose, flash an emoticon, or freely type out what’s on your mind, it’s all available and at your disposal. Especially with the cross play feature between the PS Vita and PS3; Ragnarok Odyssey ACE does a superb job with online play. Exclusive to Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is the new dungeon named Tower of Yggdrasil. With different enemies and layouts every time you enter, the levels you overcome and enemies you face within them are always different and entertaining when you have the time to conquer the numerous levels.
Visually, Ragnarok Odyssey ACE looks terrific. With bright and colorful environments, characters, and enemies, it stands out from other Monster Hunter style games. With its exaggerated cartoon-like art style, it definitely gives the game a light-hearted tone. Not to mention, some enemies look too cute to be on the harmful side. Even with the fast-paced slashing and constant movement the animations are smooth.
The soundtrack for the game isn’t something to go too crazy about, but it does give you the option to choose what song you want playing in the background, so, instead of suffering through a certain area’s theme song you can choose whatever you like, which is awesome. Voice acting is limited to the start of a conversation with a quick “hello” or something along those lines. I wish there was more but alas there is not. Sound effects are solid and fit in nicely to finish the game off. Like the art style, the sound effects are very cartoon-like rather than emitting a more serious feel; nothing over-the-top, but it does nicely finish and package everything together quite nicely.
Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is great to pick up and play for a while, but as time goes by it might feel that there’s not much to delve into anymore and may even become too simple for you. Although it’s an improvement from the original, it’s still lacking in even its supposedly strongest feature, the combat, as the improvement just isn’t something to truly boast about. While it’s the way to go compared to its original PS Vita only release in 2012, Ragnarok Odyssey ACE might not be the Monster Hunter replacement you’re looking for, that being said with the implementation of cross play it might just keep you busy for a while.