One Piece Odyssey REVIEW (PS5)
''A Friendship Odyssey''
Published: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Genre: Role Playing
Release Date: Jan 13th, 2023
Platforms: PS4/PS5/Xbox Family/PC
*Review copy provided to me by Bandai Namco*
-Bandai Namco Creator-
*THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*
One Piece Odyssey is an RPG set in the world of One Piece that is developed by ILCA and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. With this title celebrating the franchises 25th year anniversary, ILCA and Bandai aim to make this one of the best One Piece games thus far and learn from their mistakes of World Seeker. But, do they succeed in doing this? Only one way to find out, so onwards to adventure!
Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hat crew are on another epic adventure, but this time one that was totally out of their control. One day while sailing their ship, Sunny, across the sea, they get sucked into a giant portal that sends them to and stands them at the legendary island of Waford. Now trapped and seemingly without their skills and abilities to use, Luffy and the gang will need to unite and work together to gain back their strength and figure out the many mysteries of this strange island and the people that inhabit it.
''The gang is itching for adventure''
I can only imagine the brainstorming sessions that went into making a video game based on a franchise as beloved as One Piece, especially when you're doing it with the 25th anniversary tag on the line. That had to be a ton of pressure. But if they were nervous in the slightest, then it seems that developer ILCA managed to keep in check... well at least somewhat. With the game being more in line of a traditional RPG and focusing more on a turn based style gameplay over the open world action we saw in World Seeker, expectations were higher for it as.. come on now, how can you mix One Piece and RPG together and completely flub it? you cant. What? I'm lying? no I'm not, you must be mistaken me for Usopp because he's the only one with a nose that long. But alas, moving on. Unlike other anime based games where one game carries out the storyline of one or two arcs directly ripped out of the shows themselves or in the case Dragon Ball Z, where you play the same 4 arcs over and over and over for twenty years... here in Odyssey, they take a slightly different approach to the formula. Instead of being 1:1 with story arcs as per the usual, ILCA instead decides to give you a brand new original story that lets the Straw Hat Crew go on one of their biggest adventures yet and even one of strangest mysteries. Offering you a brand new original story and intertwining the past arcs from the series itself, Odyssey offers both fans of the franchise an ''Oh ya I remember that!'' moment and new fans and easy pick up to play RPG where they don't have to watch over 1000 episodes to figure out just what the heck is wrong with Usopps deformed nose, why is Brook so freaky, is Luffy's stomach a bottomless pit and even what the heck is Chopper? he's so cute, but what the heck is he?. But how is this achieved without it getting confusing? well actually its super easy, barely an inconvenience. But we'll get to that in just a second.
The game opens up similar to Sonic Froniters, with the most obvious suspect, Falco, getting our Straw Hat Crew sucked through a vortex and ending up stranded on a mysterious new island that has dangerous hazards like bright glowing crystals falling from the sky. Luckily no one is killed, but hang on where is Nami? where is Zoro? where is Brook? and where is Luffy's hat!. Oh no!. Well Luffy's hat isn't the biggest worry here, I mean come on, we potentially got sucked into a dimensional warp, it's not a hat that is that big of a priority, right? ... right?. After exploring a bit and getting some clues from chain smoker Sanji, Franky and cute as buttons, Chopper, you learn of the direction Nami has been stranded at and as you and the rest of your friends rush to her aid, ROAR, she's being attacked by Harambe, oh my, he's back and with a vengeance. It is here where you get your first taste of the combat and learning the rules of the game. As this is an RPG, upon jumping into a battle, whether you run straight into them yourself or they attack you like the crazy people they are, combat will play out in a turn based style. Each character in your party being able to use regular attacks, class based skills, use TP to use more powerful abilities, which can be restored by using regular attacks to damage enemies, which thankfully enough, carries over into your next big skirmish, etc. Freely being able to attack at will is not allowed, as once again this is a turned based RPG and works on a ''my turn'' meter so to speak, in which each player and opponent switches turns to attack whenever the meter shows its their turn. People with little brothers might get some PTSD from this and remember the days of their little brothers saying ''Mom said its my turn to use the XBOX!''. Using this meter in conjunction with Dramatic Scenes that activate to give you an attack increase, Chopper having the ability to heal party members, R1 to switch characters to choose who will attack next in order for you to make a strategy, pressing Triangle to swap out crew members from your party to strategize type effectiveness of Power, Speed and Technique, all of which are different based off the enemy types, and much like in Pokemon, they will determine whether an attack is really weak or super strong. This in turn makes every battle a bit of a mini game and a thought process to go through to make sure you match up effectiveness types perfectly, otherwise, Boss fights are going to give you a REALLY REALLY bad time.
