The seventh era of consoles was an… fascinating time for the Japanese recreation trade. The ballooning prices of high-definition recreation improvement and the rising reputation of cellular gadgets meant that the form of big-budget experiences console gamers craved had been few and much between. As expertise and design tendencies shifted in favor of extra Western sensibilities, so did standard notion. Anybody energetic on the Web throughout this time would doubtless hear Phil Fish’s quote “Japanese video games suck” taken as gospel moderately than because the short-sighted and disrespectful assertion it was. It was, briefly, not a good time to be a JRPG fan.
Enter Mistwalker Studios, an organization shaped by legendary Last Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi following his departure from Sq. Enix. Misplaced Odyssey, the second recreation put out by the studio and developed by Feelplus, is a recreation I’ve meant to play for a very long time. I missed it when it first got here out, as a Nintendo and Sony child in the course of the late aughts, however whereas Misplaced Odyssey hadn’t been a gross sales juggernaut, those that had performed it swore by it, with many calling it “the true Last Fantasy XIII” (a recreation I occur to love, however that’s an entire different dialog. Take heed to the podcast about it!). Fifteen years after its preliminary launch, I lastly performed it, and I’m extraordinarily glad I did. I’ll put this bluntly: in the event you’re the type of gamer who desires Last Fantasy to return to its turn-based roots, you owe it to your self to play Misplaced Odyssey. Like a band getting again collectively to play their best hits, Misplaced Odyssey is a recreation usual by absolute masters of their craft, and it’s unimaginable.
The world of Misplaced Odyssey happens after a Magic-Industrial Revolution, following the invention of latent magical vitality that permeates the world. This discovery has quickly modified how society capabilities in a brief interval, inflicting important shifts in trade, commerce, and battle. Amidst this chaotic backdrop, two armies conflict on the Wohl Highlands, with neither facet giving an inch of floor. Amidst the turmoil is a lone warrior: our protagonist, Kaim Argonar, carving a path via those that stand in his means with minimal effort. However one thing goes horribly flawed, and a cataclysmic meteor bathe engulfs the battlefield, killing everybody apart from Kaim, who survives miraculously unscathed. Because it seems, Kaim is an immortal who has been round for a thousand years and has participated in numerous wars, but has no recollection of his previous. Accompanied by fellow immortal Seth Balmore and the lecherous mage Jansen Friedh, Kaim units out to research the supply of the meteor bathe, step by step recruiting new allies whereas discovering who he’s and unveiling the true objective of the immortals alongside the best way.
Misplaced Odyssey’s opening scenes instantly set a hanging tone. Kaim’s life has been somber and solitary, persisting via the ages because the ephemeral lives round him wither and die. Regardless of this, the story is extra in regards to the tenacity of mortal life and the way bizarre individuals use finite time to burn all of the brighter than it’s in regards to the disappointment of 1 man. That is captured superbly within the Thousand Years of Desires, a group of quick tales penned by well-known Japanese novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu and translated into English by Harvard tutorial Jay Rubin for the sport. Because the story progresses, you’ll unlock Kaim’s misplaced recollections, offered to the participant as a written quick story. Using textual content to convey Kaim’s previous is one in all Misplaced Odyssey’s claims to fame, and it’s a novel stylistic alternative that does effectively to set the sport aside from its contemporaries. These tales are poignant, tragic, and above all, hopeful, concerning the character of mortality and what individuals will do within the face of it, be it for their very own sake or the sake of their family members.
Gameplay-wise, Misplaced Odyssey is as conventional an RPG as they arrive. The sport options an overworld map consisting of a menu of areas to go to: these areas may be something from a sprawling city filled with NPCs and objects to discipline areas or one of many recreation’s expansive and labyrinthine dungeons. I drastically admire Misplaced Odyssey’s emphasis on mild puzzle-solving and environmental consciousness as you navigate these treacherous biomes. If I’ve one niggling criticism, the participant’s default run velocity quantities to little greater than a lightweight jog. There’s a dash button, which generally makes it troublesome to line up your character good to work together with the atmosphere. Nonetheless, this can be a minor subject within the grand scheme of issues. Later within the recreation, when you get entry to a ship, you possibly can sail throughout the overworld freely to succeed in beforehand inaccessible areas.
Random encounters are the secret in Misplaced Odyssey: whereas navigating discipline areas or dungeons, fights will pull you in. The encounter price is cheap within the grand scheme of issues, and I hardly ever felt like I couldn’t take a step earlier than being launched into one other battle. Fight is, naturally, a turn-based affair, along with your social gathering of as much as 5 characters dealing with off towards a gaggle of enemies and taking turns whacking them with swords, staves, and different accouterments. Flip order is dealt with equally to the older Last Fantasy titles, the place it’s primarily based on the velocity of every character or enemy, though there are abilities and different components that may have an effect on the flip order.
