“Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is the all-encompassing HD remake of the original PlayStation 2 ‘Greatest Hits’ title, Odin Sphere. Developed by the legendary Vanillaware and published by ATLUS, the game is steeped in Norse mythology with intricate plots that wouldn’t be out of place in a Wagner opera. Five character plots intertwine as the world of Erion hurtles towards the end of days as warring kingdoms clash for control. “
– Official Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir press release
– Absolutely stunning visuals –
Whilst Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir has a lot of things going for it, I couldn’t help to be most impressed with its visual design – it’s absolutely superb with incredible 2D graphics that really bring the game world to life. It runs at a constant 60fps at 1080p too, keeping the game looking simply sublime.
The game features a world full to the brim of colour and creativity, the whole aesthetic looking like something straight out of a fairy tale world. You’ll venture through enchanting forests, explore ominous desert ruins, tread across snowy mountains with stunning auroras lighting up the night sky – almost every location you visit in the game is awe-inspiring and has you eagerly anticipating where the game will take you next.
Even the characters that feature in the game look great with creatively designed sprites living up to the imaginative world in which they inhabit. Be it the heroic knights, the bewitching faeries or perhaps the grotesque beasts that you’re tasked with defeating, everything looks fantastic in Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir. They’re beautifully animated too, keeping up with the slick style that the game is oozing with throughout.
Developers Vanillaware have done an astounding job with the visuals of the game – it felt like a masterpiece of art direction from start to finish. Video games are meant to take you to these beautiful and often zany worlds and Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir really delivers on every front.
– Enjoyable combat mechanics –
The bulk of the game is spent taking on the many enemies that inhabit the world of Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir, so it’s a good job that combat feels so satisfying. The controls are ultra-responsive, allowing you the freedom to easily string together a series of combos and switch from foe to foe with minimal fuss. Sure, it can feel a little like button mashing at times, but there’s certainly an art to this ‘button mashing’ and there’s a lot to learn before you’ll be unleashing hellish high-figure combos upon your enemies.
Whilst you have your standard attacks that string together with ease, each character also has access to a set of special moves that are unique to them. There are five playable characters in the game and each one manages to feel different to play as, bringing their own unique attacking styles that you’ll learn to master. Besides the special moves, you’ll also be sliding into attacks, using aerial launchers to hit some air-combos and gliding across the sky to attack from above. Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir certainly does a great job of making you feel like a bad ass in battle.
Of course, you’re also able to defend yourself against enemies with competent blocking and dodging skills, though I couldn’t help but to follow the ‘offence is the best defence’ strategy in most cases.
Admittedly, you won’t have a lot of difficulty beating up most of the standard enemies you come across in the game. There are a few enemies that can cause a fair bit of damage if you get caught in one of their attacks, but I never actually suffered a death at the hands of a standard enemy. Bosses on the other hand provide some chaotic battles that’ll require you to use each and every skill at your disposal – this is where you’ll suddenly see your death count rise up. They’re impressive encounters though and certainly provide the challenge that is often missing throughout the bulk of the game.
– Strong RPG elements –
Whilst it’s easy to consider Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir a 2D action title, it also features a ton of RPG elements. One example is the game’s length – it’ll take you roughly thirty hours to work through the main game, though there’s plenty of replayability on offer if you try to discover every hidden secret or take on any optional bosses.
You’ll get to level up the characters of the game too, improving both their stats and also giving them access to some new skills and abilities. The best way to see your characters improve is through eating fruit you grow yourself or by visiting a restaurant in-game, giving the chef a recipe and ingredients and paying the fee to have a beautiful dish served up for you. It’s certainly an unusual approach to levelling up, but it’s entertaining nonetheless – there’ll be plenty of grinding to unlock all the necessary ingredients though.
Luckily you’ll be collecting plenty of these ingredients just by playing through the game, as well as additional items and accessories that boost your stats. Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is quite generous with its loot, perhaps a little too generous given how tricky the inventory system can be to manage. Thankfully as you progress through the game it becomes a lot more manageable, especially since you’re able to improve how much you’re able to carry.
– An entertaining story –
The fact that you’re playing through Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir as five different characters means you also get to witness five different perspectives of the events that unfold in the game. The fact that each of these characters belongs to one of the five nations at war brings in some interesting scenarios too, especially when they overlap with each other. There’s certainly an interesting story on offer in Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir and despite featuring some often serious undertones it still manages to be charmingly whimsical.
Each character in the game is well developed and has their own unique personality too – no-one in the game is one-dimensional and when the game shows you their relationships with other characters and how they respond to each challenging situation you really begin to form a bond with them. There’s some great voice acting in the game that brings these characters to life too – you’re able to switch between English or Japanese VOs.
I really liked how the game was presented in a storybook form too. When you start the game you take on the role of a girl in her attic who is reading about the tales of these daring adventures from a collection of books. I’d mentioned earlier that the game had a fairy tale feel to it and the way its initially presented lives up to that comparison.
– The original Odin Sphere is part of the package –
I never played the original release of Odin Sphere so it’s been difficult for me to compare it to Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir – fortunately the original version of the game is included if you want to check out the game in its 2007 form.
I didn’t spend too much time with it, but after briefly trying it out it’s clear that Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is the superior edition. Still, it’s neat that the option to play it in its original form is available.
– Some parts of the game can feel repetitive –
You’ll often get into tricky situations where you’ll need to improve your characters skills in order to progress, often forcing you to re-visit previous levels in the game to level up. Whilst it isn’t too much of a drag, it can be a little repetitive playing through previously visited locations all over again – especially when you have to do it as multiple characters. Fortunately the gameplay is enjoyable enough that it never becomes too much of a chore, but it’s still frustrating that progression is halted by the need to grind your levels.
I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on Odin Sphere over the last nine years – it’s an absolutely fantastic action RPG that’s as entertaining to play as it is beautiful to look at. Whilst it’s arrival on the Playstation 2 was a little late into the console’s life-cycle, this new and improved release in the form of Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir not only gives returning gamers an all-new way to play the game but will also allow those who missed out on it the first time around (including myself!) a chance to experience this marvelous gem of a game. Buy it now – you won’t regret it!