One Piece Odyssey Review

Being a fan of One Piece probably means that I was likely to either be extra-critical of its RPG adaptation or alternatively more lenient with a personal attachment to the characters. Now after having played One Piece Odyssey, I think I’m leaning on the “more critical” side. Odyssey is the first major turn-based RPG for the series, with the mega-hit Shonen manga more often adapted into action titles instead. I was pretty excited about this game, with my only concern being that the main development team ILCA, was largely only known for their support work and more recently the Pokemon Pearl and Diamond remakes which got a mixed reception. I haven’t minded their work on the Voice of Cards series, though.

The setup, and story overall, is pretty basic. Captain Luffy of the Straw Hat Pirates spots a strange island and demands they land there, before being pulled in by a storm. Shipwrecked, a strange girl called Lim separates the pirate crew from their powers, which is represented in this RPG framework by being set back to level one and having very few skills. The crew soon fights the island guardian Collossi and travels to Memoria, dream-like lands made out of their collective memories in order to regain their scattered powers. Though the events in these memories aren’t always exactly the same as what actually happened in the past.

In terms of where this story sits in the One Piece timeline, Odyssey is basically like most of the films - in that it isn’t actually canon and only exists somewhere between arcs where it could never make perfect sense. It at the very least is after Dressrosa, but based on some things Sanji says it could almost be after Whole Cake Island, if it weren’t for a missing crew member. For One Piece fans, you’d know that the crew temporarily splits up around that part of the story, so it technically doesn’t cleanly fit anywhere.

Personally, I find it difficult to recommend One Piece Odyssey to those who aren’t already fans of the series, and not just because it’s a mostly bland RPG. For those potentially interested in One Piece, Odyssey isn’t really a good way to get into it, because even if you don’t mind spoilers and knowing arc plot points well ahead of time, the minor differences that occur in Memoria may just well confuse you. Lim does view some slideshow-esque flashbacks to remind people of what happens during these stories, as each trip to Memoria only covers part of the events for each arc, but it’s not quite adequate for the uninitiated.

I found the combat to be mostly painless, and that’s primarily because it is quite basic. The battles use a paper-scissors-rock system with character types. Being at a type disadvantage means you’ll deal hardly any damage, and take quite a lot in return. However, you can freely switch your characters around their location on the battlefield (with some exceptions) and from the reserve party, without taking any penalty, so there’s absolutely no reason not to do so in order to take advantage of type weaknesses. The battles are split up into small groupings of your party and enemies, and in order to join another area, you’ll either need to clean up who's in front of you or use a long-ranged attack. There’s an option to change your formation which basically sets up the chances of characters being further away from enemies or closer to one another, but I hardly used it. One thing you’ll notice is that you can’t move back to freed-up areas, as they basically no longer exist. So the only strategy I really employed was during boss fights I tried to keep Chopper away from the boss for as long as I could.

Skills use technical points (TP) which are easily restored by using your basic attack. Of course, there’s also a small number of elements to which certain enemies may be resistant to, and a few status effects (with bleeding being the most annoying). Throughout combat encounters, you may be given a bonus objective, such as taking down a suddenly powered-up enemy before a party member faints, or taking them out with a specific character. Doing so gives you bonus exp but there’s no penalty for failing, which was good when it wanted me to use Brook to save Robin against an enemy he could barely scratch. I think the funniest of these is when you get bonus points just for healing a low HP party member. While that system does encourage you to do things differently, your strategy remains largely the same. There’s certainly no need to grind and eventually I eventually ended up skipping every other combat encounter.

Each character’s individuality is represented well within the combat system. Usopp is the only one able to do his basic attack from far away and Chopper is your only healer. In particular, Luffy can go into his second gear for three turns (though there’s not much other than TP stopping you from doing it again immediately) and Chopper can use Monster Point turning him into a massive tank, but then restricts him from using his healing skills. Almost every move characters use in the source material is eventually present in the game, and they are very well animated.

The boss fights are perhaps the biggest disappointment of Odyssey, effectively being merely slightly stronger enemies that don’t make you vary your tactics or have phases in the slightest. Unless a phase for you is fighting them halfway down, and then their health refilling with them now being slightly stronger. They’re also susceptible to items that reduce their defense, meaning the one tough encounter I had (partway through the game) was immediately diminished.

