Ragnarok Odyssey Review: The Game That Should Have Shipped With The Vita
Note: This review was completed using the Vita game Ragnarok Odyssey. My file has 43 hours on it in which I was able to complete the story, grind some gear and mats, and even play some Co-Op with a friend.
This is the game that most Vita fans were waiting for: Monster Hunt– I mean something like Monster Hunter. The best way to describe this game is to call it a faster-paced Monster Hunter. You have a central town with a chest, room, NPC’s, shops, and a counter with women that give out quests for either single player or co-op. The biggest differences come in the speed of the game, classes, and item usage. Still, if you like Monster Hunter there should be no reason why you don’t own this game already. If you’re still on the fence then looks over some of the experiences I had.
You’ll never get the feeling that life in Ragnarok Odyssey is dull and/or boring. Everyone is hyped up about your adventures and the people who you go to for missions and story always have a pep in their step. That was always one thing I never cared for in Monster Hunter, everyone always seemed to down in the dumps that I wanted to go on quests just to get away from the depressing townsfolk.
The main NPC’s are fun to listen to as they rant on each other and yell. Emoticons pop up over them that indicate how they’re feeling at that moment in time and they actually work really well. You have access to these emoticons right on screen, too. Just something about the way everyone interacts is invigorating and keeps me wanting to progress.
Ragnarok Odyssey is not a hard game but it isn’t easy, either. You need to keep your wits about you out in the field and always ensure your gear is up-to-date, you got the right cards equipped, and your potions are full. During missions you have 3 lives to work with. If you run out of those, you’re transported to town in shame. Knowing when to dash away, jump, use items, or execute your “rush” mode (as I like to call Dainsleif Mode) is very important.
I wouldn’t say that this game is anywhere near the unforgiving nature of Monster Hunter but it does tend to ramp up at random times to test you. To that effect, I think the progression works out better in Ragnarok Odyssey. Your weapons, armor, and cards only get updated in the town shops when you come across the right materials. Everything works upon crafting with your mats and if you can’t reach a certain one just yet, you’ll have to make due with what you can find in drops or buy. That makes for long waits between upgrades but it also means you need to get good with your class. Survivability is extremely important in this game and they test that out on your numerous time.
Since towns only update with new items every so often, the game realizes that sometimes you just can’t get past a certain point with the class your playing until you upgrade. Thankfully there’s freedom to change your class after the first chapter. You can head into your room, pick a new class, and head out on a mission. Sometimes missions can just be too tough for a Rank 3 Assassin but a Rank 3 Hammersmith could do it with ease thanks to the high HP. You’ll find yourself trying your hardest to stick with a class you like but never forget that you can switch whenever you please/need to.
Classes are two things in Ragnarok Odyssey: 1) probably the biggest difference between this and Monster Hunter and 2) not all that great. Your choice of class dictates which weapons and special cards you can use. Those are very important things but splitting them up in class requirements and even changing the stats for the classes (which don’t make much sense at all, really) kinda hampers the game.
First off, some classes just feel nigh useless. Hunters do some alright damage but the arcing arrows and close range survival issues make it for a tough class to play. It isn’t a bad class, really. It just takes a ton more effort to not only get used to it but to stay alive with it, too. Clerics are great. I love this class but in single player it seems stuck to close combat and that’s it. Getting off the healing field spell during single player can be very difficult without a friend there to keep things off of you while you cast. Clerics do have some great combos, though for AoE damage. That leaves just the Hammersmith, Sword Warrior, Mage, and Assassin to work with.
The Hammersmith is cool but extremely slow and even the combos can be tough to execute due to timing. You could find yourself very vulnerable due to a long combo. Sword Warriors are the most balanced of the classes. They feel quick enough to stay alive in most situations but they feel generic. Mages are really cool and the magic is varied but they are so squishy and in a game like this, the more squishy you are the more you’re going to get frustrated. The Assassin, besides the Cleric for online play, is my favorite class to play. They are so fast and require you to keep moving and dashing around. Rush mode is extra fun with the Assassin thanks to the speed and unlimited dashing. Combos can be a bit cumbersome due to the movements and vulnerabilities but I just really enjoy playing the Assassin.
So with that said I really only found the Cleric and Assassin fun to play with a small exception for Mages. Hunters are way too underpowered. Sword Warriors get old very quickly. Hammersmiths can kill effectively but you leave yourself open too much.
You’re going to come face-to-face with mini-bosses (which then subsequently turn into common monsters in the field) and bosses (which can be farmed after the initial mission). Both encounters can be very fun and challenging.
