Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: an immortal badass who has mysteriously lost his memory struggles to remember his true mission, hooks up with a mismatched party of adventures, and ends up in a super-powered street fight with the fate of the whole world hanging in the balance. That’s Lost Odyssey in a nutshell. It’s like a collection of role-playing clichés from the last quarter century mashed together in a box with “I can’t believe it’s not Final Fantasy” printed on the side. And it’s okay for what it is. Just don’t expect too much that you haven’t seen before.
The story beings with our forgetful hero, Kaim Argonar, getting hit with a meteor in the middle of pitched battle between two warring city-states. Usually when an astral body lands on your noggin that’s all she wrote, so it kinda tips everyone off that something just ain’t quite right when he walks away unscathed. Upon reporting back his superiors send their newly discovered unbreakable soldier off to investigate the possible source of the incident, and wackiness ensues. There are twists and turns, most of which are pretty predicable, and what passes for political intrigue is fairly trite. The whole thing is handled with a healthy serving of melodrama and the exploration of the nature of immortality is a heavy-handed emotional roller coaster that just becomes tiresome after a while. Thankfully the much needed comic relief of one party member saves the game from being one giant bummer.
If that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, there’s hope yet. The reason to be excited about Lost Odyssey is this: if you’re an old school JRPG fan this is the best we’ve seen so far on the 360, complete with turn-based combat, lots of items and abilities to find and make use of, and steady supply of dungeons to explore. Sadly the variety of encounters in a given area tends to be a little lacking, and again there’s very little you haven’t seen here in terms of types of spells, etc., but basically all of the elements of a classic RPG are present here working as intended.
Weighing in on a whopping four discs, Lost Odyssey is a lot of game, particularly for those inclined to ferret out every last secret. It’s easy to lose fifty hours just playing through the main story, with about half of that again added for optional material. The pacing is a little rocky, with a slow start and a tedious section around the middle where the party gets separated into smaller groups, some of which don’t function all that well. Likewise the difficulty spikes at odd times only to get very easy at the end if you’ve spent any time at all on powering-up your characters. Still there’re a lot of decent role-playing morsels here to enjoy here if you can look past some of the shortcomings.
When you get right down to it, Lost Odyssey plays like a mediocre Final Fantasy game, which isn’t so bad really. Hell, some Final Fantasy games have played like mediocre Final Fantasy games, and if you’re a 360 owner who loves classic RPGs you’re going to want to play it. It looks great, and even if it isn’t the best role-playing game ever it falls well short of the worst. If the RPG scene was as ripe with kickass games as the shooter market is it would be easy to suggest giving Lost Odyssey a pass, but given the dearth of quality role-playing titles it really is a must have for RPG fans. Its flaws are at times almost tangible, but it remains mostly enjoyable despite them and it is a substantial chunk of gaming to sink your teeth into. Don’t expect too much out of it and you won’t be disappointed.