''No time to monkey around''
As stated before, the plot in Odyssey here is an original story and a very much on going one, well past the first few hours that games usually set up. As you progress and learn that the Island you're on is the legendary Waford, gather parts to fix a sinking Sunny, find Luffy's stupid freakin hat, combat a gigantic fiery totem guardian, sneak up on enemies to surprise attack them by slapping them in the booty, encounter a super chonky ugly doggo squirrel that still looks better than my doggo, learn that glowing objects and walls can be destroyed with Luffy's gum gum arms to reveal new paths, treasures and even grapple over ledges, use your Observation Haki to identify secrets hidden around a dungeon or map for an increased chance to fight enemies that offer higher EXP.. after all that, you get a Hulk Hogan finger point of doom. What? Oh yeah. Out of nowhere, this mysterious woman, who we learn is named Lim, touches us in safe spaces, not no no zone's, and takes away our abilities, strength and traps them in cubes. This renders you completely useless in a fight and even makes some of the crew forget how to even fight in general. Honestly, they're basically like me when I forget basic tasks, only there's is out of being hit with amnesia and mine is just out of laziness. With your skills now trapped in cubes, I guess the crew definitely CANT say ''Today Was A Good Day''. Luckily for you, a man named Adio, who considers himself an explorer, saves you in knick of time. Heading back to his home with him, you learn that Lim has the power to steal peoples powers using her bloodline. What? It can't be.. It couldn't be, is it THAT bloodline!?. Ok I have no clue what I'm talking about. Long story short, this in turn means... fetch quest. Yup. Albeit its not that bad since most aren't mandatory and you will find them hidden away or hanging around the map as you explore, so that's a relief at least, and missing any wont effect your playthrough much because they merely act like glorified upgrade accessories anyhow, which ill explain in a bit. Being annoyed as heck like I was and Adio sensing my rawr ktity attitude, he agrees to come with us to explore and take us to a cave to test our limits. Oh? big haired boy is going to fight? of course not, wuss. Instead he acts like a guest party member that acts on his own with giving you items or just chillin in the back. Think of Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intermission with Yuffie and Sonen and you have the basic idea of how him and other guest characters operate.
Continuing the narrative with learning of the relationship between Lim and Adio and learning why Lim hates pirates because someone killed her pet parrot(Call PETA!), focus on regaining your abilities by defeating formidable guardians, search for treasure and uncover a secret hidden agent from a small shadow group of characters that are keeping a close eye out on things, you learn more about the core gameplay that you're still being introduced to, well into the mid hours of this title. These game mechanics including swinging over gaps with Luffy's gum gum arms, use collected Cube Fragments to level up abilities of each character by opening crew menu and inserting them into open slots, switch party members on the fly to freely control in the overworld for fun or to solve puzzles and obstacles with, such as if a gate is blocking your way, you can switch to Zoro and slash it down, or with a cute as holy heck character like Chopper, use him to fit through small crawling spaces because he's such a tiny little fella. All that would be enough right? yeah I agree, you're probably like ''oh shut up already you scurry!'' and to that I say, hey what the heck?. But your wise cracking jerk attitude aside, in between various objectives, missions and tasks you complete, you also unlock way more to bolster your gameplay even further and even way more in depth with the Camps. With Camps you're able to take a break at specific camp sites to cook, make trick balls, fuse accessories together, change your outfits, change people in your party and even increase EXP by 30% for battles and up the chances for more critical hits in battles. Wow, that's almost as awesome as doing The Duck Walk, Cool, HUH?. Topping off and rounding out all these awesome features to wrap up everything about the core gameplay are Sanji's Kitchen, where Sanji can cook you various ingredients that can be picked up during battles and in shops that add benefits such as healing HP, raising TP or boost defense and attack by stacking multiple food items together. Other ways to gain major advantages are with two remaining features known as Robin's Mystery Craft and Usopp Factory with Robin's Mystery Craft allowing you fuse equipment items together which will give your main piece of equipment an huge power up for each gear that you wish to utilize - and finally there's Usopp Factory. This factory by long nose boy himself acts as your crafting station by utilizing the Trick Balls I mentioned earlier and giving you the ability to debuff your opponents with lower defensive abilities and lower attacking percentage. This makes boss fights WAY easier if you're stuck on a single one and get a tad bit frustrated due to being poo poo at the game. I'm sorry, you aren't poo poo. That title belongs to Yamcha.
''The mysterious explorer, Adio''
Moving forward again through the story as you push through the Thunderhead Ruins solving puzzles with lightning switches to take down the power grid hiding a Thunder Colossus Guardian, learn that Aido is also a fruit of the looms user who has the power of good hands... and.. hmm. Good hands? sign him to the Arizona Cardinals because were absolute trash, learn about the shadow entity behind the scenes talking about ''IT'' wakng up and ''what if IT'' wakes up, which offers further mystery, learn about giant cubes that can't be put back inside your body by Lim, who then sends you to QBert land. Well not Qbert himself, but a land of cubes in general, in which contains all the crew's memories and in order to get your full abilities back, we must enter Memoria, world of memories and retrace our steps of past accomplishments that the Straw Hat Gang from the anime went through. However it is not the same as before as events can play out differently, and enemies become way stronger. This is made immediately clear as you enter the first memory of Alabasta. If you remember this from the anime then you will know that during this arc, your goal was to take down Crocodile, Boroque and saving Vivi in order to prevent a full fledged war.
