Molotov Cupcake Avatar Posted on 11/8/2012 by Molotov Cupcake
Games
Reviews
Has all the components to craft a unique JRPG challenge, but continually misses the point; still manages to be a serviceable fantasy JRPG that should get most through the Vita's dry spell.

It's a shame there's little reason to push through the not-so-savory parts of the game, as there are some intriguing battles with larger creatures that cull interesting Monster Hunter-esque strategies, gorgeous environments, and a formidable soundtrack to boot. All the components seem to be in place to craft a unique JRPG challenge, but Ragnarok Odyssey simply continually misses the point. The Vita still needs its share of JRPG goodness, but unfortunately this isn't going to cut it. You might want to bide your time for another, more fleshed-out adventure instead.
Release: October 30, 2012
Rating: T
Publisher: XSEED Games
Written by Brittany Vincent (editor-at-large)

The PS Vita seems as though it should be the perfect breeding ground for role-playing games. With the indomitable Persona 4 Golden on the horizon, there's hope for the powerful handheld yet, but there aren't as many fantastic RPG experiences as one might think. Ragnarok Odyssey seemed very much like it could be the renaissance JRPG gamers were looking for - at first glance, anyway. It's not the smorgasbord of familiar addictive action we were waiting for, but it's not that striking, either. Ragnarok Odyssey attempts to cover all those bases, but it's just a serviceable fantasy RPG that should get you through the dry spell if you've got nothing else.

At the very least the game allows for a varied character customization system that was actually more fun than the game's grind. You can choose a gender, face, skin color, and a voice, though there are no options to further flesh out your fight with bodily customization. Once you've put a face to the name of your character it's up to you to choose an appropriate class. There are plenty of different playable classes to choose from, catering to nearly all play styles. As you progress through the game, you'll have the option, of course, to go back on these choices if you so desire, with the addition of the Salon to your repertoire. From there, you can alter your class and appearance, though your gear won't automatically be level-matched.

The armor system is actually fairly varied, allowing you to change several different pieces with specific cards that each hold different augments. You can insert these into pockets in the armor to make it your own, despite the lack of variety in aesthetic options. Some characters will not be able to wear different sets of armor, so they're not shareable across class changes, but you've at least got some way to change up how each character looks.

What's truly bizarre is the manner in which the game plays out. Missions are assigned and accepted in the mail room, where you'll take posted jobs at the quest desk and venture forward to tackle them. The world seems as though it's built for an open world endeavor, but that's not exactly how Ragnarok Odyssey works. Aside from going out and completing quests, you simply don't interact very much with the environment itself. It's quite a departure from the wildly popular Ragnarok Online, and more constrained to the limitations of a "normal" JRPG, which was admittedly a bit disappointing.

Each quest you accept encompasses collecting a lot of the same item, returning with said items for a reward, exterminating groups of enemies, and reaping XP or item rewards. It's all terribly mundane, and as you're herded automatically back to your own main hub after the mission is completed you can't help shake the feeling that you've been doing the same things over and over. Because you have been. It quickly becomes a slog as you run through the same quests again and again, with little incentive for doing them rather than the in-game spoils. It's not very fulfilling once you've done the same things over and over, and that's where Ragnarok Odyssey begins to falter.

There's a break in monotony when it comes to endbosses between quests, but you have to take care to learn specific takedown strategies and keep your item reserves fully stocked before heading into battle. If you're continually felled in combat, there's no way to come back to grind and earn extra experience to quickly catch up if you're underpowered. It's odd design quirks like this that hold Ragnarok odyssey back from greatness and instead give you a frustrating time rather than an entertaining one. Combined with the fact that most slain monsters don't even help your characters grow as fighters, it's hard to find a reason to keep chipping away at a game that just doesn't appreciate all the hard work being put into it.

It's a shame there's little reason to push through the not-so-savory parts of the game, as there are some intriguing battles with larger creatures that cull interesting Monster Hunter-esque strategies, gorgeous environments, and a formidable soundtrack to boot. All the components seem to be in place to craft a unique JRPG challenge, but Ragnarok Odyssey simply continually misses the point. The Vita still needs its share of JRPG goodness, but unfortunately this isn't going to cut it. You might want to bide your time for another, more fleshed-out adventure instead.







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