Ragnarok Odyssey Review
One of the best Vita games so far
As a monster hunter fan, I’ve been patiently waiting for a next generation title for many years but it is yet to arrive so after I saw videos of Ragnarok Odyssey for the Vita I was very excited, it looked very similar to my beloved Monster Hunter.
Ragnarok Odyssey is a hack and slash style game that’s a cross between Monster Hunter and Champions Return to Arms. You play as a warrior from one of five classes (that you can change whenever you like) each with its own advantages and disadvantage and venture out to help the local town with its problems.
The gameplay follows a consistent format you first venture out into an area and tackle some weaker monsters whilst completing objectives such as slaying X monsters of type Y or collecting 10 special items.
Once you’ve been through a few of these missions you face a bigger, much stronger monster. These present a whole new challenge and require much more planning and thought to take down. You normally have to weaken the monster by attacking certain points on its body and once one is sufficiently weakened move onto another. These boss fights also require you to carefully observe the monster and learn how to spot signs of an incoming attack so you can get out of the way.
To stop you racing through the levels without fighting many monsters you become trapped in a small area periodically and can only escape by slaying a certain number of enemies. Being confined in a small area means you need to be smart and keep an eye on your health or you’ll find yourself outnumbered and cornered.
The combat system in this game is great fun, you hit either triangle or circle to slash at the enemy with varying degrees of power or strength but the addictive part is when you throw them into the air and then start battering them, it just feels great.
You can also perform a powerful attack by holding down the circle button and watching these being carried out can provide hours of entertainment. The swordsman for example can throw close to every monster 10ft through the air and watching a giant troll fly past you just never gets old.
Finally there’s the berserk attack unlocked once you’ve filled up the meter by killing enough enemies, this enables you to hit faster and harder but whenever you’re not hitting an enemy your health is rapidly drained.
All the characters in this game have a Japanese feel to them especially the monsters, they’re also vibrantly coloured and look beautiful. The only disappointing thing about them is that there aren’t many. Each new level generally features the same monsters but in different colours.
Each location has multiple areas just like Monster Hunter and they’re really good looking. The colours are vivid and the lighting effects spectacular. You get lost in the forests just panning the camera around looking at the light streaming in.
Disappointingly the item system isn’t as deep as Monster Hunter, you collect items from enemies you slay and boxes you smash but you can’t do any sort of combing with them to create new items such as potions. The only use they have is for handing over to craftsman and women to create new weapons and clothes.
What it does have though is a neat system for increasing specific abilities through cards. You can buy cards or just wait until you find them scattered throughout the levels and each one increases a certain ability and sometimes decreases another. Your outfit has a maximum cost for the cards it can carry and generally the greater the benefit the larger the cost. As you progress through the game you can upgrade your outfit and carry a greater number of cards.
You have to use this card system to your advantage and so for example if you’re heading out to fight monsters that frequently stun you, then equip cards with stun resistance alternatively if you just need raw power pile on as many AP increasing cards as possible.
You can also take up to three different types of potions out with you; these can be simple health increasing potions or fancier ones that do things like increasing attack power or raising resistance to certain conditions. The touch screen on the vita makes using the potions super simple you just need to tap on them to consume them so no more frantically tapping multiple buttons trying to heal whilst being chased down by a monster like in Monster Hunter.
The touchscreen also makes sending messages to other players really simple, you can just tap an icon and type a message or display an emoticon.
You can either play through the whole game online or if you have friends team up with them and play the entire game online cooperatively. You meet up in a tavern (seem familiar?) where you can buy supplies and then head out onto the quest.
The entire online experience is incredibly smooth and lag free, I’ve never had a disconnection or any problems playing online. There are no invites but you can create private rooms and then have your friends search for them with the “Limited to Friends Only” option.
Overall, this is one of the best Vita games available currently and whilst it’s not as good as monster hunter it’s a must own for all fans of the genre. I have no idea why it isn’t being released worldwide, fortunately there’s a Chinese version that is all in English and the game will be released in America in late October.
By Aaron Kalair
PSOnline purchased their copy of Ragnarok Odyssey.