One innovation Misplaced Odyssey brings is the Intention Ring System. At any time when a personality performs a regular assault, you see an animation of them working towards their goal and a concentrating on ring will seem. Urgent the button in time with the ring will trigger their assault to do extra harm to the goal. Getting the timing excellent will set off extra results, together with dealing extra harm to sure enemy sorts, including an elemental buff to the assault, rising the possibility of a vital hit, and rather more, relying on the ring outfitted. Should you miss the goal, don’t fear: you continue to do harm. You simply gained’t get the bonus results of your outfitted ring. New rings may be crafted from the primary menu at any time utilizing supplies dropped by enemies, and also you’ll acquire entry to extra highly effective variants as you progress via the sport. You may change your gear at any time in the course of fight, too, which makes sizing up enemies and determining their weaknesses essential to your technique.
A small however related a part of Misplaced Odyssey’s battle system is GC or Guard Situation. Your social gathering is cut up right into a back and front row, with these within the entrance serving as a protecting barrier for these within the again, which is typical for traditional RPGs. Nonetheless, Misplaced Odyssey innovates by including a GC meter that goes down with inflicted harm, requiring you to put on down the enemies within the entrance earlier than you possibly can fear in regards to the ones behind them. This provides an fascinating wrinkle to battles, though managing your GC is never as a lot of a difficulty as the sport makes it out to be. By the point your mages begin to really feel susceptible, the combat will already be over, and whereas some boss fights can do a quantity in your GC, a persistent offense will normally win out.
I additionally benefit from the recreation’s ability system. Your immortal characters don’t be taught new talents by leveling up. As a substitute, they acquire them by equipping equipment or linking up with one in all your mortal social gathering members, who earn new abilities by leveling up. Along with being a wonderful encapsulation of the sport’s themes, this additionally implies that if one in all your mortal allies has a invaluable ability, you possibly can ultimately equip it in your immortals, supplying you with flexibility in constructing your social gathering. Rising victorious from battle will earn you AP that can ultimately will let you completely equip no matter abilities beforehand tied to your gear or social gathering member. Nonetheless, every immortal solely has a finite variety of ability slots to equip new abilities, so select fastidiously. Uncommon “Slot Seed” objects gives you extra ability slots and a few equipment increase the variety of ability slots a personality has, so these are value looking for out. You’re effectively rewarded for exploring off the crushed path, as Misplaced Odyssey comes packed to the gills with facet content material.
Visually, Misplaced Odyssey is an absolute deal with, and it holds up remarkably effectively regardless of being a fifteen-year-old recreation. The sport runs on the Unreal engine 3, a cutting-edge (for the time) graphics engine that makes the environments pop, particularly regarding the recreation’s lighting, which is superb. Character fashions are expressive and vigorous, even when they generally endure from a little bit of the ol’ craggy face syndrome. Reportedly, the staff had points adjusting to the engine, so Misplaced Odyssey was considerably notorious on Xbox 360 for having lengthy load instances and a good quantity of lag. Nonetheless, on the Xbox One or the Xbox Sequence X/S: load instances are snappy, and I barely encountered a touch of slowdown throughout my 60-hour playthrough.
The place the sport shines brightest is in its artwork route. Expertise from throughout industries got here collectively to make Misplaced Odyssey a real standout. Takehiko Inoue’s distinctive artwork model makes these outlandish character designs really feel grounded and earthly. Takamasa Ohsawa and Hideo Minaba additionally contribute to bringing Misplaced Odyssey’s fantastical world to life, as does Christian Lorenz Scheurer, who contributed to Last Fantasy IX and the movie The Fifth Factor. I do want feminine forged members’ clothes designs had been much less revealing. Nonetheless, the fanservice is equal alternative: Kaim’s armor is actually extra revealing than the common closely armored male hero usually can be. The cinematic route can be one thing to behold, with Roy Sato serving as visible director after working with Sakaguchi on The Spirits Inside. The combination of pre-rendered and in-engine scenes generally clashes with the standard of the 2 being considerably inconsistent, however general, Misplaced Odyssey seems dang good.
And the music! Oh, the music, how my coronary heart sings. That includes the skills of Nobuo Uematsu, the legendary composer behind the Last Fantasies of yore, together with preparations by Satoshi Henmi and Hiroyuki Nakayama, Misplaced Odyssey’s soundtrack consists of sturdy central motifs that use stirring piano and hovering strings to evoke emotion within the participant. Unsurprising for Uematsu, these tracks additionally aren’t afraid to get playful or to chop unfastened and rock out when the necessity arises. I usually left the sport open on the overworld map to hearken to “Neverending Journey.” I’m particularly keen on the sport’s closing boss theme, “Howl of the Departed.”
I can’t advocate Misplaced Odyssey sufficient. Whereas the sport has languished in relative obscurity because of its unlucky console exclusivity, I feel that it deserves a second probability in an age the place extra individuals than ever are craving traditionally-minded RPGs. It’s now not 2008, and the Phil Fishes of the world have moved on: we now get pleasure from a gaming panorama the place initiatives on Kickstarter, akin to Eiyuden Chronicle or Sea of Stars, could make a killing by promising exactly the type of expertise that Misplaced Odyssey delivered, making Misplaced Odyssey an orphan stranded between two completely different RPG golden ages. Perhaps sooner or later, we’ll luck out, and Microsoft will see match to launch the sport on PC for a broader viewers to get pleasure from, however till then, when you’ve got entry to an Xbox console, Misplaced Odyssey is a journey value endeavor.