Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360) review
"Kaim's journey might be accompanied by a story that's wildly different from the crowd, but its gameplay isn't far removed from that of other JRPGs. Battles are randomly encountered, turn-based affairs, but more strategic than you might expect. Both you and your enemies have front row and back row formations where characters in the front shield the rear characters from damage."
When Final Fantasy creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, founded his own studio, people expected great things. Unfortunately, that's not what they got when the team released their mediocre first effort, Blue Dragon. Has the man lost his touch? That doesn't seem to be the case, because his new baby, Lost Odyssey, is one of the finest RPGs in years.
Lost Odyssey follows Kaim Argonar, an immortal who's lived for 1,000 years. Immortality isn't all it's cracked up to be, though, as not only has Kaim lived through the deaths of countless friends and loved ones, but most of his memory has gone missing as well. His goal is to recover these fragments of his past and uncover the secrets behind why his memories disappeared in the first place. That's right -- this isn't a game about saving the world. Your hometown didn't burn down, the world isn't about to end, and pretty much every other RPG cliche sits this one out, as well. What's left is an original, dead-serious story that deals with far heavier issues than most, and there are plenty of evil plots and political machinations to go 'round. Kaim will eventually be aided by a crew of both immortals and normal humans, and they aren't the standard RPG archetypes, either. Everyone has real personality and most of the characters are well-developed over the course of the game. This is a truly refreshing tale, and thanks to some genuinely good writing, you'll stay interested through the game's conclusion.
The more controversial aspect of Lost Odyssey's narrative is the "Thousand Years of Dreams." During your adventure, Kaim will happen upon a character or object that reminds him of an event from his past, and memories will come flooding into his consciousness. The game then allows you to read a lengthy passage that recounts this event. There are no voice-overs or flashy movies -- you simply read the screen while pleasant music plays in the background. Dreams add a remarkable amount of depth to Kaim's character, but since they're low on pizzazz, they run the risk of being too dull for some. These vignettes are remarkably well-written and always amusing, but for everyone who savors these moments, there will be just as many who revile reading a story off of their TV.
Staff review by C J (February 24, 2008)
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