DISCLAIMER: This review covers both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions of the game.
Two years ago, Game Arts debuted its high-octane action-RPG, Ragnarok Odyssey, a quasi-successor to the decade old MMORPG, Ragnarok Online. In the hopes of mending the absence of a proven Monster Hunter-esque title on the PlayStation Vita, the Japanese developer showcased a satisfactory game that was met with relatively lukewarm reception. Now, the team has released an updated version of the base game for both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita: Ragnarok Odyssey ACE, a renewal that attempts to push past the common shortcomings of a standard expansion. Does ACE meet this lucrative goal, or does it fall short of asserting a bang for the buck?
If you’ve played the original, then ACE will feel right at home. The game’s premise is largely unchanged: engage in quests that will require you to eradicate large masses of monsters, collect materials and cards salvaged from said monsters, then use these materials to upgrade your equipment to better prepare yourself against bigger and badder monsters. The rinse and repeat cyclicality of the quest structure is still present, which may turn off newcomers taking a crack at the series. But if you’ve already logged hours upon hours of gameplay in Ragnarok Odyssey, then never fear, ACE allows you to import your Monster Cards and Weapon Cards. However, not all of your content will transfer – this includes cards received through the Near application. Veteran players will also have to start from the beginning of the campaign.
Rather than improving on the game’s original story, Game Arts focused on expanding the post-game narrative by providing a whole new realm of end-game content called the Tower of Yggdrasil. After acing the final chapter of the base story, you learn that a gaping hole has surfaced at the root of the legendary Nordic tree, Yggdrasil. Surely, many dangers await your arrival, but much like the original game, the expansion story treads shallow waters by also presenting itself through barricades of text that you can’t help but want to skip and trample over. The story accounting your voyage into the famed Yggdrasil is largely uninteresting, but thankfully the same cannot be said about the contents contained inside the end-game dungeon – at least not entirely.
In order to enter the Tower of Yggdrasil, you need “Yggdrasil Droplets.” These can be bought from a new in-game NPC, Norn, or by simply clearing quests in the dungeon itself. Droplets can also be used to purchase rare items through the Norn Exchange. Inside, you’ll tread a few hundred floors with a rest stop on every fifth floor called "The Power Room of Oblivion.” Here you can restock on items or switch to more suitable equipment. The most notable feature about the dungeon is how rewarding it can be for farming materials. This is accentuated through randomly generated trials called the “Ordeals of the Valkyries,” which are timed in-game challenges that will honor you with multiplied drop rates, attack, or defense boosts, among other various bestowments if successfully completed. To my severe disappointment, however, many of the dungeon’s enemies are recycled or re-skinned from the main campaign. Even with some of the new minions and bosses featured in the expansion, the monster palette still feels all too familiar and much too rehashed. This further overwhelms the repetitive nature of the original game – constantly going toe to toe with the same foes only reinforces the monotony.