Tuesday 4 March, 2008
After playing another hour, I acquired another immortal and my first mortal party member. The mortal, Jansen is the first magic caster that you get in the game. With the introduction of magic, the offensive capabilities of my party greatly increased. One good thing about having mortals in the party is the ability to skill link. On their own, immortals cannot learn skills but when there is a mortal in the party, skills can be linked and learned by the mortals. This results in the immortals (usually) being vastly superior in fighting abilities than the mortals. The few exceptions are the fact that the characters are built to either be melee characters or casters so a caster would be vastly inferior at physical combat and vice versa. Once leaving the first city, I found myself on the world map. In Lost Odyssey, the world is shown in two ways. The majority of the time, you traverse the world through a list of destinations that you can choose. When ships are available, you can actually explore the world, though the possible destinations are somewhat limited to ports.
As the game world became more fleshed out, I learned of the Magical Industrial Revolution that occurred in the world that resulted in a boost of magical technology. As such, everything is powered by magic.
One part of Lost Odyssey I really enjoyed were the unique characters and their interactions with other people in the game world. For example, to contrast Kaim's serious demeaner, Jansen's constant complaints, sarcasm, and whitty remarks really add to the depth of the characters. The voice acting in Lost Odyssey is well done for the most part. A few characters annoyed me, but perhaps that is what they were meant to be portrayed.
Sakaguchi's decision to create an RPG that ignores many of the new elements that have been added to the genre (for better or for worse) was wise. Instead of focusing on groundbreaking ideas, he stuck with the formula created through the years that worked while adding a little flair to keep things fresh.
The music, composed by Nobuo Uematsu of Final Fantasy fame, was beautifully done and complements the game perfectly. The atmospheric melodies played during unlocked memories are wonderfully moody and match the text perfectly.
Mistwalker's decision to include multiple audio tracks (english, japanese, german and a few others) to such a cutscene heavy game was a welcome surprise. Although I have no use for the german or other european tracks, the ability to choose between english and japanese audio is a choice more games should allow. I have played many games in which the english voices were so horrible, that I would cringe everytime I was forced to listen to the characters, though this was not a case for Lost Odyssey.
One unique design element in the battle system is the Guard Condition (GC) system. In battles, the characters in the party can be put into either the front row or the back row. Back row characters are protected from most attacks as long as the front row's GC bar is high. The GC level is determined by the total health of all front row characters. If all characters in the front row are in good condition, most attacks on the back row are buffered and reduced. This system adds some strategy to the fights because enemies use the GC system as well so if there is an enemy caster in the back row being protected by a few enemies in the front row, you must attack the front row to lower the GC and increase damage done to the back. The fact that GC does not come back during battles (unless specific skills are used) makes some boss fights very challenging.