Release Date: February 20 (Europe), October 30, 2012 (North America)
Platforms available on: Vita
Developer: Game Arts
Publisher: GungHo Online Entertainment / XSEED Games
The PSP was the handheld platform of choice for RPG fans, and the PlayStation Vita looks set to take the torch from its predecessor.
Korean publisher GungHo Online Entertainment is the latest studio to bring this manner of experience to the new Sony system, delivering an action-based spinoff from its Ragnarok Online MMORPG.
Although born within a slightly different genre, Ragnarok Odyssey doesn't stray far from its source material. The game's setting, style and characters are cut from the same cloth as its PC predecessor, and online with friends is the preferential way to experience it.
Ragnarok Odyssey is every inch an RPG, and a familiar one at that. The action takes place from the third-person perspective and is heavily based around melee combat and looting. Essential ingredients such as character classes, customisation options and online play are all in place, so this should have been a real fan-pleaser; theoretically speaking.
Unfortunately, it's a formulaic affair with a by-numbers feel to it. Developer Game Arts has clung tightly to RPG conventions, without ever innovating or putting its own stamp on an increasingly saturated genre.
That doesn't necessarily make it a terrible game. Technically speaking, the developers have gotten a lot right. Ragnarok Odyssey is a polished affair with tight controls and an intuitive combat system.
It's also a palatable experience - despite stats and upgrades having more than a bit part to play - that will provide players with at a least a few hours of fun.
- Ragnarok Odyssey replaces traditional levelling with a 'cards' system, which allows players to equip a limited number of cards that improve various aspects of their character.
The lack of levelling-up in the traditional sense does not work in the game's favor. All of that mindless hacking and slashing is worth very little considering you don't generate any XP points for it.
Characters grow stronger only after a chapter of quests has been completed, but a convoluted menu system makes upgrading and customisation more confusing that it should be.
Ragnarok Odyssey replaces traditional levelling with a 'cards' system, which allows players to equip a limited number of cards that improve various aspects of their character.
While it's a functional system, the tried and tested mechanics used by other RPGs would have been a more transparent way of doing things.
Online play helps counterbalance some of the monotony, but this mode suffers from its own drawbacks. Players can tackle missions with up to three other people, and choosing your allies wisely is recommended.
Questing with players at a lower level is ill-advised because the party can only access levels the lowest-ranked user has unlocked.
This means there is no incentive to partner up with newbies, so don't expect to encounter the kind of community that will welcome you with open arms. Having to wait for players to fiddle around with weapons and upgrades in the online lobby is another drawback.
With no time limit imposed, you'll often find yourself waiting on one discourteous individual before the session can commence.
Ragnarok Odyssey is at least a visually appealing game. Set against vibrant fantasy backdrops, it's a colourful adventure that puts the Vita's graphical capabilities to good use. The animation is smooth for the most part, though camera issues can crop up during some of the more frantic battles.
Despite its visual splendour, the character models are as generic as the RPG mechanics the game peddles.
The protagonist and supporting cast are your bog-standard anime fodder, and the enemies are the kind of creatures RPG fans will have slain countless times before. They are also reused, throughout the game, albeit with palette swaps.
This lack of variety extends to the storyline, something that is of great importance in RPG adventures. The game has an action-driven feel to it, where plot and characterisation are mere afterthoughts.
- Developer Game Arts has clung tightly to RPG conventions, without ever innovating or putting its own stamp on an increasingly saturated genre.
Ragnarok Odyssey is a polished offering with tight controls and nice graphics, but a little innovation would have gone a long way. In terms of both style and gameplay, this is little more than a generic RPG offering that fails to build on solid foundations.
Copyright: GungHo Online Entertainment