posted by Thom Holwerda on Wed 21st Jan 2009 22:22 UTC

Lost Odyssey, page 2/2

The Wheelbarrow Issue

The biggest problem, however, is one that plagues all Japanese RPGs: the game is totally and 100% linear. As a player, you never have the idea that you're actually influencing the outcome of the game. You never get the idea that your actions actually make any damn difference to the story. Where in Western RPGs you're at least on the backseat of the car - and in some cases, even in the passenger seat - in a JPRG, you are thrown in the boot of the car, with your hands tied around your back and a sock in your mouth. Back when I was about 16 years old, I had a "friend" who we only asked along with us because he had a car and a driver's license - I now know how he must've felt.

During the entire course of Lost Odyssey, you get the feeling you're just pushing a wheelbarrow full of your party members from one cutscene to another (with a bloody random encounter every three steps). I would've had much more fun if I could've just skipped the gameplay parts, and go straight to the cutscenes.

Yes, people. This is a game where you actually want to skip the gameplay. Bravo.

So, the story then? Is the story the reason to play this game? Well, no, not exactly. There's a bad guy, he wants to conquer the world and destroy everything blah blah, and you're the tormented hero who has to stop the bad guy. It's throw-away stuff.

Dreams

You're probably thinking I'm crazy right about now. Why would I advise you to play a game that's so catastrophically bad? No gameplay, crappy story? Well, there are two reasons why you should run out and grab this game out of the bargain bin or borrow it from a friend.

First of all, this game is absolutely beautifully designed. The buildings, the forests, the enemies, the characters, the caves, the everything: the style in which they are designed is mind-blowingly beautiful. Sure, the main character has a severe case of the emo (his most-often used line is "..." - I'm not kidding), and many other characters have dragonballzee-hair (which I hate because I'm not Japanese or 12 years old), but still the overall style is very pretty and enticing.

However, the most important reason why this game is worth playing is because of what the game calls "dreams". You see, the main character is immortal, and he has been alive for a thousand years, so he has the memories of a thousand years of living. The bad guy wiped his memory (or whatever), and during the course the game, you reclaim those memories in the form of dreams, and these dreams manifest themselves in a very clever way.

You read them. The dreams are long stories that unfold themselves page by page, sentence by sentence, word by word, or sometimes even letter by letter, accompanied by fancy transitions, subtle sound effects to set the ambience, and colours to set the mood. It's difficult to explain, but it's done in a very elegant way. And the stories themselves are very well-written - touching, clever, full of unexpected turns. They are well worth the agonising "gameplay" that you have to sit through.


Conclusion

Apart from the bucketload of crap that I spewed above, the game is packed the brim with other faults and frakked up design decisions. The lips aren't in sync with the dialogue during the cutscenes. The NPCs are pointless because they all have just one line to say. Solutions to "puzzles" are explained before you start them by your party members because they probably think I'm retarded (and I wasn't too far off, two discs into the game) - frak up enough times and they'll complete them for you.

Still, I found the game weirdly enticing, and kept on playing until somewhere at the end of disc 3 (out of 4), when I finally had enough of the excruciatingly bad gameplay.

The problem with this game is that I'm pretty sure that if you're Japanese, or twelve, and a fan of Japanese RPGs, you're going to just eat this game up, because you're going to believe it's like Frankenfruity, but better. However, for the rest of the world, the only viable reason to buy this game is the dream sequences.

In other words, open your contacts folder, and find out if there's someone in there who owns the game and has completed it, copy his savegame, and enjoy instant-access to the dream sequences.

Or, if you have no friends, buy the game, learn to count to ten, get an umbrella for the pile of shit coming your way, and, well, sweet dreams, buddy.


Game Details

  • Title: Lost Odyssey
  • Platform: XBox 360
  • Release Date: February 2008

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  1. Lost Odyssey, page 1/2
  2. Lost Odyssey, page 2/2
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