"Orphen, the latest localization by the good folks at Activision, is, in a word, schizophrenic. While Orphen doesn't have government enforment officers speaking Chinese and following it around in black helicopters like my ex co-worker Warren (no male prostitution ring either), the game does think it's a Tomb Raider platformer. It's also a Crash Banidcoot style 3-D platformer with a fixed postion and a full blown Square-like epic with blur effects and turn-based battles that aren't really turn bas..."
Orphen, the latest localization by the good folks at Activision, is, in a word, schizophrenic. While Orphen doesn't have government enforment officers speaking Chinese and following it around in black helicopters like my ex co-worker Warren (no male prostitution ring either), the game does think it's a Tomb Raider platformer. It's also a Crash Banidcoot style 3-D platformer with a fixed postion and a full blown Square-like epic with blur effects and turn-based battles that aren't really turn based (ATB one could say).
Orphen comes from Kodama Shoten, a once promising developer that turned the Record of Lodoss War universe into a superlative, albeit rather traditional, Action-RPG. The cuddle fish jerky munching staff on this one must have forgotten everything they learned with Lodoss War--take a good license and make a solid, competent game out of it--and decided to take an anime license and make a quirky ''groundbreaking'' epic on epic hardware.
Orphen follows the adventures of a sorcerer/jerkoff named Orphen. He's loud and obnoxious and plays the role of unlikely savior (Square influence). The game gets off to a rough start with a badly animated opening sequence which has Orphen and apprentices Cloe and Magnus tagging along in a town only to quickly run into to kids that want to pay Orphen back on a debt which has something to do with escorting a rich guy on some other island. They soon all board a ship that also has a passenger named Siphy, who plans on going to an abandoned Island to pray for the soul of her dead lover Rufus. When a big dragon comes and destroys the ship and Orphen, Magnus, and Siphy end up on the island abandoned, they find themselves in some sort of time hopping epic involving the idea that an egg that controls the space time continum shattered, and its shards scattered about and then, as it turns out, the heroes find themselves in the future. Orphen right off the bat (this is the first 45 minutes of gameplay) robs EGG of the reward for most overblown, overwrought, pretenious, story written by a depressed artist high school freshman for a video game ever.
Gameplay is sort of, well, easy. Levels consist of simply Orphen and crew running and jumping over pits or avoiding swinging axes or turning gears to open chests to recieve healing potions and whatnot. You never really meet enemies until later on, and those enemies are killed rather quickly and are rather mundane. They never seem to fight back at all. The levels are designed for exploration (the TR influence) but are horribly linear and in a fixed camera postion (Bandicoot influence). There is a mouse look that's accessed with the right analog stick but its estienally unneeded.
The game's battle engine is both choatic and subdued at the same time. Battles are played out sort of in real-time, but Orphen is in a fixed position on screen. Enemies follow a pattern, and you press one of three attack buttons-triangle, and square are spells and x is a sword attack. Circle is a block that protects you for a set amount of time. Your healing items are useless in these battles. You simply hold a button to power up and then unload it on enemies then block. Battles are mundane, but enemies and character patterns are big, and bright and flashy with blur effects and seizure-inducing lighting. There are no weapons or armor to equip and battles are not random; they happen at specifc places. You can pick up new spells after certain battles and then equip them before a battle. Your party members also fight but they're controlled by AI meaning you're for the most part on your own.
The story is told using horrid in-game cut scenes with bad voice acting. It's like they managed to dig up the voice cast of Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999 along with a few Iron Chef folks and sat them down with badly translated scripts.
What really hurts Orphen here is that at least these young, nerdy programmers cared about making a decent anime game. Where, say, Bandai would make a strip mohjang game or a rail shooter (much like the travesty that was Cowboy Bebop) at least they kept it in a genre that might have worked. Problem is Orphen doesn't just try to be an adequate RPG that would fill a brief gap in a PS2 lineup that doesn't have Square yet, like it could've been. It just doesn't come off as truly focused. These kids were trying to be needlessly creative. And that's the worst kind.
Orphen is a painful reminder of a game that wasn't mortally wounded off the bat. It could've been good. But poor pacing and schizo gameplay makes it a complicated easy-to-beat mess that features, unfortunately, some of the best PS2 graphics I've seen yet. If you try to dig for something in this, like gameplay, or characters you root for, you might find it. Just don't commit any real money to it.
Community review by pestes (Date unavailable)
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