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Odyssey Found? – Part 3 –

Late to the party on finishing Lost Odyssey, I’ve decided to chronicle my adventure through each disc of the game. Kaim’s struggle resonates with me strongly and I’m hoping to figure out some lingering questions about my life by defeating this game.

This blog is entry 3 in a series of 4. After I complete each disc, I will give my reaction to it’s specific content. Think of this as an extended review or analysis. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 by clicking on the links provided.

For a game so profound in its narrative, Disc 3 of Lost Odyssey is a tremendous letdown. Focusing more on exposition and repetitive scenarios, I really could not think of any themes, motives or even motivations. Kaim and crew are purely on a quest for revenge and that’s that.

Even so, Disc 3 does highlight one of the biggest problems with the JRPG genre: lack of innovation. I do not mean to say that JRPGs are necessarily bad games, but without a strong story hook for the duration of 8 hours, I have no idea why this game was spread across 4 discs.

JRPGs, in more recent times, feel like padded affairs. Everyone remembers the distinct locations of Final Fantasy VII’s four discs and how the plotline advanced between them, but Lost Odyssey is purely extending the game length to meet some arbitrary goal of value.

Odyssey Found?   Part 3

Which scenario sounds more impressive? Option A: I beat this epic RPG that took me 60 hours and spanned 4 discs. Option B: I beat a profoundly deep RPG that I was able to blast through in 15 hours. One of the core problems with RPGs are that characters need time to develop and players need to feel like their skills are growing over the course of a vast journey.

If you cut down on all the fat and trim out the excess, an RPG just feels too short and not grand enough. When you pad out the experience, you begin to forget what came before and continue trucking on simply because you’re 30 hours in.

Even with that criticism, Lost Odyssey is probably the best JRPG ever made. I cannot imagine how else to really continue this dated genre of gaming. It has its place in history and is fun when done with such grandeur, but there is nothing left untapped. Having played so many in my day and finally tackling this treasured little cult hit, I can rightfully say that I just do not want more.

Xenoblade Chronicles rekindled the fire that died in me a long time ago. The characters were fantastic, the story had tension and urgency and the modern ideas fused with core Japanese development philosophies made for a highly addictive romp of made-up words and silly costumes.

Odyssey Found?   Part 3

Lost Odyssey, by extension, just feels tired. Kaim is a fantastic way to explain why morality is so important in making mundane tasks matter, but his main goal is just a retread of classic RPG narratives. The big bad guy has massive power and wants to take over the world. You and your motley crew of misfits embark across the world to stop him. Rinse and repeat scenes with dramatic build-up and massive boss battle payoffs.

Disc 3 even shows the children characters as hopelessly lost and a bit selfish. The desire to see one’s deceased mother again is something that could have been propelled into a deep examination on how death impacts us all. It could have also shown a loss of innocence or maybe a grasp of the past to further empower our futures.

Instead, the idiot kids hijack a train and completely obliterate Kaim’s plans to meet with the kings of two nations to stop a war. Nice going, jackasses. When the first short story in the game made me weep, why, at 25 hours ,in am I now regretting investing so much time into this game?

It just saddens me to see such a monumental writer like Hironobu Sakaguchi failing to create believable children, or at least ones who don’t needlessly prolong the game to justify a fourth disc. Even the cutscenes are short, pointless and add nothing of value to the narrative.

Odyssey Found?   Part 3

Speaking of worthless, one of the boss battles is actually a quick time event. I had no idea what they meant when “Tutorial for Battle Escape Sequence” popped up. I thought the game was becoming an action-RPG for a few minutes. Instead, I just had to mash X, Y, A and B a bit in a very generous time frame.

We also get a very awkwardly sung song. I think that has somehow become a modern staple of the JRPG, as even The Last Story had one of those. What’s worse is that the song is inserted into the game to get some ham-fisted romance subplot going. BLECH!

When the battle music kicks in and the camera angle for attacking overtakes the screen, though, I can’t help but be enamored. From an audio/visual standpoint, Lost Odyssey rocks. The game even lets you select from 5 different voice over languages, making for an absolute delight to Japanese enthusiasts (and even Italian lovers).

I have to say that after finishing Disc 3, I’m not quite sure what to expect from the finale. Hopefully the game kicks itself into high-gear and provides a strong sense of closure. I want to know how Kaim is going to deal with his past and how he’ll change the world for the better.

Even if I don’t get that, at least Lost Odyssey exists as a tremendously over-the-top love letter to a genre that might cease in the near future. Japanese developers have a way of creating some truly fantastic worlds; I just wish they’d bring that creativity to their game design more often.

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