Outside of the combat, there’s some minor exploration and crafting systems (for equipment, food, and other items). There are also a few dungeons in game, offering some basic puzzles to solve. While exploring you’ll need to switch to Chopper to get through tight spaces, play as Usopp to shoot an item down, or switch to a character like Sanji who has spotted an extra ingredient. You’ll mostly run around as Luffy since he’s the only one who can grapple hook himself around certain spots in the world. Exploring is rather important, as within the world you’ll acquire character-specific cubes which are skill points, with further progression allowing you to level up more skills. Side quests are also pretty basic, but the bounty hunts can be a little fun as the enemies you fight style themselves after real villains the Straw Hats have fought before.

I found no issues running the game on my Playstation 5, barring one softlock (just after a save point). I did notice one odd thing in that when I missed an attack it would say “attack ineffective” even if I had used it before. The one time an attack was ineffective it said “miss”, so they were likely placed in the wrong spot, but that may easily confuse players at least momentarily. The equipment system is grid-based but there’s an auto-equip option allowing you to save yourself the trouble of trying to fit things in ideally. I did use the auto equip for defense option once and then the enemy I was facing could knock me out in one hit instead of two so I’m not sure how good the non-balanced options are.

The game looks pretty nice, easily fitting into the art style of the original material. Personally, I didn’t like how most of the new enemy creatures looked, but not everything in One Piece is made to look pretty. The 3D style made me think Nami looked a bit reminiscent of the Dead Island Riptide Special Edition bust (though less gory). Luffy’s eyes also didn’t adjust very well as a 3D model, looking just a bit odd. I’ve already mentioned the animations, but for One Piece fans, they are a real treat. Even if I do wish the fast-forward option was a bit faster. Robin gets her signature grab attack which is fun to witness, but even in her large attacks, you can see the multiple limbs turning into one giant one before landing the hit.

Of course, the dub cast of One Piece is behind the Japanese airing, so it’s perhaps no surprise this game doesn’t feature them as an option, nonetheless, it is disappointing. Outside of in-battle dialogue (such as enemies swearing on defeat), every other thing said is subtitled. One thing I really liked was the soundtrack, they aren’t quite of the playlist-worthy level, but I’m likely to listen to the tracks every so often. The songs all worked really well for the setting with the various instruments working well to add to the adventurous flair.

One Piece Odyssey unfortunately fits the “it takes twenty hours to get good” shoe, which for a just barely over forty-ish hour game, is not worth the effort. Asides from the introduction segment, the first Memoria you travel to is Alabasta, which consists of massive desert tracks and lots of backtracking. At almost any point where you have to backtrack, the game will disable fast travel. This whole adventure feels like it has a tonne of missed opportunities, especially when it comes to the use of crew members. Franky and Brook don’t join your party until very close to the end, meaning you miss out on getting their reaction to some places they haven’t been to. And in the cases of Robin in Alabasta, and Usopp in Water Seven they stay away from the party for most of that adventure, making the alternate experience not that different in the end. It also took a bit too long for the character’s personalities to shine through, but once it, did the team dynamic was present through every minor piece of dialogue.

I was also disappointed that certain moments were not made into cutscenes, or even playable segments. Such as one point where you save Princess Vivi it, merely tells you in text what you did. This especially agitating after all the time spent combing through the sand for minor things instead of playing what could have been a more fun rescue mission. Later on, these sorts of events shook things up a bit more, and there was one distinctly fun part (for a fan) in Dressrosa, and they just didn’t do enough of that.

Through the animations alone I can see there was a lot of care put into creating this game, with some serious attention to detail (even down to Sanji refusing to damage the sole female enemy in the game). But there are some very basic design decisions, especially regarding game progression that hamper the experience greatly. The backtracking continues throughout even all the way to the very end, to the point that I really wondered what the extra padding was for. I’m not even interested in the post-game quest of fighting tougher opponents since all the boss fights prior were so basic. The great cast just isn’t enough to not make certain parts of the game feel like a chore. For the One Piece fan who can handle a bit of tedium and lackluster bosses, I can recommend it, for anyone else I wouldn’t suggest it.