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Thursday, July 3, 2008

First Impressions: Lost Odyssey

I'm going to keep this short today even though I haven't posted for a couple days. I've just returned from celebrating Canada Day and I had a good time away from my laptop. I spent the bulk of my time off playing with the kids and hanging out with my wife. But as luck would have it, I managed to play a little poker, have a few drinks, and play a bit of Lost Odyssey.

Was the anticipation I felt to play Lost Odyssey justified?

In short - yes. But I'll be the first to admit that the game is unfolding a little differently than I'd first anticipated.

First, let's get my impressions of graphics and sound out of the way. Does Lost Odyssey look good? It does - though nowhere quite as good as the stylized Eternal Sonata and Blue Dragon. The "realistic" look that Mistwalker Studios attempted to achieve with Lost Odyssey falls a little flat. The cut-scene graphics are impressive though that's to be expected from any J-RPG worth a damn. In-game graphics are quite good although characters' movements and hair look a little off at times. Lost Odyssey is a good looking game; however, Mass Effect does the realism thing much, much better.

Sound effects and music in Lost Odyssey are very good. Voice acting is slightly above average. I have to admit that the character of Jansen (seen to the right) is especially well done: the voice acting is great (for a J-RPG) and his scripted lines are quite funny at times.

Gameplay in Lost Odyssey is typical J-RPG fare. The addition of the ring targeting system is a nice little innovation that helps keep users on their toes while battling enemies. Whenever an on-screen character performs a physical attack, a timing mini-game requires users to hold and release the RT BUTTON according to an on-screen indicator. I'll discuss the ring targeting system in more detail at a later date; for now, suffice it to say that it's a nice little diversion that helps spice up an otherwise average RPG combat system.

The biggest surprise in Lost Odyssey thus far are the dream sequences. Dreams are experienced in the form of on-screen text coupled with hazy background images and orchestral music. It sounds cheesy - but it really works well. I've experienced about eight dreams so far and I've found each of them to be quite touching and memorable.

The focus of Kaim's (Lost Odyssey's long-haired and half-clothed protagonist) dreams are his experiences as an immortal and his dealings with his comparatively short-lived friends, acquaintances, and loved ones from ages past. I'm really surprised at how well Lost Odyssey's writers were able to present these dreams. These dream sequences could have dragged the game down if written poorly. I'm happy to say that this isn't the case at all. I actually look forward to unlocking more of Kaim's past to learn more about the game's mysterious protagonist.

Over the coming weeks, I'll make a few more posts regarding Lost Odyssey's cast of characters, story, gameplay mechanics, and other interesting little bits of information that I can find.

For better or worse, my time with Lost Odyssey has only just begun. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the game unfolds and meeting more of the game's varied characters, creatures, and arch-enemies.