Ragnarok Odyssey Review
- Posted November 30th, 2012 at 01:03 EDT by Timothy Nunes
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Game Art seeks to create a title that'll give Monster Hunter a run for its money. Though it's not quite there, it's a very solid first attempt to an exclusive title that should continue to grace the PlayStation Vita.
- Combat that's easy to start, fun to master
- Highly customizable characters
- Smooth, fast-paced gameplay
- Very repetitive
- Card system doesn't have desired impact
- Overall experience lacks engrossing depth
Fans of the Monster Hunter series and the PlayStation Vita have sought a Monster Hunter installment on Sony’s handheld, but nothing has been officially claimed. Fortunately, Game Art is looking to fill that void with Ragnarok Odyssey, featuring many similar concepts found in the cult series. A game such as that is a daunting comparison, but the PS Vita needs a make it instead of break it title, and an engaging experience like what Ragnarok Odyssey hopes to achieve could just about do it.
The game starts off in the isolated enclave called The Forgotten Lands, and the created player character is the newest recruit in the defense force. The plot is, for the lack of a better word, sprinkled in between quests rather than delivered as new areas open up, and you'll embark on quests through caverns, snowy peaks, and even an upside-down tower. This Norse-inspired title hides little mentions for those who are interested, so the limited plot has some content for those willing to look a bit. Outside of that, the premise of the game lays simply in accepting quests, killing monsters, and tweaking equipment, and it's all for the sake of taking on new and more challenging content--which is in no small supply.
Character creation doesn't end at the beginning. Ragnarok Odyssey allows for character customization throughout the entire game, and many of the style inspirations stem from Eastern influences like cat ears and a piece of toast in its mouth, and, of course, Norse influences like horned helms and shoulder pads. To go even further, RO includes an emote system, where players can reflect their feelings, or just act silly, with cheers, charges, or shocks; players can even use these emotes to play Paper, Rock, Scissors mid-game, if they so choose. Even further than that, you can change hair color and style, facial expressions, armor and weapons. The game even allows equipment that starts specific to each class to be used by all classes fairly early on in the game, so customization is high, especially for a portable game. Oh, and don't even worry about picking your class; you can change that whenever you want after you finish the first chapter.
All core equipment, which includes weapons and armor, has card slots, and those cards are used to better character stats. Materials are collected from enemies and, with the combination of in-game cash, can be turned into said attire and weaponry. All equipment also has stats, but equipping cards to your character allows you to really build your character how you want. The only limitation to this is that stats needed by each class aren't exactly clear, but they're not exactly as important as they may seem either. Having stat boosts is all well and good, and they certainly make some difference, but they don't hold the kind of importance that many gamers--specifically those who know how important numerical stats are in MMOs, for example--tend to expect. If a character wants to compensate extra health for damage, that's easy to do, and stacking defensive numbers works just as well to stay alive. What this ultimately means is that any player can play this game as he or she so wishes and iron out a character to personal standards. With that being said, it's only slightly unfortunate that the numbers themselves couldn't hold a bit more significance. All core character stats--such as attack, health, energy, and defense--increase after each chapter, so maintaining gear is only important when bosses appear in the quest lineup; it's a major catch-22, because so many kill quests require only button mashing and navigating to complete, where bosses are far more complicated, hit much harder, and hit more often.
Boss fights have their own levels of intrigue, but the inconsistencies between those fights and the monotonously repetitive kill quests seems to counter the efforts that Game Art has put into those boss fights. What would normally be celebrated are looked down upon, only because the difficulty of the fights appears out of nowhere and becomes almost a roadblock while the player takes the time to practice and fine tune combos and dodging. Players can either master their techniques by farming out easy quests or wasting in-game money constantly getting manhandled by the bosses. To be perfectly honest, this game is really, really fun, but ... (continued on next page)
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