Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Ragnarok Odyssey
 BLOG ABOUT THIS

Review: Ragnarok Odyssey

5:00 PM on 10.30.2012 // Jim Sterling
  @JimSterling

Ragnificent

The biggest problem with the PlayStation Vita is that many titles don't quite "get" it. Either they go in deep with all manner of touchscreen hybridization at the cost of player comfort, or they concentrate so hard on providing a full console experience they forget people don't always have over an hour to spare when playing on the road. 

Ragnarok Odyssey is such a success because it gets the PlayStation Vita. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that it's damn near perfect as an example of exactly how Vita games should be. This, right here, is a masterclass in handheld software design.

Ragnarok Odyssey (PlayStation Vita)
Developer: GungHo Online Entertainment
Publisher: XSeed Games
Release: October 30, 2012
MSRP: $39.99

Ragnarok Odyssey is a spin-off of the popular Ragnarok Online MMO, a brand I must confess a lack of familiarity with. Prior experience doesn't really matter, however, as the game is light on lore, heavy on action, and is likely going to resonate more with players of Capcom's Monster Hunter installments. While there is a light story, told mostly through optional NPC dialog, Odyssey has its sights trained primarily on tossing players straight into the action. 

The adventure begins with a surprisingly deep character customization mode. While heroes are built using presets, there are a ton of options, including 18 faces, 19 hairstyles and even 16 voices per gender. Hair can be tweaked using a full spectrum of colors, while each outfit (initially bound by class but later entirely swappable) has four dye schemes to choose. 

Progression through the game's multiple missions and chapters are fairly linear and straightforward. You pick a mission from the guild hall mission counter, head out to perform the task (usually killing certain monsters or collecting a number of items), then return with the spoils to pick another. That's more or less it. Missions are timed up to thirty minutes, though most of them can be completed well within that restriction, and so progress feels more like a lengthy procession of snack-sized challenges rather than a full, unified experience.

Players can choose one of six classes, each with its own set of skills and weaknesses. The Sword Warrior is a balanced class focused on both attack and defense, while the Assassin makes up for its physical weakness with speed. More specialized classes include the Cleric, a defensive tank that can self-heal, and the Hammersmith, a sluggish fighter that specializes in all-out attack. There is also the Mage for area-of-effect spells and the Hunter for long-range damage. You can change your class at any time between missions, which is a good thing, because it can take a lot of experimentation to find the job that finally "clicks" with your playstyle. 

Like Monster Hunter, players regularly head out into a territory made of multiple smaller maps and littered with monsters that drop valuable crafting material. Each class has a range of attacks and combo moves to pull off, though they control more or less the same. Regular melee attacks are performed by pressing the triangle button, while advanced skills are utilized by pressing circle at various stages of the melee sequence. Most classes can also guard with triangle and RB, as well as dash with the square button -- crucial for closing distances and avoiding enemy strikes. 

Combat is a satisfying barrel of brawler-style button mashing, and Odyssey isn't afraid to ramp up the challenge when it sees fit, assaulting the player with multiple aggressive foes or huge boss creatures that can take quite a pounding before falling. The difficulty spikes can be quite a shock to the system, especially as missions go from too easy to surprisingly ravaging at the drop of a hat. It's usually not too much of a problem, save for the fact that Odyssey often relies on the old cheap method of providing enemies unbreakable combos that are capable of stopping your own attacks far too easily. Most opposition can be skillfully overcome with smart use of dashing and guarding -- but be warned that often it feels impossible not to take damage, and some of the grouped opposition feels straight-up bullying as foes take turns to smack you down, render your character dizzy, or toss you halfway across a room.

Annoyances aside, battles are pleasantly fast-paced, with a recurring theme of juggling beasts into the air and smacking them back down after some aerial combos. Attacks, dashing, and sprinting are all governed with an AP meter, which requires constant monitoring, but refills quickly, providing just the right balance between challenging users, and keeping them capable. 

There's no leveling system, as per traditional role-playing games, and the only stat upgrades provided by gear are an attack bonus on weapons, as well as an inconsequential boost to all stats after clearing each chapter. Instead, characters improve by equipping cards collected at random from defeated monsters. Each player's outfit has space for up to eight cards, and clothing can be expanded to hold more expensive ones (each card has its own equip cost). These cards grant anything from attack and defense bonuses to elemental effects, extra healing properties, and bonuses to class-specific skills. Mixing and matching a winning combination of cards is a key component of the game, and it can take quite a bit of fiddling to find the build that works. 