For the min-bosses, I gotta talk about the Grizzly. This big bear is a nasty you’ll encounter fairly early in the game and the first fight with one can be tough and long. You need to be good with your potions, lives, and dodging for this battle. It’s fun but the look on your face when you get the Chapter 2 mission to go out and kill 5 of them is priceless. “Wait, wasn’t that a mini-boss before?” Yes. Yes, it was. You’ll encounter mini-bosses then watch as they become tough enemies that are either just uncommon or are common. It keeps you on your toes and ready for a big fight no matter the mission you’re on.
Boss battles are very fun. Take the Orc King, Chapter 1′s boss. He has multiple hit points so you can keep your reticule moving around his body to find weak spots. He’s quick, powerful, and just a tad stupid which you can take advantage of. You’ll even unlock some really cool temporary skills like aerial combat during some boss fights. Ragnarok Odyssey tries to keep the game feeling fresh with its combat and boss battles do a great job of really enforcing that.
Farming bosses for mats is just about required. Most of your new items will require boss mats so if you want to own a set of weapons, armor, headgear, and cards for all classes or the ones you tend to switch between, get ready for some grinding!
Co-op is all handled in the tavern. At the tavern you can group up with your friends and tackle the same missions you play during single player. They are all a bit harder to accompany the help you brought along this time and classes begin to flesh out. As I noted before, Clerics are amazing in multiplayer. Their damage is high and the healing field combo is very valuable. When you get 100-700 HP regained every two or three seconds, you’ll be loved by every group.
I had fun playing co-op in Ragnarok Odyssey even if I felt the camera was a bit more wonky here. The areas aren’t very spacious so when you have 2-10 monsters on screen at once bouncing or flying around and another player nearby, you’ll find yourself spinning the camera around too much. Aside from that this game really comes into its own during co-op. You can play this entire game (including the tavern versions of all the missions) by yourself but some classes really shine when you’re side-by-side with a buddy.
I didn’t expect lag but I had a disconnect once or twice during a long session. If you have a friend with a Vita and this game, do yourself a favor and play together. It is really a lot of fun.
A World Not Without Its Flaws
As positive as my review is, Ragnarok Odyssey isn’t perfect. I know, surprising, right?
The camera can be very fidgety at times. Thankfully it isn’t a common problem but if you’re battling in a small area you’ll find yourself moving the camera way more than you want to. It isn’t nearly gamebreaking or annoying but you will notice it from time to time.
The story here isn’t anything to be amazed by. You’ll be way more happy about the great NPC’s after realizing this. Even a cliche story can be great with the help of some good and varied personalities from the NPCs around you. The only issue is that after you leave town and those cool NPCs, you’ll be face with one of the most glaring issues this game has: scenery repetition. The story will take you to many places in the world but you’ll be hitting the same ones over and over and over and over again. The only thing that changes is which enemy will be focused on for the mission. For the first three chapters you’ll see a hilly area, mountains, caverns, and plains way, way too much. When you finally hit a part in the game when you get a new place to venture to, you’ll be leaping for joy as it makes the game feel so much fresher.
That could be another issue for some players, too. The first two chapters can be pretty slow. You’ll unlock some features as you hit certain missions or beat the chapters. When you reach chapter 3 you’ll feel like the game is finally starting and you’re on your own from here on out. No more unlocking. No more hand-holding. Just you and your missions.
An Action RPG At Its Best For The Vita
When I tagged this review as “the game that should have shipped with the Vita”, I mean that if Ragnarok Odyssey was around for the first or second week of the Vita’s release in Japan, sales would have been doubled or maybe even triple the amount they were. This is the kind of game people around the world want on portables right now. Monster Hunter is a huge, successful franchise and without that around for the Vita, Odyssey would have filled that void. Hell, even here in America I feel that Odyssey would have sold very well.
However, it was not a launch title and history is history. I am a bit shocked at the limited release for America, though. This was a highly anticipated title that took too long to hit our shores and I could only find it at a GameStop where people reserved it. Even then, all of their copies were reserved. Target, Best Buy, and all other local stores listed the game as not available with no release date in sight. Luckily you can download it straight off the PSN but a wider release for retail would have been smart. Also, Sony should have jumped on this like they did for Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation and did a marketing campaign for Ragnarok Odyssey.
Even still, those aren’t complaints about the game itself. I am really enjoying myself in this game and have not stopped playing it since downloading it off the PSN on day 1. I’ve neglected Liberation and even some of my console titles that I still need to review. I got a lot on my plate right now to review (Halo 4, Zone of the Enders HD, Liberation) but I think it says something that I haven’t been able to pry myself around from Ragnarok Odyssey.