A brand new RPG set in the world of the popular anime, ONE PIECE! Play as members of the Straw Hat Crew in a fantastic adventure set in the ONE PIECE world!
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Reviewed on: PC (5800X, 32GB, Nvidia RTX 3070)
Also available for: PlayStation, Xbox
Cast: Mayumi Tanaka, Akemi Okamura, Kazuya Nakai, Kappei Yamaguchi, Hiroaki Hirata
Developer: ILCA, Inc.
Directors: Tomohiko Saito, Daisuke Goto
Graphic Director: Atsushi Numata
Lead Battle Planner: Mitsu Iwao
Welcome to the wacky and wonder-filled lives of the straw hat pirates. This adventure begins with the Sunny Thousand being shipwrecked on the island of Waford. The prologue then starts with the crew scattered onto the island as their beloved ship breaks apart on the rocks. The Island of Waford holds many mysteries and is immediately explored by a player-controlled Captain, Luffy. He begins his journey searching the beach for his scattered crew. Soon finding them and realises Nami has been kidnapped by some of the local wildlife, a strange bunch of ape-looking creatures. The crew comes together and heads through a cave, battling various creatures to save their navigator. The crew defeats the giant ape and his minions, only to be ambushed by a steel-looking colossus equipped with flame powers. Fighting the giant mechanical enemy seems fruitless, as the crew can’t deal an ounce of damage to it. Luckily a strange man and a small girl come in to save the crew. The celebrations are cut short as the small girl uses her power on the pirates to make them forget their abilities and cause them to become weaker. The crew is perplexed by this happening and investigates these two strangers to reveal they are not as bad as they first seem. After a brief time with them, you discover their names are Adio and Lim, new additions to the One Piece world; they soon become friends with Aido, but Lim is standoffish while you gain her trust.
One Piece is a long-running show and manga starting in the late 90s and is well known for its substantial story arcs. One Piece Odyssey allows the players to go back and experience four of those arcs, starting with the ‘Alabasta arc’ and finishing with the ‘Dressrosa arc.’ These tales are some of the bigger ones in the One Piece universe. Odyssey has a smart storytelling idea of using Lim’s memoria powers, a memory-type devil fruit power, to play with the story. These stories become game friendly, adding that the memories might differ from how the character or player remembers them due to memories not being perfectly defined and objectionable material. This early setup allows the game makers to play with the arcs. While the stories will always end the same, what happens inside of them might not be what initially in the manga or anime portrayed. To accompany this, a handy story guide on the Bandai Namco website allows players to brush up on the arcs if players want to read the canon version. These arcs will have you laughing and crying along with our sea fairing friends, and the sense of nostalgia seeing past characters have a chance to gain an understanding of closure was an excellent addition to the game.
Gameplay is similar to other RPGs, with turn-based combat mechanics including additional features to make them their own. Each battle has four zones, where the crew is divided between fighting the opposition. Each zone can hold up to four characters on each side, and sometimes, not all zones will be utilised depending on the battle. There are additional strengths and weaknesses for each of the enemies and player characters ensuring the battle tactics are set up early makes for easier fights. The game also introduces mid-fight missions called “Dramatic Scenes”; these are opportunities to gain additional experience for overcoming an inconvenient situation. These situations vary in difficulty from simply winning the battle before a character faints to beating an enemy with a particular player or moving and can even focus on the individual’s personality. The zones in battle also allow characters to use special moves that might affect multiple zones or just the one they are battling in. Some actions have a chance to knock back an enemy into another zone, damaging not only them but the other members in that zone. Activating a battle is as simple as approaching an enemy on the map to engage them. The attack vector determines which side will gain an advantage, which occurs when the player or enemies attack from the rear. Battles are played out in order of whoever has the advantage. Generally, players attack first unless they have been ambushed. There are two methods of engagement manual and automatic. This allows the player to choose to fight or will enable the AI to take over instead, and the Auto-Battle feature was helpful for grinding levels.
Additionally, there is the option to speed up battles to allow them to be played out quicker, also great when you’re grinding for levels. In my playthrough, I discovered the fights were simple yet hard to master. As the game went on, these battles became more challenging and more grinding was required to try and stay ahead of the difficulty curve.
There are multiple systems in play in the game, including an experience and levelling system, a gear system, and a battle system. They all have pros and cons, and it takes a bit of reading and messing around to find the best strategies as a player. The RPG fans among us will enjoy the challenge. Levelling is done through engaging in battles. Each battle allows the player and character to gain experience simply by winning, and adding dramatic scenes allows for gaining additional experience and levelling up faster. The gear system took me a little while to understand. In the game menu, you have the choice to equip each character with a series of items that enhance their specifications, these can be health, attack, defence or other specs related, and later in the game, there are also opportunities to combine these items to make more robust gear that covers multiple specifications. These combinations allow the user to equip more items and enhance the characters. There are also options to auto-equip the best gear depending on your desired build. There is a range of options here to target health, attack, defence, and even special abilities. I played with many of these and found that my build ebbed and flowed throughout my gameplay, seeing I mainly adjusted if I began to be overwhelmed in battle. The battle systems have a few interesting twists, outside of the standard attack you also have a ‘TP’ attack, a set of unique attack points. Battling enemies builds up the TP points allowing the character to unleash a special attack. An additional battle system is called ‘bonds,’ where players can work on bonds between characters. These bonds unlock special moves, for example, Zorro, Chopper and Usopp unleashing a chained attack for massive damage. These bonds are typically upgraded via side missions, including the individuals repairing a memory.
The crew felt like they were pulled directly from the anime, with the art being exceptionally well done and transitioned to a 3D format. All have their strengths and weaknesses as characters and play their roles well. Whether it is the constant arguing between Zorro and Sanji, the greed of Nami, or even the caring of Chopper, the characters all have a chance to talk, evolve and have their spotlight. The writers served the fans excellently, ensuring the characters remained true to what’s loved about them. Not only has the crew been ripped from the screen and rendered in a beautiful 3D so have the supporting characters, enemies, and animals. Emotions and personalities played a massive role in the game and allowed me to enjoy my time with the game immensely. The story, although not canon, plays out throughout the game in a wonderful arc and has its twists and turns. The writing is bold and keeps with the familiar tone of the anime. As a player, you get to choose how involved in the world you want to be, there is plenty of side quests, bounties, memory missions and more to explore and get involved with, or you might smash along the main storyline.
While One Piece Odessey might not be for everyone, it had its hooks on me. The gameplay is fun but can sometimes be repetitive, and there are times when I wanted more variety, but the story was solid, and that’s what kept me coming back. The game was interesting, and seeing how the developers brought the One Piece world to life was exciting. One Piece Odyssey will satisfy you if you are a One Piece or a challenging RPG fan. There was always plenty to do, to see, read and explore. The battle mechanics were hard to master and added to the game. I really cannot wait to see what the team at ILCA, Inc can come up with next.