Simple right? kind of. Even though these are your past events, memories are fuzzy according to Lim and this is evident as you head to the Docks to gain access to your old ship, only to see the Marine's clogging the sea. Huh? that didn't happen in the original version. Well shoot. Different events, stronger enemies, way weaker due to the cubes.. gee thanks for gimping me, now I know how Yamcha feels every Dragon Ball arc. Ok I know I know, this isn't Dragon Ball, not even close, so I cant rag on him. Dang it. Oh well, I'll just switch to talking about Usopp and his stupid freak nose. Look at him, what a freak. He's like characters from the movie The Witches, if you've seen that one, then you know what I'm talking about... or to go even further, he's like the dude in Beetlejuice who can grow his face out, only this time Usopp only does this with his nose. Alright, sorry. That's enough roasting Usopp for now. Hmph. Stupid Dennis The Menace sling shot dumb dumb. But holy yikes were so off topic aren't we? So yes you know about the different forms of combat with it being a turned based RPG, switching characters to move about the battlefield depending on proximity of enemies, puzzle solving, world traversal with abilities, ability effectiveness, story and noses, but is there anything else you should know before deciding if this game is right for you? kind of.
''An electrifying turn of events''
There are some things that may turn people off to the game or hinder their experience. This being that Waford with all its build up early on in the game as an island of legend, is basically just a glorified hub that you just chill on between main chapters, well aside from some narrative pieces here on there. This is due to most of the game taking place specifically in Memoria and exploring past memories of the Straw Hat Crew. These aren't bad missions, quite the opposite, unlike Naruto and Dragon Ball games, the events of the memories and previous arcs in the One Piece series plays out very differently and almost like a ''What If'' scenario and it makes it feel not only fresh, but pretty brand new too. The reason however why I say this is a negative because I feel there's so much more potential to be explored on Waford Island from stuff you see in the background of the map and I just wanted to see way more. Side quests can also be a tad bit weird here in the game with quests not openly being available as you progress through memories and instead require you to beat one chapter, then head back to that memory to see if there's anything for you to do in that specific area, such as side quests and friendship bonding events with your crew members.
Playing through each world though isn't all bad news because each area you go to in Memoria feels expansive and worth exploring, albeit with limitations, still, the game itself and each environment looks absolutely gorgeous from its NPC's, buildings, water, grass, ships, it honors the look and feel of the anime to a near perfect level. So why even do backtracking or side missions? simple, the end game. Not Mr. Strange, not that end game, I'm talking about late game dungeons you can partake in that range from ''ehh this isn't so bad'' to ''Oh my god I'm dying, I'm dyingggg, ahhhh, I can't feel my legs... Payne, I can't feel my legs!''. Well ok, its not that bad, but its still a tough time. So instead of crying, you can do bonding events in the parallel world of Hystoria to unlock bond attack for battles, get annoyed like me at the early game stopping you every friggin 10 steps for a cutscene and tutorial, making it as annoying as Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, take alternate routes to explore hidden areas, grind enemies for higher levels, upgrade everyone's special abilities, talk to locals to learn more about the world and get hints on your mission, test your brain with puzzle solving in dungeons and be a complete lazy butt like me and throw on auto-battle so you can continue drinking your Bepis and eating your Cheese Its while your party does all the heavy lifting for ya. Way too easy. But I would NOT recommend this for boss battles. You need to manually control these battles if you want to stand a chance. At least more of a chance than Usopp has at trying to kiss a girl because his nose is so big that he'd just poke her eye out.
''A chonky boy approaches''
At the end of the day, One Piece Odyssey is a tremendous way to celebrate this franchises 25th anniversary. Sure its not a perfect game with annoying gameplay interruptions in the early part of the game that holds your hand and has too many cutscenes that stops you from playing the dang game, backtracking that can feel like a tad slog, fast travel not available till after Chapters are completed, difficulty level other than boss fights being way way too easy, etc. However even with all the negatives, this title makes up for it with its gorgeous environments and fun designed dungeons, keeping the core element and theme of friendship that the franchise is known for, engaging and strategic turned based action, tons of abilities, upgrades, and equipment for each playable character, craft items and use food for buffs and debuff advantages and just a fun game overall.
You can tell ILCA and Bandai cared a lot about this game due to its presentation and the way the story is presented to you. Heck there's even an extensive amount of dialogue for this game from the original japanese voice actors themselves, which is evident in and out of combat and throughout all the cutscenes, its pretty crazy, but a welcomed crazy. Again, when its all said and done, One Piece Odyssey gives you an original tale that keeps the story that unfolds about friendship and adventure and honors the core values of this now 25 year old franchise and makes me confident in saying that even if you aren't a long time fan or even are a long time One Piece fan, that as an RPG player, you will find enjoyment from this title, even with its shortcomings.
So with all this having been said, my verdict is clear. GameNChick says BUY NOW.