It took Atlus 8 years but they addressed my complaints towards Odin Sphere. I wanted a more hack and slash experience and with Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir, I got exactly what I asked for. They retooled the game to be more action friendly, doubled the target framerate to 60FPS and bumped the resolution to 1080p. With all the changes and the time between the remaster and original PlayStation 2 release, this felt like a brand new game.
I remember the slowdowns in the original release of Odin Sphere vividly. It was painfully sluggish and not the gratifying slowdown that I can relish in when I’ve inflicted too much chaos on screen. The Lefthrasir release managed to maintain a smooth 60FPS for a fast majority of the game. It’s only when I’ve dumped Whirlwind, Cyclone, Volcano and Killer Cloud potions into a group of enemies along with my character’s own flurry of attacks that the framerate buckled. I would have preferred the game to cope better with those situations but there was so much happening on screen, I tolerated it.
As profound and eye opening as the performance improvement was, the more action oriented tilt to the game lent itself to a more stylish and flashy game to play. I was flying around across each area scooping up enemies into the air and unleashing beautiful fury with incredible ease. I was having a blast and thought this was exactly what I hoped for.
With these changes in mind, I thought I would be able to enjoy and breeze through Odin Sphere with renewed vigor and enthusiasm. However, I ran into the same brick wall that hampered my enjoyment the first time around. The was too long and recycled too much content for little story gains. I understood that they were telling an intertwining story from multiple vantage points but was it necessary to cycle through the same environments with each of the five characters?
I felt it was unnecessary to visit the Fire Kingdom or Horn Mountain with every character. Fighting the same bosses with multiple characters devalued everyone’s accomplishments. I lost track of how many times Odette, Odin and other big wigs were defeated by my hands only to have them survive or die for story reasons.
I gave up on the original release of Odin Sphere in the middle of chapter 4 before calling it quits. I managed to will my way through to the end of Leifthrasir and found the pay off a little on the the nose. I love the voice talent involved — I was pleased by another appearance by Junpei’s voice actor — but subtlety wasn’t Odin Sphere’s strong suit. The story was laid out through repetition and the deft touch of a mack truck. As a result, the ending wasn’t a surprise at all. In fact, the real surprise was the comprehension test at the end. I genuinely enjoyed the process of piecing together the final chapter.
With experience comes a better understanding of systems and how games generally operate. I leveraged and exploited the alchemy, planting and cooking systems to greater affect in Leifthrasir and refined even more as I progressed through the game. It was telling after revisiting my first “character build”, Gwendolyn, and discovering how low her stats were compared to the latter characters. I guess you can attribute that refinement down to repetitive nature of the game but I wouldn’t say it was worth it.
Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is the best version of Odin Sphere available. It’s technically superior and many of the gameplay refinements yielded a more action oriented game which I hoped for. I enjoyed playing as all the characters and was genuinely curious until the credits rolled. Unfortunately, it’s a game from an era that valued quantity over quality and in the case of Odin Sphere, quantity hurt quality. There were sound mechanics and systems in place but there wasn’t enough narrative content to stretch the game to towards the 30 hour mark. I would have been satisfied with two-thirds or even half of that.