Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir Review (PS4)

Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is a remake of the classic Vanillaware PS2 game and like the developer themselves, Odin Sphere has come a long way since then.
Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir follows several characters in the form of a young girl reading their stories in fairytale books, and the first of which is valkyrie Gwendolyn. Each story interweaves with both similar and brand new events, with each character’s story adding more to the overall story. Gwendolyn watches her sister, Griselda, fall in battle where she inherits her sister’s legendary weapon – the spear Psypher. Gwendolyn is then tasked with following her father’s, Odin, orders where she eventually comes to fall in love with the enemy Oswald. She then has to choose whether or not to keep following her father’s orders or to do what she truly wishes to do. The story has a strong fairytale theme to it which interested me greatly, and it kept me coming back to the 30~ hour journey.
Odin Sphere is a hack and slash title where your reflexes and item management will be tested, and where you’ll find yourself pitted against hordes of enemies all aiming to take you down. Each character plays differently and have unique abilities such as Gwendolyn’s ability to quickly glide, and there’s plenty of complexity when it comes to combos. Each player attacks with differing speeds and have different ranges, base stats, etc, so you’ll find the person you’re most comfortable with, but you’re going to have to learn all of the characters if you wish to complete the game. Special abilities can be marked to circle and a directional button, whilst square will be your main attack, again, with directional input. You can also guard, of course.
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The combat is hugely engrossing and addictive, but combat doesn’t make up all of the gameplay as you’ll be spending a bit of time synthesising items to use in battle too. These range from offensive to defensive items as well as healing items, and you’re going to want to stock up, particularly on health items, otherwise you’re going to find the game to be a difficult struggle. It’s easy enough to do but you can only carry a finite amount of items so the real challenge comes from prioritising, but I personally prioritised health items. You can find items in battle too in chests or enemies drop them, so you don’t need to worry too much! There’s a bit of freedom in how you approach battle as you can take multiple routes, and certain routes lead to extra items and more battles, but overall you’ll find your way to the end of the stage.
It’s undeniable that Odin Sphere is a gorgeous game and that Vanillaware are capable of creating some of the most beautiful visuals in gaming, and it’s great to see them garnering a wider appeal with its remake. If you’ve played other games from them them such as Dragon’s Crown then you’ll be familiar with what to expect, although I think Odin Sphere may be the most gorgeous of their works – I really dig the fairytale theme! Character and enemy design boasts detail and, like with some of Vanillaware’s other games, some characters have certain features accentuated such as muscles or breasts to help better represent that characters personality – I’m quite fond of how Vanillaware handle this in a way that doesn’t have my eyes rolling. The environments are utterly eye-catching with their use of a wide range of colours, stellar lighting and effects that really help to bring each area to life – there are lush forests, snowy mountains, the dark underworld and the scorching lava pits, and the variation in areas and their attention to detail keep them a joy to come back to.
It seems like many of the original English voice cast returned with the likes of Karen Strassman, Michelle Ruff and Yuri Lowenthal lending their voices to this fantastic dub. You’ll recognise the voice talent from many Atlus and NIS America games, so the casting shouldn’t come as a surprise and I’ll never tire of hearing these voices. The soundtrack is befitting to the games fairytale themes so expect a lot of orchestral, piano-laden music rather than riffing guitars, and allow the music to help create a great atmosphere.
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Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is not only a game where I had to constantly double check had I spelt the sub-title correctly, but it’s also a really damn good game. The combat is deep, rewarding and addictive, the story and characters quickly grow on you and encourage you to continue to learn more, and it’ll keep you busy for a long time. If you’re looking for a time sink you won’t begrudge putting time in to, absolutely gorgeous visuals and outstanding detail across all aspects, then Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir will not disappoint. If you don’t enjoy Vanillaware’s other games then this will unlikely change your mind, but those who are a fan or haven’t played one of their games before then well, you’re in for a treat.

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