In the course of each gamer’s life, there probably came an experience that significantly crafted our identity as gamers. For me, the combination of Final Fantasy VII and VIII chartered the course of my life and lurched me into a life of literature and education. These, as much as any form of art, have the potential to influence each of us immensely. But how often do I replay any of them? When I think about the games that I love, I’m not sure there are many that I’d be able to replay. Of course, I often replay Final Fantasy VII and VII, as well as a handful of other fantastic titles. One such title for me is one of my favorite RPGs, Lost Odyssey.
My freshman year of college served as a memorable one in terms of gaming. In December of 2007, Microsoft Studios published Lost Odyssey, a tag team effort by Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu (the creators of Mistwalker) – the legends of Final Fantasy. What ensued was one of the greatest RPGs to grace our past two generations and an experience that left me in awe. Before I begin, I recommend this title to any Xbox 360 owning RPG enthusiast who never had an opportunity to experience it.
For being nearly a decade old, Lost Odyssey is one of those gems that still holds true today. The opening setting sets the player as Kaim Argonar, an immortal soldier working for the great country of Uhra, in the midst of a bloody and brutal skirmish with enemy nation Khent. Death engulfed the darkened land, and you finally take control, getting a grasp of the traditional turn based combat. The first noticeable aspect of Lost Odyssey is its gorgeous visuals; after nearly ten years, the game is still as vibrant as ever, and the character models, while clearly dated, are still competitive with some of today’s games.
But it is soon after the opening sequence that players get to experience the twist on the battle system. Moments after surviving a catastrophic meteor impact, Kaim makes his way to the evacuation team. On his journey, he picks up a ring accessory, which enhances the damage of team members who utilize the ring based on the timing of a button press (you hold the right trigger until your ring shrinks perfectly into another ring). This system keeps the battles active and fresh, and the battles, for whatever reason, flow much quicker than your traditional RPG.
Once the council of Uhra realize your immortality, they send you on a perilous mission that they believe only an immortal can accomplish – discover why Grand Starff, a research site overrun by the suspicious Gongora, has recently fallen out of communication with Uhra and whether its continual operation is dangerous. Accepting, Kaim leaves the council and meets with a travel partner before taking on his expedition.
For me, however, some of the greatest aspects of Lost Odyssey set within the 1,000 years of dreams. Periodically throughout Lost Odyssey, Kaim finds himself remember fragments of his past in the form of short stories. Each story contains a well written narrative that speaks of tragedy and the helplessness of being an immortal. In order to understand Kaim’s full past, the player can hunt down hidden memories – and these make the overall narrative much more worthwhile. Kaim’s story presented throughout the course of Lost Odyssey is dark enough, but the 1,000 years of dreams adds an extra layer of subtle tragedy.
The score, too, paints another layer onto the masterpiece of Lost Odyssey. Nobuo Uematsu, known mostly for his work on the Final Fantasy series, produces yet another emotion-provoking composition. As aching, tired, and tragic as protagonist Kaim (and his life), Lost Odyssey’s soundtrack fits the narrative like few other games have been able. Each set piece and character is accompanied with music that adds levels of characterization and atmosphere all on its own (Sakaguchi and Uematsu, in tandem, continue to make some special experiences).
In all, Lost Odyssey serves as a reminder that great games still exist and can grace our consoles (as we’ve seen with 2016 greats like Uncharted 4, for example). It’s a game that holds true to the test of time, and it far surpassed the majority of last gen experiences. If one can overlook some of the quirks of its presentation and occasionally iffy dialogue (which is ironic, since the short stories were fantastic), then one should be able to see why Lost Odyssey is still held in fairly high esteem.
You can read our review of Lost Odyssey here, so if you’re on the fence of going back in time – take a look.