In addition to cards, materials gathered in missions are used to refine weapons to enhance their damage output, expand outfits, and purchase aesthetic headgear for simple self-amusement. The headwear is a joy in itself, as players gradually unlock a range of accessories from simple helmets to paper bags, ghost sheets, and devil horns. Odyssey really doesn't take itself seriously -- there's plenty of scope to make a character that looks ridiculous. 

All told, the lack of leveling is a bold and interesting move, while the cards can often be far more compelling than simply gaining experience to hit the next upgrade. However, one detrimental effect is that it will often feel like there's a glass ceiling in place, preventing you from ever acquiring a rewarding advantage over the enemies. This has come to a head with my Cleric, which simply isn't dealing enough damage to take down a boss within the thirty-minute time limit. With nobody online currently available at my level to come and help, I feel like I'm stuck waiting until I can recruit, lest I retune my playstyle with an all-new class. 

Upgrading equipment can also feel like a lot of waiting is required, due in no small part to the fact that some crafting materials may only be farmed by beating certain bosses over and over. The game really isn't good at telling you where items can be found, leading to either a good deal of guesswork or no small amount of Googling. Even worse, some of these drops can even be random, meaning that replaying a boss won't guarantee you'll get what you came for. Eventually, as with cards, you'll feel like you've hit a ceiling, unable to improve until you clear another chapter, and even then, unsure if you actually do need to fight an undiscovered monster or beat one from any number of previous missions. 

These complaints aside, Ragnarok Odyssey is still a ton of fun. Some may find the mission structure repetitive, but it's perfectly suited to the kind of portable experience that works best. It's designed to waste an hour of one's time on the player's whim, and in that regard it succeeds. What's more, with a ridiculous amount of content on offer (it easily rivals many console RPGs in terms of sheer volume), you'll be hard pressed to find a better standby title for those moments where you need a quick gaming fix without any fluff getting in the way. 

Players can cooperate locally or online via the tavern, which works exactly like the guild hall except missions are tougher. Up to four players can team up using a fairly robust and customizable matchmaking system. Each match room will have one player as leader, responsible for selecting missions, though missions are restricted by the unlock progress of the partner who's played the least (e.g., if someone on your team hasn't beaten the first chapter, you won't be able to play beyond that). Solo fighters looking for a bigger challenge can also enter the tavern unaided to play through missions on a tougher setting. 

The online experience is decent for the most part, though it can occasionally suffer from temporary freezing that locks the action up for a few seconds at a time. When it's not doing that, it's responsive and fast, but it can happen at a rather irritating rate. It's a shame, because playing cooperatively really demonstrates how well the classes work together. There is also a fantastically deep range of communication options, with a full in-game chat system and characters able to pull of a large amount of amusing emotes. 

The controls are where Ragnarok Odyssey really shines, and it's here where I justify my prior claim that this game "gets" the PlayStation Vita. Almost all of the controls are performed using the physical buttons. Movement, attacks, cameras -- it's all done using the hardware. The only use of the touchscreen comes with potions (drink to heal or provide temporary boosts) and player interactions, all pulled off using virtual icons placed at the edge of the right-hand side of the screen, doing little more than expanding the control options in an intuitive, convenient way.

Other games such as Unit 13 have done this too, but Ragnarok Odyssey really limits its input options to ways that make the game more efficient, rather than more showy. It isn't interested in forcing players to swipe across the screen in ways that keep their hands off the real controls. It only cares about exploiting what the Vita can do to make the user's time better. By putting potions and chat options on the touchscreen, it eliminates fiddling with menus and provides easy access to in-game features that are usually a hassle to navigate even through traditional input. I cannot praise this decision enough. 

Visually, this might be the best-looking Vita title to date. Avoiding the washed-out color scheme that seems to have affected many early titles, the bold and colorful art style is helped along by a range of flashy visual effects and fantastic animations that make for a vibrant and appealing game world. Environments are a little basic and flat, but the cartoon-style atmosphere helps them get away with it. What's more, the loading times are absolutely phenomenal. I don't think I've played a full-size Vita game that has been able to load so fast -- remarkable when one considers just how good it looks. I'm not sure what was done to get those load times so trim, but it's highly appreciated. 

