• I bought the original version of Odin Sphere for the PS2 back in 2007, but despite enjoying the little I played of it, I sadly had no time to play the game seriously. The situation wasn’t much different when it released on the PSN as a PS2 Classics title. But here in 2016, Vanillaware has decided to do a complete remastering of the game, chipping away at the bits that were a little obtuse and rounding off the pointy edges that could put your eye out. The result is a a highly polished and more accessible furnishing of a title that had already oozed with quality.

    The original game was a beautiful sprite based 2D action RPG that told a story about several individuals on various sides in a struggle for dominance, culminating in a retelling of elements from Norse Mythology. Combat is very straightforward, with you being able to pull off standard attacks with the Square button, with various directional inputs changing the nature of the attacks. Holding the Square button will let you completely block attacks, and the R1 button performs a dodge roll. Outside of that, you can hit the triangle button to use potions for attacking or healing, or mixing potions with materials to make other potions. Or you can eat food, which boosts your health as well as healing.

    Nearly every area in the game is an arena were you do combat before you are able to move on. The interesting thing though is that the arena wraps around it’s two ends together, almost like it’s a mini 2D spheroid. Lesser games usually go the 3D arena route, and have the problem of you getting stuck on invisible walls, leading to you feeling a little claustrophobic at times. This design totally gets around that and it’s terrific for it. There’s also a great deal of mobility for each character as well. Double jumping, gliding, and dive bomb attacks make getting around easy, and no one character ever feels too cumbersome to use, despite how differently they might play from each other. Mercedes in particular need’s POW to fuel her ranged attacks, so a lot of her gameplay is hit and run tactics. So it’s a good thing for a character like her to get around.

    While all this describes the basic gameplay of the original, the remake expands and reworks it to be a much better experience. The circle button now lets you use new skills you learn over the course of the game once they are set up. The skills themselves can be powered up using the psypher energy that used to be collected for growing seeds, or power you weapon level. There are also some passive skills that are learned by using medals that are earned by meeting level requirements. There’s also only one kind of level now, the character level, which seriously cuts down on the amount of grinding, as you now also gain experience from eating food. In fact, eating food is the primary method of gaining levels, as there is a lot of the stuff to find and purchase. You can now summon a chef that will make entrees from ingredients you have on hand. The HP boosts are now also permanent. The item bags are also found in levels rather than bought, and you can change the way you flip through the menus. The original game also had areas like Winterhorn Ridge which used to drain your HP like a permanent poison effect, which no longer happens. All standard attacks save for Mercedes also no longer use POW either. All of these changes are welcome in my book, but if you are a purist, you can play in Classic Mode. Keep in mind that it uses its own save files separate from Refined Mode.

    All these changes are indeed welcome, but there are still two big issues which haven’t been fixed, and were unavoidable considering the nature of the game’s script. These problems manifest in the form of it’s massive amount of environment and boss fight recycling. There are only a handful of bosses that are exclusive to certain characters, and some of them are just tweaked versions of common enemies. No matter who the playable character is, you will go to the same levels, but in a different order, and they will have a different layout. But these issues ultimately are not problematic enough to deter the experience and the other changes made to Refined Mode make an already great game even greater. The art is even more beautiful, and the voice actors have also return to re-record the dialog as the game’s translation has been slightly tweaked for more cohesion. The music is also amazing, and compliments the wonderful story as well. Even if you have played the original, Leifthrasir is worth picking up once more. The PS4 and PS3 versions have a solid 60 frames, and the PS4 version offers a sublime visual experience. There’s also cross-save functionality, so switching between versions is made easier. If you haven’t played this game yet now is the absolute best time to do so. Believe me, you can’t go wrong. It’s a solid recommend.

    Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir - Review
    A wonderful re-crafted port of the 2007 PS2 classic, which fixes nearly all the little problems the original game did.
    Our Score9.5
    Positives
    • The voice acting is still impeccable, and it's been completely redone, with all of the original cast present.
    • The gameplay changes make the game less tedious and more accessible.
    Negatives
    • The biggest problem from the original carries over to the remaster, a great deal of asset recycling.
    9.5Overall Score
    Reader Rating: (4 Votes)
    3.7

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