It’s been about a month since I last played Odin Sphere. On Sunday I played for six, maybe seven, hours (with a break in the middle), finishing the “Valkyrie” story and making, I think, significant progress in “The Pooka Prince” story. I finished “Valkyrie” in a little over ten hours, and I played about five hours of “The Pooka Prince”.
In Odin Sphere, you play as five different characters in five different stories. Their fates are intertwined with each other and with the fate of the world. The character selection screen is set up so that you’re actually a little girl who is ‘reading’ all the different stories of those five characters. It’s a pretty neat concept.
If you haven’t played Odin Sphere and are planning to, you may want to avert your eyes, because there will be big plot spoilers. I’m going to discuss why I like or dislike certain things in the plot, and at the end, what I like or dislike about the game play and other big-picture aspects.
I enjoyed the “Valkyrie” story. Gwendolyn, the title Valkyrie, is emotionally damaged, needy, and a little tragic, which was not so cool but interesting at the same time, but I was engaged in the story because I wanted to see what would happen. I think it was interesting that she was fully aware that the romance between herself and Oswald was manufactured and created by magic in no small part, but she was content with this and even fought for it because it was all she had. Interesting, but a little sad. She was always a bit of a tragic figure from the very start of the story. Actually Oswald is a bit tragic himself, so maybe they make a good couple. On the part of Oswald, though, I disliked the fact that he basically put Gwendolyn on a pedestal and called his feelings ‘love’. Maybe more will be explained when I get to his story.
The end boss for “Valkyrie” was hard. It took me about a dozen (maybe more?) tries to defeat her. Maybe I just really suck at this game—I am playing on Easy mode. When thinking back on boss battles that frustrated me, I expected this one to rank highly. However Odette, Queen of the Dead doesn’t even come close to the Spider Ball Guardian in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes or even Metroid Prime in Metroid Prime—two boss battles that immediately come to mind as being particularly difficult, annoying, and a little tedious.
I am enjoying “The Pooka Prince” much more than “Valkyrie”. I think that, at least so far, the love between Cornelius, the Pooka Prince of the title, and Velvet is genuine and not influenced by magic. I like this. In “Valkyrie”, Velvet made an appearance and she seemed a little annoying, but in “The Pooka Prince”, the player gets to see another side of her, and right now she doesn’t seem as one-dimensional as in “Valkyrie”. Velvet seems like a fairly strong character, personality-wise. I like Cornelius as a character. I think he is pretty cool. He is a genuinely honourable character (so far), which I like. He is totally in love with Velvet, and he was willing to abdicate his claim to the Titanian throne for her. That’s okay, but the significant bit for me is that the feelings are apparently mutual on Velvet’s part. I like this. Also, I love Cornelius’s spin jump attacks. I really enjoy being able to attack by bouncing off of enemies, never touching the ground, until my power runs out.
From a general story perspective, I really like the fact that the game explores these characters’ personal motivations and relationships. I especially like the romantic bits. I can’t wait to see how else the characters’ lives intertwine with each other.
I’m enjoying the interesting level and mapping system, the side-scrolling beat ’em up action, plant management, the mechanics behind eating food, and story telling via cut scenes. I really love the art style. I like the music, too.
The English voice actors are actually quite tolerable, to my surprise. I initially played it with Japanese voices on and English subtitles, but I became curious about the English voices. I think I will stick with English from now on.
Gathering ingredients for the recipes, which level up your Hit Points, is kind of annoying because the special coins you need to pay with seem kind of uncommon. Some of the ingredients are uncommon drops or they are expensive to buy. I was able to make one really good dish for Gwendolyn in the Pooka Kitchen, and hopefully I will get to do the same with Cornelius. It’s difficult for me to remember all of the possible foods I can have the Pookas cook for me, and to remember to save those ingredients rather than use them in battle. I think I will start taking notes so I can level up my HP faster than just eating on the battlefield.
I am having trouble with the Alchemy system. I don’t know how to make potions that aren’t based upon Material 0. This means I have not actually made any of the more advanced potions. I know that you’re supposed to combine potions and the Material numbers are multiplied when you combine them, but I’ve never received any potions dropped in the world that aren’t either Material 0 or Material 10. Combining those two nets you a Material 0, so that is kind of useless.
Now that I understand the Power Point and Hit Point leveling system, I’m approaching leveling more strategically with Cornelius than I did with Gwendolyn. When I ended “Valkyrie”, Gwendolyn’s PP was significantly higher than her HP, and with Cornelius, I am trying to keep PP and HP balanced.
I don’t know whether I will have a drought of another month, and then do a really long play session like I did over the weekend, or whether I will play it little by little. I’ll just see where my mood takes me. I think it’s a pretty solid game so far, and I’m having fun.