Ragnarok Odyssey is brave in its attempt to provide something different in a traditional package. It's cute, its combat is engaging, and its challenge isn't to be sniffed at. It can become frustrating at times, especially when trying to upgrade and improve one's character, and it can certainly grow repetitive. However, I have to say that this is absolutely the best PlayStation Vita game I have played, and I've played most of them.

For all its missteps as an action-RPG, it is simply flawless as an example of how to make a Vita experience work. Judicious use of touchscreen controls, beautiful visuals, a smartly broken-up mission structure and eerily swift loading times make this the gold standard for Sony's portable.

If handheld developers don't take any cues from this one, they're absolutely doing it wrong.



THE VERDICT

9

Ragnarok Odyssey - Reviewed by Jim Sterling
Entrancing - It's like magic, guys. Time disappears when this game and I are together, and I never want it to end. I'm not sure if this is a love that will last forever, but if it is, you'll get no complaints from me.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory





 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Ragnarok Odyssey


  May 23

Ragnarok Odyssey Ace journeys to PS3, Vita this winter

GungHo to publish in Europe, XSEED in North America


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Music Notes: "Tied Down" by Forever Still

Desert Golfing - The Model Mobile Game

Review: Pony Island

The meaning of The Witness (Part 1 of 3)

Do you even Bebop?

Cblogs of 02/04/16 + Bayonetta and some other one I suppose

Waifu Wars: Your Cruel Device, Your Blood Like Ice..

Best Kickstarter implosion EVER as dev money is spent on booze and strippers

Video Gaming Bits -- Dungeons& Dragons: Tower of Doom

Is Planet Earth more than Blue, such as An?

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Titannel avatarTitannel
In between work and, uh, work, I've been buying PS Vita games. Not playing them. Buying them. There are a whole lotta obscure games on the Vita. And a lot of them involve either dating anime boys or underage girls doing decidedly non-underage-girl things.
Browarr avatarBrowarr
JET SET RADIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
TheKodu avatarTheKodu
Still better than Aliens Colonial Marines.
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
The good news: XCOM 2 is installed on my pc. The bad news: It runs about as well as a fat kid on ice.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Get your Devil's Third, here! Hot, fresh Devil's third! [url]http://www.gamestop.com/wii-u/games/devils-third/118963[/url]
EAPidgeon avatarEAPidgeon
Glad I can support the site again with HUGE since my life is mostly back in order. Curious though if anyone knows what happened to the Merch Shop for the site.
TheBlondeBass avatarTheBlondeBass
Give me an open-world game and I'll find a way to mistreat children and the elderly.
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
What do you think guys? Text or no text?
Agent9 avatarAgent9
I'm dying of laughter, these are too good XD super Zangeif OP
Parismio avatarParismio
How dare they price her so low...
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Fire Emblem Fates special edition is confirmed to have all three versions on one cartridge, so you DO get Revelation early.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Frinkiac.com: Search Simpsons quotes, get the image from the episode where the quote is from and easily make a meme.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I ended up buying Yakuza 3 on Amazon and nabbing Gravity Rush Remastered on the PS Store. Both have trophies so I'm pretty hyped to play em.
Virtua Kazama avatarVirtua Kazama
Just finished a blog just in time for the 25th Anniversary of Street Fighter II, which is in a few minutes...
Parismio avatarParismio
Jesus Pacland in smash looks like something someone made in MSPaint. I love it.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Looks like Nintendo was selling a North America exclusive 3DS cover plate. At least, I've never seen this particular one before. It's out of stock now, though.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
So Helldivers is pretty fucking great.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Since I thanked Niero and Paladin on the site update article, might as we thank the rest of you staff, contributors, mods, volunteers, tippers, former workers, commenters, bloggers, quickshitposters, lurkers, trol-nevermind them, anyway XCOM2 calls!
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
I've got an even better picture! I'll post it in the comments.
Steel Squirrel avatarSteel Squirrel
I just have to post this pic because it's one of the best things ever. Gotta post it in the comments though.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -