The words remastered and definitive get thrown around a lot lately, with game companies holding on to the past, only to upgrade the graphical quality of the game to match with the current system trend of 1080p/60FPS. While this is fine for a lot of people, as we’ve seen a lot of people flock to pick up the latest remastered/Definitive editions of their favourite last gen games, mostly just to get the game on a new console.
Now when I say that Odin Sphere Leifdrasir, a “remaster” of a PS2 classic “Brawler/RPG” epic from Vanillaware is the “Definitive version of the game”, I mean it. In ever sense of the way. You see Vanillaware didn’t have to deliver this version, I’m sure fans of the game would have been happy to see it game come up on the PS2 Classics on PS4 (it already is available for the PS3), but Leifdrasir is not just an upscale of one of the best PS2 games available, it’s a completely different beast.
Odin Sphere tells 5 different stories, intertwined and taking course over the events of a war and a prophecy of the end of the world. Told as if it was an old storybook, players will take control of 5 characters, each out for their own goals. Gwendolyn; a Valkyrie and daughter of the Demon Lord Odin, Cornelius; a prince who has a transformation curse placed on him, Mercedes; the newly appointed Queen of the Fairies who questions her ability to lead her kingdom, Oswald; The Shadow Knight who must fight to escape his death, and Velvet; The forest witch who is attempting to defy her fate.
Each of the stories cross paths, telling a grand epic of love, betrayal, courage and fate. All 5 stories follow circle a prophecy, Crystallized weapons called ‘Psypher’ (which each controllable character wields) and an item called The Cauldron, capable of creating Psyphers at will. With nations at war with each other to get their hands on The Cauldron, players find themselves at odds against dragons, wizards, Fairies, monsters, and other nations.
The story for the most part, is still the heart-wrenching story from the original version. However, gameplay has been improved! Gone is the Dark Souls-esque stamina meter, and now we have a new and improved combo system, which can allow players to use Magic, Power moves, aerial juggle attacks, dashing strikes and charge attacks. Of course each character has their own set of strikes and magic to differentiate from each other. Gwendolyn uses the ability to glide to do a piercing diagonal attack from the sky, Cornelius does a forward flip with his sword, Oswald goes berserk which raises his speed and strength to a ridiculous level.
Levels are mostly laid out in the same way as the original PS2 game, which was unique, some battle levels feature a circular based level which portal points for exits, allowing you to sneak up behind an enemy and deliver a crushing blow, or retreat to avoid hard-hitting area attacks. Leifdrasir also uses areas where platforming becomes essential, and rest areas that allow you to eat meals (an important part of leveling your characters) or shop for new items.
That being said, the game is also much easier than the original PS2 game. The combo system sometimes make battle feel like they end too fast and possibly not a lot of strategy in early levels of each character. Money is earned a lot more with out the fear spending precious Valentine coins, which is needed for special endings, characters also level up using one concrete XP bar rather than basing it on health/combat/Psypher ability. I debated if this was a good or bad thing at first, but by the end when I found myself trying to get the highest combo possible (348 was my highest recorded) and stop worrying about it.
On top of the 1080p/60fps, Leifdrasir also improves the already beautiful artwork, and provides a cleaner audio to make the beautiful orchestral score and the great voice acting clearer (biggest complaint about the original). The ability to cross-save between the PS4, PS3 and Vita versions of the game is another lovely feature for fans who decide to pick up the game on multiple consoles.
Speaking of multiple consoles, we were lucky enough to review both the PSVita and PS4 editions. While there wasn’t any special features that we could find for the exclusive consoles, I was pleasantly surprised with the Vita version and at times find myself preferring it to the handheld’s bigger brother for the accessibility. The game offers the ability to save whenever you want making it a perfect title for the handheld.
Odin Sphere Leifdrasir doesn’t just remake the game, it actually provides the definitive version of the classic game, with a better combat system, better sounds and still delivering a beautiful story and more amazing 2D art work from the team at Vanillaware (who made the equally beautiful Dragon’s Crown and Grimgrimoire.) The game even goes the extra mile with including the ORIGINAL PS2 game, on disk. So if you don’t like the change, or want to see its humble beginnings, the past will be available to you.