Odin Sphere Leifthrasir (PS Vita) Review

By Josh Di Falco 31.07.2016 2

Review for Odin Sphere Leifthrasir on PS Vita

Originally released towards the latter stages of the PlayStation 2's life cycle, Vanillaware's attempt at keeping the 2D side-scrollers from becoming stagnant gave the genre a favourable boost forward with the charming title that was Odin Sphere. After winning countless 'Best of' awards in 2007, it was only right for this beautiful game to finally make the leap to the current generation of consoles (read our PS4 review here). With a wonderfully woven tale of five interconnected stories, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir can be enjoyed by newcomers to the series, while offering plenty of nostalgic value to those who loved the original.

This PlayStation 4 and PS Vita remaster contains both the original game that was released on the PS2, as well as Leifthrasir. While it may seem like this is just a graphical overhaul into that of high definition, it couldn't be farther from the truth. The entire battle system has been rebuilt in order to be encompassing for new players, by streamlining the previously difficult battle system into a more accessible mode of play.

Leifthrasir begins with a little girl called Alice, who reads a series of books that are set in the world of Erion. Each book centres around a character of nobility that is associated with one of the five realms that form the continent. While the stories are played out in a set order, the way that each story entwines together to form a grander overall story is a magical and nicely executed achievement. The voice acting is sensational in bringing the characters and the world around them to life, while tugging at the emotional heartstrings in some of the better performances. The game can be played with English or Japanese voice overs, or it can be played without either. Though not listening to the voice acting may be doing it a disservice considering how great the performances are.

The five characters are unique in their play style, with significant differences between each of them as they each bring something new to the table in terms of battle mechanics and personality. The story revolves around the five arcs surrounding the Valkyrie Gwendolyn, the small but lively Cornelius the Pooka Prince, the crossbow-wielding Princess Mercedes, renowned dragon-slayer and shadow knight Oswald, and an orphan of the forest: Princess Velvet. These characters all play quite differently during the battles, requiring the ability to adapt to the new and unique play styles, as each of them bring their own strengths and weaknesses to the table.

Screenshot for Odin Sphere Leifthrasir on PS Vita

Each tale is made up of a sequence of chapters that are contained to the eight locations that are accessible during the story. Each of the locations is so unique in their visual design, with an accompanied soundtrack that superbly separates the areas into feeling like vastly different worlds. None of the stages share that feeling of sameness to them in terms of the visual aesthetic, with each world being detailed and beautiful enough that they almost feel like a character on their own.

The stages are made up of a series of screens that consist of a multitude of battle areas, rest spots, and the bridging screens, which generally contain a treasure chest of sorts to find. Playing like a traditional left-to-right 2D side-scroller, the maps are simple and well-developed, and there are generally multiple branching paths to take to get to the end. While most of the bridging screens have a beginning and ending point to them, the battle areas are truly unique. Due to the high intensity-fuelled battles, these areas are on a constant loop, and as such do not have an end point on the screen.

The battle areas are rated on a 5-star scale, thus allowing for the characters to prepare for each battle ahead accordingly. Intermittent in each stage are mini-boss battles, which aim to ramp the difficulty up somewhat, and force the characters to use different strategies and abilities to take them down with their varying degree of challenges. A major boss battle lies at the end of every stage, and is usually the pinnacle of all that has been learnt up to that point, forcing the player to rely on quick reactions and level-headed thinking during an otherwise messy and convoluted fight.

Battles are quite fun and frantic, with a multitude of varied enemies allowing for some difficult occurrences, thus encouraging the use of a more complex skill set. The characters can link up basic attacks with the use of abilities that are learnt throughout the game, while applying a range of status effects on the enemies in order to ensure victory. The best part about these fights is that so much can be happening on the screen, and there is absolutely no slowdown or drop in frame rate. The game runs smoothly throughout the entire ordeal, and coupled with the fact that there is next to no loading screens between stages, makes for a very seamless playing experience.

Screenshot for Odin Sphere Leifthrasir on PS Vita

On the completion of each battle, a grade is then given, taking into account the time spent on the battle, the number of hits performed in the longest chain among other things. This then determines the reward given to the character, thus incentivising the need to perform better in battles, and to complete them as efficiently as possible in order to receive the best rewards possible. Such rewards consist of currency, health foods or the various potions found in the game.

Defeating enemies also rewards the characters with Phozons, which are purple spirits that rise from the dead, and can be used to level up unlocked abilities, as well as the main weapon of choice for the character. Due to the amount of abilities that each characters possess, and the amount of Phozons that are required to completely max out a skill, these are the crux for grinding.

While it is to be expected in most RPGs, Leifthrasir does not actually require a lot of grinding in order to complete the game. Though if there is grinding to be had, it certainly does not feel like it, due to the constant rewards that are given after each battle. Stages can be replayed at higher levels in order to increase the difficulty of the enemies, while allowing for further treasures to be found, thus serving as an incentive to revisit these areas in each succeeding chapter.

Screenshot for Odin Sphere Leifthrasir on PS Vita

While Phozons are used to unlock abilities, the characters' levels are linked to the experience (EXP) earned. Unlike most other RPGs, however, EXP is not earned in battle, but rather by consuming food that restore health. Such foods can be found in the stages in the form of Mulberries and Napples. Such fruits can either be dropped by enemies, or can be planted and nurtured from a seed. Though each seed requires a different amount of Phozons for the fruits to ripen, ensuring that there are enough seeds in the inventory can make all the difference if health potions are hard to come by.

Maury's Touring Restaurant is perhaps one of the most gratifying experiences in the game. Food recipes can be found throughout the chapters, and once brought to Maury, he will cook the dish, with each dish containing a significant EXP boost. The only catch is that the characters must collect the required ingredients to create each dish, but the reward is more than worth the grinding for each of them. Found at each 'Rest' spot, it is difficult to leave the area without having to call on Maury to see if he can whip up a dish from the various ingredients that may have been collected on the journey.

Leifthrasir also contains the art of alchemy, thus granting the characters the ability to mix together various potions and ingredients to create some new potion mixes, which vary from recovering Health, to being an Antidote to inflicted poisons, to offensive potions such as Blaze or Cyclone that can be used to attack the enemy. Messing around with alchemy is a fun and useful venture, and they can be rewarding in the sense of increasing the grade of the potions, which in turn affect the statistical output of them.

While it's been mentioned already, there is no denying that this game is a beautiful visual accomplishment to look at. The entire game looks like a moving painting, with its crisp and vibrant art style combined with a great mix of colours on the palette. Coupled with an amazing soundtrack, this is a gorgeous looking game where even in the midst of battle the scene still looks beautiful among the visual crescendo.

Screenshot for Odin Sphere Leifthrasir on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

It is incredibly difficult to find a fault with Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, and as it can probably be gauged by the length of this review, there is so much to do in this game. Side offerings, such as finding all the alchemy combinations and food recipes, help beef up what is an already 40-plus hour game, consisting of five story arcs that centre around five unique and colourful characters. They each in turn have a different battle style that require getting used to in order to master all five of their skill trees. Add to that a beautifully crafted and visually appealing art style and a harmonious soundtrack, and Leifthrasir is elevated into one of the best RPGs that certainly needs to be experienced.

Developer

Vanillaware

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Glad you enjoyed this as much as I did, Josh. Really is an excellent game.

Yeah I had an absolute blast with it. It was a great world to get lost in, and rich with story. The interconnecting story between the five arc was interesting, and they pulled it off brilliantly. Plus I loved finding recipes and ingredients for Maury.

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