May 14, 2008

Lost Odyssey, Part 2

Gameplay (cont.):

Equipment in Lost Odyssey is fairly sparse. Each member of your party can generally only have three things equipped at once, two of which are of only moderate quality to your casters: a weapon, a ring, and an accessory (though two of the mortals in your party eventually learn the ability to wear more than one accessory, thus making them far more useful than the other mortals). Rings only work for melee attacks and only a few special weapons affect your caster's spells in any way.

One thing that separates Lost Odyssey from other jRPGs is the way it handles leveling. Every level takes exactly 100 experience points to gain (similar to FFVIII's 1000 exp), but each area has a soft level cap. This means that up until you reach the level appropriate to beat the area's final boss, you gain levels quickly - to the point that under-leveled party members will gain a level a battle - but after you hit that appropriate level, the experience ramps down quickly. You'll always get at least 1 point a monster or battle (I can't remember which), but that won't get you very far very quickly. You also gain the skill points from combat, which aren't affected by the level cap.

Which brings me along to skills and the division between mortals and immortals in your party. Mortals learn skills as they level, for the most part, and are stuck with whatever skills they naturally have and whatever skill(s) they receive from their currently equipped accessory. Immortals, however, can learn skills from both mortals and accessories in a manner similar to FFIX's skill system. You learn skills from accessories by equipping them and fighting with them until you're finished learning. Getting skills from mortals is similar, but you have to choose which of the mortal's skills you wish to "link" with and then have that mortal in your combat party until you've finished learning the skill. Skills give you the ability to use the various levels of magic, equip certain special classes of items, prevent casting knockback and improve casting times, and even allow you to equip more skills.

You'll notice I mention mortals and immortals as members of your party. Because of the way they handle skills they're very different beasts. Generally speaking the mortals are physically weaker than your immortals as well - to the point that you have to revive mortals in combat, but immortals will actually revive automatically after a few turns. This doesn't mean you should use them, and use them well, though. In fact, as a warning to anyone picking up the game after reading this should be warned: keep your mortals leveled up. There's one stretch of game where the party is split up into four groups, including a 2 mortal pair. Given what I said above, though, you shouldn't find it too hard to do so.

One other warning and possibly a down note for potential players. Odds are pretty good that the hardest boss fights in the game are actually the first two real bosses in the game. Make sure you've picked up all the available skills and get a good grasp of the GC mechanic.

Looks like no story this time, so story next time!