Odin Sphere Leifthrasir Review
Right from the beginning prologue, where I saw the bear-skinned berserker fighting the armored horse knight, I knew I was going to love this game. A very long, story-driven 2D action game with heavy RPG elements and a Norse/anime visual style!? Yes! Yes! Yes! Every kind of yes! What an unbelievably appealing blend! If you’ve at all considered that you might be interested in Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, go and buy it now. If you’d like some more info, then please… keep reading.
Odin Sphere is the story of 5 warring nations in the word of Erion. You begin using the character Gwendolyn, daughter of Odin (who is a Demon Lord in this game’s mythology), but there are 5 “books” which can be unlocked, each of which tells a different perspective in the overall story. None of the characters are black and white heroes or villains, and the protagonist of one story might be the antagonist in another. The whole plot is a very compelling tale, and one of the main reasons to play this game.
The original Odin Sphere has a combat system reminiscent of a Super Nintendo beat-em-up, but with a power bar that forces the player to take breaks; if the power bar runs out, the hero enters a very vulnerable cool-down period. This forces players to strategically choose when to voluntarily cease their actions/combos. As much as I love the original combat system, it has been completely overhauled. That power bar is gone as far as normal attacks are concerned, and only exists as a slowly filling magic meter for special attacks.
“All of these new additions allow for waaay more fast-paced battles like other Vanillaware classics – such as Dragon’s Crown, and Muramasa: The Demon Blade – and create much more varied gameplay.”
The player now has a much greater depth of moves; there’s no longer just button mashy SNES one-button attacks: there are evades, slides to break blocks, multiple aerial attacks, and it’s all very quick and responsive. Phozons (experience crystals) are gathered automatically, and items are easily (or automatically) picked up. The fruit planting/harvesting/eating mechanic has also been simplified, and interestingly, eating the food you plant yields experience as well as health. Some areas now have height and platforming mechanics. All of these new additions allow for waaay more fast-paced battles like other Vanillaware classics – such as Dragon’s Crown, and Muramasa: The Demon Blade – and create much more varied gameplay. And if you like the original version better, you can just switch the game to Classic Mode.
The game’s map is full of diverse, gorgeous areas, and within each of those are nodes that contain combat zones, bosses, and shops. Each combat zone or boss area offers a starred difficulty rating, so the player can see what they’re about to get themselves into, and potentially alter their path. All of the enemies have to be defeated in a combat area, which gives the player experience and unlocks paths to other areas on the map. All of this leads up to the inevitable battle against that map’s boss, which allows the story to advance. It’s a great system that leads to some fun battling, grinding, exploring, and decision making. A fun new addition to Leifthrasir is a lot more mini-boss levels, to break up the potential monotony of similar battles leading up to full boss battles.
“It was one of those PS2 titles released after the PS3 came out, which, because of its art style, has always looked incredible.”
Leifthrasir consists of completely re-drawn graphics in a very appealing blend of Norse and anime stylings. The new game doesn’t really look any better than the original (although definitely slightly crisper), but that’s not a complaint about this HD version and more praise to the original Odin Sphere. It was one of those PS2 titles released after the PS3 came out, which, because of its art style, has always looked incredible. Everything happens on a 2D plane, where the ground is spherical, like a hill, so combat areas end up joining ends and feel like the Little Prince’s tiny planet. The music is whimsical and catchy, and I’m pretty sure even shares some tracks with Dragon’s Crown. The voice acting and English translation have been smoothed out and can be switched, as well as the difficulty. All of this runs at a very smooth 60 frames. Like all of Vanillaware’s titles, Odin Sphere oozes with quality and polish, and because of this HD re-release, this one’s had extra polish time.
Because of all of the love and effort put into this project, even though it carries the price tag of a full new release game, it’s totally worth it. The main story will easily take most players a good 40-60 hours, and with multiple difficulties, character options, and score rankings, there’s plenty of reason to keep playing once it’s been beat. Odin Sphere is one of those games I want to go back to and play again every few years or so. There’s also a Storybook Edition which only costs an extra $20, and comes with a t-shirt, hardcover art book, art print, metal slipcase, and handsome outer box to house it all. If you’re a fan of Super Nintendo beat-em-ups, RPGs, platformers, 2D aesthetics, or anime, do yourself a favor and pick Odin Sphere Leifthrasir up. It’s a serious game of the year contender, and undisputed grand slam champion of HD remakes.
***A PS4 review code was provided by the publisher***
- Gorgeous 2D hand-drawn art style
- Choice of classic or upgraded gameplay
- Tons of content
- Must like 2D action games