When Odin Sphere came out for the Playstation 2 two years ago, it was hailed as having some of the most gorgeous visuals seen in a videogame. However, many people disliked the game because of its harsh difficulty or “cheapness.” So, when I picked the game up last month and started playing it, I was prepared for controller smashing frustration and many, many continues.
That never happened for my playthrough.
Was I able to beat enemies without getting hit? No. What made the game immensely easier is a simple alchemy item: Painkillers.
Painkillers reduce all damage you take by 50%, and eliminate knockback effects on you. All those one or two hit kills people complained about in boss fights? Painkillers now give you a three or four hit lifespan. The Painkiller potion is incredibly easy to make, requiring a simple level 2 alchemy material and either a Cubsbane or Carroteer. These items are very easy to obtain, and so I almost always had an ample supply of Painkillers. My brother had complained of dying so easily when he was playing, and I asked him whether he had used them when he played, and he said no. With the painkillers, I encountered no unexpected deaths at the hands of bosses. This humble item makes the game so much more enjoyable, and if you utilize it Odin Sphere becomes much more manageable in terms of difficulty.
The game also received criticism for its POW combat system, in which you have a meter that decreases every time you make a rapid series of attacks, and if the bar reaches zero, you are stunned for a couple of seconds. To recover the POW bar, you must remain on the ground and not attack for a few seconds. Some complained that it ruined the game for them because combat would have to be interrupted to recover.
I think the POW bar is an interesting addition to the otherwise fairly mindless hack and slash genre. You can still perform three or four full combos before your POW runs out, but you cannot simply spam the same combo over and over or you leave yourself vulnerable. You instead need to utilize spells you have (which do not use POW) and strategically retreat a bit to triumph over your foes. I thought it was a nice change of pace.
The game does have some issues, like some annoying enemies (teleporting wizards) and an irritatingly small inventory space. It can get a bit repetitive as well, since you revisit most of the areas with each character. Also, every time you move into the next area, there is a loading screen. I didn't mind it that much, but it bothered some people.
Gameplay aside though, the game has incredible production values, with excellent english voice acting, gorgeous visuals, and a cool ending system. So, even though the hack and slash genre may not be your favorite, I think experiencing the presentation of the game is worth a look by itself. The game is now a greatest hits game, so it should be cheap to buy!
I had a great time with Odin Sphere thanks to some information provided by my brother, which greatly reduced frustration and confusion when I played. You can check out our spoiler free tips below if you wind up picking up the game. I think it would make the experience much more enjoyable if you didn’t have to find things out by trial and error, since it can be a difficult game if you don’t know what you are doing.
While stunned from zero POW you are still able to use spells, so you are not completely defenseless. Also, if you hold R1 and are able to absorb some phozons, you can decrease the stun time by a second or two.
To level up your hit points, you can eat fruits and other foodstuffs you find to earn experience. However, after you get to around level 20 it becomes ineffective to simply eat fruit. This is where the recipe system comes in. If you bring certain items to a café or restaurant, and you have the corresponding recipe, when you eat the cooked item you get much more experience then if you ate the ingredients separately. I’d recommend fully exploring every map so you do not miss out on good recipes.
When fiddling with material to use for alchemy, there are three kinds of items you can use to increase the ranking of the material:
1) Fruit: Fruit will increase the material number by 5. You can use partially eaten fruit, and you'll still get the full 5 increase, so take a bite of that napple to gain a bit of exp!
2) Bones: Increase the material number by 3
3) Everything else: Non-mandragora items increase material numbers by 1.
The toxin alchemy potion is quite useful on mini-bosses. It poisons them, and poison lasts a LONG time in this game, which I learned the hard way when I was out of antidote potions. Toxin is ineffective against main bosses however.
Avoid spending Ariel coins and Valentinian gold if you can when purchasing merchant items, and never spend Commemorative coins. These are the only coins accepted for payment in the restaurant and café, and so you need to save them for making your recipes.
Painkillers. Make them.
If there are lots of phozons floating around at the end of an area, and you have a full or near full psypher gauge bar, use the Phozon Release spell to net a couple of extra phozons. Since you refill the psypher gauge when you absorb phozons, the energy you spent on casting phozon release will be recovered by the large amount of phozons you will absorb.
Do not run into your own cyclone spell. It will hurt you and at lower levels is a one hit kill.
Slimes are immune to normal attacks. Mercedes’ and Velvets’ charge attacks will kill slimes, and I think Oswald in shadow form does too. If you are Cornelius, and you do not have enough magic or attack potions to kill them, if you use a piercing attack on a slime several times, they will drop a toxin potion that you can use to kill them.
Teleporting wizards will teleport away after one hit, unless you stun them by deflecting their own projectile swords at them. If you are near two or three of them at once, I’d recommend using the Phozon Burst spell to kill them all in one shot, saving you the trouble of stunning them.
What did you guys think of Odin Sphere? Frustrating or Fun? read