With the arrival of summer comes a good reason to stay indoors out of the heat: Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, a high-definition remake of the 2008 Odin Sphere that originally released by Atlus on the PlayStation 2. In the vein of “great-games-you’ve-been-told-repeatedly-to-play-but-haven’t,” Leifthrasir is set for a revamped re-release on PlayStation 4, PS Vita and PlayStation 3. Luckily the new coat of paint does quite nicely to reinvigorate an already fantastic game.
Odin Sphere is a game framed around several intertwining stories that feed into a main overarching plot. These stories are divvied up as separate “books” in the game that follow five different characters: Gwendolyn, Cornelius, Mercedes, Oswald, and Velvet. Each person has their own purpose ranging from saving their loved one, to reclaiming their birthright, but with each story the bigger picture of Odin Sphere‘s plot becomes clearer.
While all of these individuals have their own separate tales, as they traverse the neighboring lands of Ragnanival, Ringford, Volkenon, and more, each character’s story overlaps with another book. It makes for incredibly strong development for each protagonist, so by the time you reach the last tale, every person in Odin Sphere feels well rounded and not an afterthought as some RPGs tend to do with ensembles.
The story however, is not what receives (or needs) the special HD treatment. Graphically, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir looks jaw-droppingly fantastic with redrawn graphics pushed up to 1080p/60fps. The games’ color palette shines even more with beautiful scenery from the back alleys of Titania, to the ethereal Netherworld. Unfortunately, the frames suffer intermediate drops in particularly projectile-filled action sequences. While it is rare, it is disappointing that it’s still an issue in the remaster.
The game play revolves around multiple hubs that have a series of interconnected levels. It’s very reminiscent of the old-school dungeon crawlers of yore, but have been tweaked to reduce the amount of grind it can feel like. More mid-level bosses have been added to each area, so it feels like you genuinely progress your characters’ experience, rather than just killing aimlessly for rank ups. There is also the added facet of growing or cooking special foods that can increase experience, which is a nice break from the combat XP grind.
Luckily, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir put a huge makeover on its combat system that has thankfully made the game play much tighter and responsive. Each character has their own move set with their unique Psypher-powered weapon, as well as unlockable sub-skills and perks. The combat has been refined so much that even with using the bare minimum amount of moves, a player can easily run on 50+ combo streaks. The fighting game play is so addicting however, you’ll easily be finding the best move strings to make that streak number climb even higher.
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir truly feels like what a high definition remaster should be. It takes every opportunity to fix what was lacking in its debut, but doesn’t attempt to tamper with its strong story or characters. While there are still minor issues with frame drops, none of it is enough to mar this otherwise fantastic, revamped experience. Leifthrasir is certainly worth another look for fans of the original. For those who have never played it: take the leap and dive into this wonderful story.
Final Score: 4/5
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir will be available on June 7 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita at $59.99/$49.99/$39.99 USD respectively.
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