One Piece Odyssey: Game Review
For 25 years, One Piece has captured the hearts of anime/manga lovers all over the world. It’s the top-selling manga and longest-running shonen anime of all time.
With the new gaming title gracing our streams, One Piece Odyssey attempts to retell four major One Piece story arcs in an ambitious Japanese-style RPG format. Odyssey is an expressive and dedicated portrayal of the classic anime series that does a fantastic job of letting each character shine.
One Piece Odyssey sees the Straw Hats make for one hell of a party of RPG characters; Eichiro Oda’s one-of-a-kind art style lends itself well to filling the world with fantastical and amusing creatures; and the over-the-top nature of battles from the actual manga and anime story. Let’s review how the new title follows through in the article ahead.
One Piece Odyssey sees the Straw Hat Pirates led by Monkey D Luffy, their master of rubber and consumer of meat, shipwrecked on a mysterious island called Waford. The island is inhabited by Colossi and other mysterious creatures alongside two original characters for the game.
Here, the gun-wielding Adio and the jug-carrying, pirate-hating world of mystery Lim, cross our paths, who steals the Straw Hat’s abilities and spreads them around the island in the form of cubes. Luffy and the Straw Hats have to follow the quest of solving the mystery of Waford, win over the mysterious Lim, and get off the island while the Marines are slowly catching up to them.
Within the storyline, Luffy and Co are expected to go into giant “memory cubes”, where the cast experiences a soft re-telling of 4 main arcs in the One Piece series: Alabastre, Water 7, Marineford, and Dressrosa. These sections aren’t direct retellings but do cover some of the main events within the story. It’s not the most ideal way to experience any of them if you have no prior knowledge.
What One Piece Odyssey presents is a mix of an original story with story recaps of main events. The retelling of the arcs is presented in a strange way. Overall the narrative in this title is doable if you’re already a fan of the franchise.
It has all the same kind of banter between the characters you would expect with Zoro and Sanji clashing heads non-stop, Nami being obsessed with wealth, Usopp just being the absolute legend that he is, and Brook just being Brook.
Graphics, Animation & Audio
One Piece Odyssey does a fantastic job of capturing the look and feel of the manga effectively. The character sketch looks vibrant, the animation is clean and their expressions are spot on, along with the goofy slapstick kineticism that defines One Piece’s style of action and character art.
Combat animations are particularly well done, with Luffy’s rubber-limbed smackdowns, Usopp’s comical sniper techniques, and Robin’s strangely sensuous multi-limbed combat submission. It looks dynamic and feels authentic to the source material. The interactions between the characters are also in line with what fans of the series have come to expect.
The Straw Hats banter and bicker with each other as you explore the various environments, adding a good dose of charm and goofiness to the proceedings. Their personalities thoroughly shine through as one can expect. However, the audio dialogue is limited to Japanese only, and there is no option for an English localisation, which is something to keep in mind if you’re a dub fan.
While exploring the game, you can swap characters and use their unique abilities to get through obstacles, sling across gaps, and find hidden items like cooking ingredients. Each character has one or more unique field abilities: Luffy can stretch and grapple, Usopp can shoot at specific targets, Zoro can cut through certain barriers, and Chopper is small enough to go through small tunnels.
While this adds some enjoyable variety, the frequent need to interrupt exploration to go into a sub-menu and choose a new leader to use their skills is a bit of an annoyance. Still, the solid visual presentation and the constant crew chatter combined with all the exploration abilities make field travel enjoyable enough.
Gameplay & Combat
However, when it comes to combat, the smoothness starts to slip up. Battles are presented in a traditional turn-based format, though, unlike many turn-based games, characters can act in any order and be freely swapped in/out without penalty during the phase. This gives you a very strong competitive combat advantage right off the bat.
When you’re choosing which enemies to target, there’s a Fire Emblem-style rock-paper-scissors system in play where characters are affiliated with one of three combat types that grant damage advantages and disadvantages over other types: power beats speed, speed beats technique, technique beats power.
There’s an added twist in the gameplay where, upon battle commencement, characters are randomly assigned to different areas wherein restricting which enemies they can attack. As a player, you can’t target enemies outside of your area with normal attacks, unless all your foes in your area are KO’d. Depending on character and abilities you may be able to affect enemies in another area with a special technique.
The presentation of the battles also makes it difficult to tell at a glance how many enemies there are and which zone they’re in, leading to targeting mistakes and resulting annoyances. It’s not a terrible combat engine, but it’s easily exploitable to the point that it becomes unengaging, and an annoying interruption.
You can also set up powerful Bond Arts that require specific team members to be on-field without much hassle, further trivialising many combat scenarios. Some side-quests, such as the Memory Link quests that unlock Bond Arts, restrict the crew members you can use, which makes things much more interesting.
One Piece Odyssey hands out copious amounts of EXP for completing simple, random challenges such as “beat this enemy in one turn,” so you level up quickly if you’re engaging in combat.
Levelling up grants stat boosts only, as you only acquire combat techniques after reaching set points in the story. Although, those quickly-accumulating stats can make a huge difference, even if the overall character growth is rather limited.
One Piece Odyssey works well as each character is given a chance to shine, in a way that is specific to their trait (based on the manga), echoing the themes of friendship and teamwork that have made One Piece an all-time classic anime and manga.
Fundamentally, it strives to do little more than tick off all the checkboxes of what players expect from the genre: side quests, crafting, cooking, fan service, and so on. Attaching the One Piece license to it results in expectations that are maybe partially met. Ultimately, the Straw Hats are as delightful as ever to be around.