More often than not, review copies either collect in a pile by the door for trade-in or they’re used as prizes at PAX. I’m aware that this is sort of rude, but we have our own opinions on which games warrant advocacy. As yesterday’s news was a thin, absolutely homogenous gruel, we turned to a reviewable copy of Odin Sphere received earlier in the week. It was poking out from beneath a chair leg and it took some time to find.
Hours later, we realized that a comic had not been written.
The game has interesting systems in place - I would describe it as clever, with its five interlocking stories, elaborate food options, and the Action RPG sugar-rush that binds men’s souls. But against this game’s art, no other feature breaks the surface. Like a soaring hawk, I often hear the cries below - the deep lament of those who crave the certainty and power of the second dimension, the dimension cast aside by budgetary realities and market demands. Odin Sphere’s luscious animation must been seen to be appreciated, which is why I linked to a trailer page above - but even that is insufficient. We’d certainly seen screens and trailers before, but we’d never seen them writ large - seen the incidental animations that add so much life and spirit. Gigantic player sprites do battle with boss enemies that dwarf even them - sometimes literally dwarf them, because this game has dwarfs in it.
Being 2D, each skirmish area takes place on a circular track similar to Defender. You can go all the way around it either way, and when you’ve defeated all of a zone’s enemies (and been rewarded based on your performance) you can leave that circular area for another one, travelling through an entire map made of these nodes. When you run before multiple layers of painted, parallax countryside… I mean, when was the last time we got to say parallax? I would say that we had travelled back in time, but games of this type were never as beautiful. It’s really more like we have travelled sideways, into another timeline where the sprite is still king.
Because this is a DVD-R in a small plastic case, I don’t know who handled the translation - if Atlus brought it over complete or if they managed it internally. It’s so good that I’m leaning toward the latter. Seriously, I dug the sender’s contact information out of the trash so I could call and thank him. That might be rude, too, I suppose - hopefully I can be forgiven. I wasn’t aware they were making games like this anymore.