Odin Sphere Leifthrasir Review: Vanillaware circles back beautifully

Written by Allen

August 5, 2016


odin sphere title

We take a look back at one of the PlayStation 2 classic and see if the remastered version did some justice.

I first picked up this game during the PS2 age, where I was delightfully surprised by what the game had shown me, it had also gained many fans because of its amazing art and impressively intertwined stories of the 5 protagonists the game featured. Thanks to this development, jRPG fans always look forward to Vanillaware’s next releases. While it was also available on PS3, a new and expanded edition had been announced for the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. Exciting news for anyone who loves Odin Sphere, but some are hesitant due to a rather high price tag. Is it really worth all your gold coins or are you better off saving it for tasty pastries? Let’s venture yet again into the world of Odin Sphere on the PS Vita and see if it charms us yet again.

Production (5/5)

  • Artful Sprites
  • Stunning backgrounds
  • Smooth Graphics
  • Rearranged soundtracks a great treat
  • New Animations

While Odin Sphere does look amazing, it always has, so we can’t just straight up credit this as a plus in the game. Though I honestly appreciate how the game has properly transitioned to HD so it doesn’t look dated. The layered sprites and the backgrounds of this game continue to look like paintings coming to life. While many developers have converted to complete 3D graphics. Vanillaware stuck to its guns and shows what sprites are capable of. Also, did you enjoy the music back in the original title? Man, wait till you get an earful of the new rearranged OSTs. All this, and the game doesn’t slow down anymore. Maybe it does if you’re hitting a lot of enemies with a lot of bullets. But I never felt like it slew down to the point that it hindered gameplay.

Mechanics (4.5/5)

  • Completely Renewed Skills & Perks System
  • Thrilling Combat
  • Well integrated grinding and exploring

The Odin Sphere Leifthrasir will, be default make you play its new style of play. Refined Mode, which is true in every sense of the word. The POW gauge now doesn’t deplete with normal attacks and enemy HPs have gotten more padded, demanding more action out of the player. Spells are now paid directly with phozons instead of charges, allowing more frequent use of them.

The game also reintroduces each playable character with different moves each, bringing in what Vanillaware has developed through the years with their other games, Muramasa and Dragon’s Crown. Their uniqueness is further demonstrated on their skills and spells available, which follows a certain theme based on their weapons. One can give remarkable reach with their spear, another be an insane grappler with chains, or even a torrent of projectiles from a bow. All of them feel familiar enough to be easy to pick up but as more skills unlock begin showing off their unique styles of play.

Speaking of unlock, you’ll find in the skill trees that some of them can be naturally found as you play, but some of them can only be found in hidden parts of the map. So if you want to develop your character that much further, you’ll have to explore the map and figure out where the hidden items are. This naturally makes you grind and hunt for loot, which is a requirement to level up your characters stats and abilities. You want to do all this because you’ll want to take your character that much further; being able to take your combo that much further, to have those extra potions or items that help you survive those bosses, or simply have more options at your disposal. With the fast pace of this game, you always want to be able to do more.

So quite literally, to get the best experience playing the game, you just have to play the game. How goals and methods of obtaining them intertwine with one another, you’re always not that much further to another goal after completing one. Even if you feel like grinding, you’ll soon want to proceed to the next stage to up the ante of not only the loot but the effectiveness of your grind as well. Clear thought has been placed to make the session a consistently rewarding experience. It just feels good to play.

Content (3/5)

  • New Maps
  • New Enemies/Mid Bosses
  • Lack of themed battles

If you were maybe looking for new storylines to follow or well anything to do with the story. Sorry to disappoint you but you won’t find it here. Thankfully skipping is an option if you don’t feel like rewatching scenes you’ve already seen before. While this may be a point of disappointment for some, the Odin Sphere Leifhtrasir definitely gives a lot to sink your teeth into.

Content-wise, having completely renewed characters is already quite a feat. But they’ve gone ahead and added new enemies as well which introduces the players new and more difficult challenges despite the power-up of each character. Maps also have new gimmicks and designs that make navigating them either easier or more interesting. Treasures and bosses may be behind locked gates, tiny cracks in a wall might be passable if you’re small enough, and some obstacles can be overcome if you have the right spell. Safe zones will also introduce a travelling chef so you won’t have to be so reliant on healing items between battles. How the maps are designed such that it looks like you’re trying to reach a top of a tree or a heat of a volcano is at the very least cute, and a minute detail I personally appreciate.

If there’s one thing anyone should demand out of this title, it’s to have more special battles like Mercedes’ dog fights. Suddenly playing a shooter game while in free-flight was a pleasant surprise, and more things like it would have been appreciated. Like some sort battle where you actually get to fight alongside allies or an escape mission.

Features (3.5/5)

  • XTRA Mode and Hero Mode
  • Classic Mode
  • Theatre
  • Digital art book

While the game lacks any sort of online features except for maybe cross-saving, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir has 3 game modes. Refined Mode was already discussed, Classic Mode, is basically the original game, and XTRA Mode which is the New Game +. Allowing you to carry overeverything you had the previous game but with beefed up enemy formations and stats. It also unlocks heroic difficulty, where you’ll always die in one hit. There’s also a featured post-game dungeon, but you can only access it after clearing the game of your current playthrough.

Aside from that, there’s an expanded gallery that allows you to view stylized information about various lore and items in-game, and also has a digital copy of its art book. It’s not really that much when you think about it but these little gestures are appreciated. However, in the end, it would have been nice to have more like a jukebox feature to listen to the game’s songs or something similar.

Overall (5/5)

  • Vanillaware shows how remakes are done
  • Can’t wait for their new IP
  • Could have used newer features and content

It probably would have been nice to see some online play modes in this game but its original design makes it difficult to imagine on how to make this possible. Some rather gimmicky ideas could have been taken farther. However, these are but nitpickings to the satisfaction the title has given me. Yes, people may be daunted by its rather hefty price tag, but proves to be a worthy purchase on the PS Vita. Playing it in short bursts is okay but somehow it always ends up being at least an hour long whenever I start up the game.

Odin Sphere proves to be a timeless game as it continues to be one of the best action jRPGs I’ve played especially thanks to its remake in Leifthrasir. Taking the knowledge and the wisdom that Vanillaware has gained over the years circles back to the game that put them on the map in the first place. This is why it truly feels like a refined version of its predecessor, this is how remakes should be.

Here’s to looking forward to Vanillaware’s next IP.


Odin Sphere Leifthrasir on the PS Vita shines with a polished 4.3 / 5

Also available on the PlayStation 4.

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