With the continued shift to action RPGs, I’m always wanting more turn based RPGs to come out. While I love a good action RPG, there’s something about that classic turn based style that I absolutely adore. With 2023 here and a new year of gaming ahead of us, we’ve entered into what promises to be a massive year for RPG fans. The first of those RPGs to release is One Piece Odyssey, a very Dragon Quest-esque adaptation of the One Piece franchise. But does it hit the high bars set by its inspiration?
One Piece Odyssey opens as Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hat Pirates make their way through a massive storm. Despite their best efforts, they crash on a mysterious island filled with monsters and begin exploring for parts in order to repair their ship. Stranded on the island, they quickly meet an unknown character who curses them and removes their abilities, leaving them weakened and without their powers. So now, it’s time to explore the island, recover their powers and delve into and relive memories of the past.
It’s not the most original set up, especially given the series has a history of damaging and destroying the pirate crew’s ship, but it works well enough in providing a reason for them to stay on the island. That sentiment extends to basically the entire story of the game. Nothing is particularly interesting or well conceived, but nothing is particularly bad either. There are some good moments during the memory sequences, but these are offset by the sometimes boring other moments in the game. The story of Odyssey is a standard middle of the road affair that has become the norm in these One Piece game adaptations.
Something that harms the game’s story, and the overall pace of the game, are some bizarre decisions around how it’s presented. Specifically, how often the game wrests control from you to shove some more story in your face. While that sounds like a harsh assessment, it’s legitimately how I felt incredibly often in the game. I would go through a short story sequence, move 10-20 metres forward and be thrown back into another story sequence. This happened repeatedly throughout the game and had me wishing that the game would just give me control for a consistent period of time. I’m no stranger to sitting in story sequences for 10-20 minutes at a time, but the constant short interstitials felt terrible and actively harmed my enjoyment of the game.
Where the game really excels is in its visual representation of One Piece. Characters looks exactly like their manga counterparts and the new characters and monsters that have been included don’t look out of place in the world. Models are detailed, the art style is clean and there are plenty of interesting things to see.
One frustration I did have was the game’s implementation of costumes. Given how fan-servicey and atrocious some of the later series female costumes have gotten, I decided to throw on the original costume set for my characters. Imagine my surprise when the next story sequence kicked in and none of those costumes were reflected. In fact, as soon as my crew were out of my party and physically in the world the costumes I’d assigned were totally ignored. The only places where costumes were consistently shown were in battle or when I can directly controlling someone. Even then, the in-game character portraits also ignore the costumes. This might sound like a minor issue, but it makes the costumes feel like a terrible money grab rather than a fun extra.
As a turn based RPG, there needs to be a certain amount of pizzaz to the game’s systems for it to be truly unique and interesting. The unique hook in Odyssey comes in the form of ‘areas’ in battle. Rather than all characters and enemies being in exactly the same place, they’re split up randomly across different parts of the battlefield. As long as there is an enemy in a character’s area, they’re stuck there and can’t move to a different area to help a party member. This means that you have to strategically manoeuvre characters between areas to beat wipe enemies out. It adds a twist to battles which makes them more enjoyable. Throw in some fantastic skill animations and battles can be pretty cool.
Overall, One Piece Odyssey feels like a bog standard anime adaptation. There isn’t anything particularly new or engaging here, but it does enough to get the attention and hold it. If you’re a fan of One Piece you’ll likely get plenty our of the game, but otherwise there look to be better RPG options coming in the next few months.
– Great visual representation of the manga
– Interesting battle system
– It’s fun to relive those classic moments (with a twist)
– The writing is average at best