After 25 years with Luffy and his friends, Bandai Namco confirmed that the One Piece series still has some tricks up its sleeve by transforming the beloved pirate crew into a proper JRPG. But the challenge of taking one of anime’s most popular names and fitting it into the mold of one of the most beloved game genres is no small one. Better suited for iconic pirate adventures. In my time with it, many of these changes felt like an improvement over the standard JRPG recipe, and more importantly, much more in line with what I expected from One Piece. After three hours of running around as Zoro and Chopper, I barely felt like I had scratched the surface.
One of the main ways One Piece Odyssey confuses existing JRPG formulas is by doing away with the standard turn-based battle system where parties face off against rival groups of enemies. Combat is still turn-based with standard attacks, stronger skills or special abilities that can be activated a limited number of times, and consumables that can be depleted, but each character is divided into four different zones. , faced its own slate of bad guys rather than fighting collectively. Importantly, this made the combat encounters more closely mirror the anime’s combat sequences. All members of the Straw Hat Pirates are powerful enough to smash numerous enemies on their own and show off their insane skills. Short might have been more appropriate, but it was also nice to see all the characters in the spotlight as they were forced to use them evenly to get through the encounters. work of the enemy. And fortunately, if one character dealt with an enemy early on, he could instruct nearby allies to help and wrap things up more quickly.
Even more interesting was a unique new feature called “dramatic scenes” that sometimes occur during battles. These sequences punctuate the regularly scheduled assholes to insert drama that adds a special challenge or twist to the story. This was one of the coolest things we’ve seen in Odyssey.In one instance, Usopp was swarming a group of enemies and had to rush to save him before he was taken out. I haven’t seen enough of these encounters to understand how common they are or if they’re randomly triggered, but the idea was interesting and kept bugging me (And it was a nice break from the standard turn-based combat that could be repetitive).
Another great way Odyssey impressed me was the variety of ways you could explore its territory. Specifically, the ability to instantly switch between One Piece’s cast of playable characters, each with their own unique abilities. Usopp had the ability to snipe things with his slingshot, which was very useful for taking down items that were hidden high up. Switching between characters while running around opened up a whole new set of possibilities, depending on who you were controlling at the time, and there were plenty of reasons to backtrack for new pathways, hidden items, and side quests. Plus, being able to switch between different characters and mix things up was really nice. Sometimes it feels like running around as a pirate reindeer.
But while I was generally happy with Odyssey’s effort to mix JRPG conventions with some fresh new takes, I was left with a JRPG mechanic I’ve long despised: static savepoints. There were certainly other areas that made me frown, like their insistence on sticking around. I’m mostly a fan of his JRPGs, but I hope Odyssey doesn’t stop with the few evolutions he’s gone through so far. Either way, I’m looking forward to continuing my pirate adventure when One Piece Odyssey releases on his January 12th.