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April 2024

One Piece Odyssey

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: ILCA, Inc.
Release Date: Jan. 13, 2023


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PS5 Review - 'One Piece Odyssey'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Jan. 16, 2023 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

One Piece Odyssey is a new RPG with turned-based combat set in the One Piece universe, with original story and new characters.

Buy One Piece Odyssey

"One Piece" is a cartoon series that just seem custom-made for a JRPG. You have a large cast of varied characters who are usually adventuring and fighting together. Heck, you even have a built-in healer with Tony Tony Chopper! The cast hasn't had any true RPG adventures until this point, despite the franchise basically being one step away from feeling like a Dragon Quest game. That is why One Piece Odyssey is an interesting twist for the long-running series. The first true stand-alone RPG for the Straw Hats, it finally gives that long-awaited genre mash-up a try.

One Piece Odyssey is set at an unsure amount of time before the crew's adventures in Wano. The Straw Hats are sailing peacefully one day when they come across the mysterious island of Waford. An attack leaves them shipwrecked, and the crew is stranded until they can fix it. Things take a bad turn when a mysterious girl appears. As soon as she touches a member of the Straw Hats, they lose their powers and memories, leaving them helpless and vulnerable. Their only hope is to venture through Waford and the Memory Worlds, to re-collect their memories and discover Waford's secret. Each Memory World is built from the Straw Hat's memories, so some of their greatest allies and worst foes are going to be along for the trip.

While the game adds some twists, it's a bit disappointing that the story goes back to previous One Piece storylines despite being hyped as an original RPG. It's fun to play a slightly adjusted RPG version of some of the franchise's most popular arcs, but it would've been neat to see Luffy and his friends in a brand-new adventure instead of what amounts to a fancy clip show. It also doesn't take into account the absurdly long Wano arc that just wrapped up, so don't expect to see some more recent favorites. Likewise, it means that Jinbe isn't considered an official part of the crew yet, though he does appear in cameo form.

One Piece Odyssey's gameplay feels familiar. You explore various areas of both Waford and the land of memories, both of which take the form of dungeons that you can roam freely. Each member of the Straw Hats has distinct powers and gimmicks that you can use by swapping between them. Luffy can use stretchy arms to grab distant objects, Zoro can cut down steel doors, Nami can find extra money, Sanji can find cooking ingredients, and new skills are unlocked as you progress. These skills are more like keys than anything that naturally flows into the game, but it's a nice way to make all of the Straw Hat members feel relevant.

Exploration is important because it's the primary way to find Cubes, which represent the Straw Hat's lost skills and memories and are necessary for regaining access to the skills and powering them up. Most cubes can be slotted into certain abilities to upgrade their level. Rare ones can return entirely new sets of abilities and make your characters more powerful. You'll also find equippable items that boost stats and regular consumable items. It's generally worthwhile to poke around and see what you find because it lets you bring Luffy's Gum-Gum Gatling to the next level.

Odyssey's combat system is a standard JRPG system with a twist. As is the standard for the genre, you and foes take turns beating the crap out of each other until one falls. It is technically turn-based in an interesting way. You can select any four of your active party members to attack at any given time, but once they do, they are done for the turn. Enemies have gauges that build with each action taken and take their turn when their gauge is full. This means that clever targeting can take out enemies before they attack. You can also swap party members during any character's turn.

The game has the standard elemental damage and status effects, but it also adds two new gimmicks. Characters and attacks are defined as Power, Speed or Technique. Powerful characters beat speedy characters, who beat technique-focused characters in a damage triangle. Most attacks are defined by the character who uses them, and characters tend to have very specific roles. If you want to beat a speed enemy, you'll need to bring in Sanji, but Nami's speed can allow her to overcome a technique enemy. It's a nice encouragement to use all members of the Straw Hats instead of sticking with a few favorites.

Each combat zone is set up with multiple areas, with each area able to contain one or more characters. Character attacks come in single target and AoE flavor but also have short- and long-range attacks. If someone is in the same area as an enemy or enemies, their short-range attacks can hit, but they're also at more risk of taking damage from those enemies. Long-range attacks can hit anywhere but tend to have less punch than their close-range brethren. As long as enemies are in an area, you can't escape it, so you need to balance risk and reward. You can also knock enemies around and into different areas, allowing you to lock down scary foes with beefier party members, while your Ussops and Namis pelt them with damage from a distance. It's not overly complex, but it adds some flavor to the game.

Occasionally, you'll also get dynamic scenes, which are spontaneous objectives. They can be anything from healing a character by a certain amount to defeating all enemies in a specific area before a powerful attack goes off. Complete the objective successfully, and you'll usually get a reward, like a stat boost or an item. Fail, and there's usually some negative consequence, such as a vulnerable character facing a dangerous attack. It's a nice spin on combat because it requires you to balance priorities and figure out the most effective way to help a vulnerable ally.

The combat system is fun enough, but it takes a while to get going. After the initial arc, where you start with high-level characters with a variety of moves, you're quickly thrown back to basics, and it takes a long while for characters to feel like themselves again. Even when they do, it's a bit of a gamble how well they convey the character's personality and flavor. Ussop feels spot-on; he has a lot of moves that apply status effects, and some can cause "easily tricked" enemies to faint (he tricks them with one of his giant inflatable hammers). Zoro feels a bit samey, since most of his moves do the same thing at different ranges.

"Fun enough" is the best way to sum up One Piece Odyssey. It does everything fine without hitting any home runs. The combat system is fun but feels like something that could be great in a sequel if they learn lessons from this one. The storytelling is cute and full of stuff for fans, but it doesn't do anything that other One Piece games haven't, aside from the RPG combat. Exploration feels like it underutilizes the diverse set of skills the Straw Hats bring to the table. Taken on its own merits, it's a fairly standard JRPG with a One Piece coat of paint, but that paint might be all that fans need.

Graphically, it looks quite nice, with well-rendered 3D models that do a great job of capturing the cartoony art style of the anime and manga. It isn't anything that can be mistaken for actual animated footage, but it conveys the look and feel well enough that I can't imagine fans being disappointed. The music and voice acting are also very true to the show. The game isn't dubbed but it's hard to imagine many "One Piece" fans who aren't used to the Japanese cast. The game runs relatively well, especially in Performance mode, but it does have too many "loading into cut scenes" for its own good. The game loves to throw cut scenes after walking two or three steps, so the title has a fairly slow pace.

One Piece Odyssey is a nice RPG for fans of the franchise. It's clearly crafted with a lot of love, and there's a ton of great banter and interaction between the cast members. The core gameplay is perfectly serviceable, but it never really reaches the realm of "great," and it takes a bit too long to get going. It's probably not going to attract the attention of anyone who isn't a big "One Piece" fan, but for those fans, it should be an enjoyable little RPG. At the end of the day, how much fun you'll have boils down to how much you enjoy punching bad pirates in the face with your favorite pirates, and there's a whole lot of folks who want just that.

Score: 7.5/10

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