**Huge thank you to the good folks at Atlus for providing Dashing Nerds with a review copy of Odin Sphere Leifthrasir!**
**NOTE: THIS REVIEW COVERS THE PLAYSTATION 4 VERSION, AND AS SUCH, ANY MENTION REGARDING THE GAMES PERFORMANCE IS SPECIFICALLY IN REGARDS TO THAT VERSION OF THE TITLE**
A Classic Returns
Way, way back in 2008, Vanillaware – a game developer known for their
beautiful storybook graphics – released a little-heralded game called Odin
Sphere for the Playstation 2. This title, while not selling millions of
copies, garnered the reputation of being a hidden gem on the system. A
spiritual successor to the 1997 release Princess Crown, Odin Sphere was
praised all around for its fast-paced combat, art design, and story. Now
in 2016, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir shines the spotlight on that gem with
updated gameplay, high-definition graphics, and general improvements that
bring the world of Erion to a new generation of gamers.
Erion at War
The story of Odin Sphere adopts some of the ideas and events of Norse
mythology. You follow five point-of-view characters as their stories
intermingle with one another. Each character is somehow connected to the
royalty of the five warring nations of Erion. Gwendolyn, the focus of the
first story, is the Valkyrie daughter of Odin, the Demon Lord, who is torn
between following her heart and following the will of her father. The
second story follows the Prince Cornelius of the Pooka (think bunny people)
as he tries to break his curse and reunite with his love. Third is
Mercedes, the Princess of Ringford, who must rally her nation after her
mother is slain by their enemy. The fourth tale follows the Shadow Knight,
Oswald, as he contends with betrayal and slaying mighty creatures for those
he serves. The fifth and final story belongs to Velvet, one of the last two
survivors of the fallen Kingdom of Valentine. The kingdom was destroyed in
a night due to an incident with the Crystallization Cauldron, and her
mission is to prevent a similar event that would bring about Armageddon.
As you progress in the story, you will see many of the same events, but
through new eyes and from different perspectives as you get a larger
picture of the conflict and world of Erion at large – all leading up to the
Refined for the Modern Age
The game industry has changed drastically since the original Odin Sphere
was released in 2007, and Odin Sphere Leifthrasir has been updated to
reflect the different tastes and sensibilities of gamers today. While many
of the systems remain intact from the original title, the game’s mechanics
have been updated and tweaked to make it much more fast-paced and
action-orientated (in the same vein as its younger sibling Muramasa: The
Demon’s Blade, released by Vanillaware after Odin Sphere). Normal attacks
will no longer deplete your POW meter, so you are much freer to string
together punishing and visually striking combos against your foes.
Characters have been given enhanced movement options as well, with the new
ability to backflip assisting in dodging enemy attacks. Luckily, the
slowdown that affected the original title isn’t anywhere to be seen in
Leifthrasir, which adds to the increased speed and flow of the game. A new
leveling and skill system has been added as well, increasing the RPG
aspects of the title and making it feel much more like a fleshed-out Action
RPG. And don’t fret about having to grind! Much of your leveling will come
from cooking, which will net you experience like in the original title, but
can now be used during stages. Cooking is where you will find the best way
to gain that experience to level up. Menu screens, the inventory, money
management – all these systems have also been cleaned up and improved to
lessen the headaches that you may have found in the original release. (No
more having to deal with multiple forms of currency!! HURRAY!!!) The new
interface, particularly when finding scrolls with recipes or information,
is especially improved visually; it now appears as though you are looking
at the scroll itself and not simply at text on a screen.
For those of you who fancy yourselves purists and don’t like the sounds of
all these newfangled fancy things, Leifthrasir gives you the option to play
through the original release as well. The game comes complete with its own
set of separate save files and tons of options, including the original 4:3
aspect ratio and the improved controls from the remake. Everybody wins!
In Case Two Full Games Wasn’t Enough…
There is a lot of content under the hood of this remaster. Right off the
bat, you have two games for the price of one: The remastered Leifthrasir,
and the original Odin Sphere, each one containing seven stories.
Leifthrasir also now adds a new game plus mode, called “Xtra New Game”,
which allows you to carry over your inventory and ability levels while
increasing the difficulty of the enemies. It also features a new
difficulty, Hell, which will lock your health at 200. Still not challenging
enough? There’s also a Boss Rush mode composed of 30 rounds where you will
have to deal with the game’s bosses at level 50 with nothing in terms of
checkpoints or item boxes.
It’s Vanillaware. It’s Damn Pretty!
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir continues to live up to Vanillaware’s pedigree of
beautiful artbook-style graphics. Each character, enemy, boss, and
background are beautifully created and drawn, each with their own distinct
personality coming through. If you enjoyed the soundtrack in the original
game, you will be happy to know that it is still present, with the
beautiful melodies accompanying the beautiful visuals. Odin Sphere has a
great voice cast, with veteran actors Karen Strassman, Yuri Lowenthal,
Jennifer Sekiguchi, Derek Stephen Prince, and Michelle Ruff voicing the
The Best Way to Experience Odin Sphere!
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir shines the light on a title that didn’t receive the
attention it deserved when it was originally released. It is a fun,
fast-paced action RPG that, while it can get repetitive, is enjoyable
through the course of the seven chapters. The improvements made in this new
edition make it an easy choice to recommend the game, for those who always
wanted to check it out and for those new to the franchise as well. With
three options for people to enjoy Leifthrasir (Playstation 3, 4, and the
Vita) at various price points, players have many different ways to
experience the world of Erion.
- Looking even better in HD!
- Frame rate drops no more!
- The refinements to the combat really are great
- Two games for the price of one
- Characters feel and control a bit to similarly, more variety in how they handled would have helped set each character apart from the others more.
- The game gets a bit repetitive after awhile
- This game just screams for a random dungeon mode with randomly generated levels