May 14, 2008

Lost Odyssey, Part 3

Story (& Characters):
I guess there's not a whole I can say about this without spoiling things, but I'll say what can be said. If you've seen any of the promotional material you'll know that the story centers around a man named Kaim who's lived for a thousand years, and to all appearances is immortal. The catch is, he doesn't have any memories past maybe 10-20 years ago - no...that's not familiar at all.

The story eventually boils down to a fairly standard "save the world" tale, not from impending doom but from the machinations of a villain - who should be fairly obvious early on. In spite of this, it still made me mist up in at least two places. How did a standard save the world story manage to do this?

One word: relationships. In almost every regard, the relationships between the members of your party are solid. Yes, there are several children who can be annoying at times, but they're kids - what did you expect? There are several love stories being told here, but none of them takes precedence over the entire story. Their importance is powerful throughout but it's not overpowering. The key is that these people are tied to the world they inhabit strongly (by cables like steel, you might say). The only problem I have with this is that the game has a very bad, in my opinion, pop song for its love theme.

An addition to the game beyond the standard RPG methods of story-telling are the "Thousand Years of Dreams" that you can experience throughout the game. These are purely optional mini-novellas that give you insight into the past of Kaim, as these dreams are triggered by encountering events similar to something that happened during the nearly 1000 years that he doesn't remember. There are only four "mandatorily" unlocked ones, but if you find you don't like them, you never have to read any of them. Of course, as should be obvious from the gameplay review, there's more than one immortal in your party by the end of the game, and 2 of them also have dreams - the only ones that are relevant to the story.

There's also some rather extraordinary comic relief in the form of the first mortal member of your party, Jansen. As I said above, it's hard to say anything about the characters, but just watch Jansen - he's a real standout, both in scripting and voicing. In fact, based on what I've read of the voice actor's postings on GameFAQs' Lost Odyssey forums, a good deal of what makes Jansen so funny in the localization is his improvisation of the translated lines.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the final portion of this exercise in review: Graphics & Sound.