Creating games is a hard job at the best of times, but it must be a behemoth challenge when you are tasked with crafting a game based on a HUGELY popular series. You not only have to deliver a solid game, but also please a legion of often die-hard fans. It’s a challenge that Japanese developers ILCA (who are best known for its Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl remakes) have grabbed with both hands with their latest title One Piece Odyssey which… as the name hints, is based on the legendary manga series. To their credit they may have just pulled it off, creating an RPG that does enough to keep hardcore fans interested, while all the time having a low enough bar of entry that fans of the series (that may not be gaming minded) will have a good time as well.
One Piece Odyssey’s tale is a real slow burner that takes more than a few hours to really kick in. It starts off with series hero – Monkey D. Luffy and his Straw Hat Pirates, marooned on an island and focusing on finding a way to fix their ship. They soon find a power guardian when exploring the island, it’s also where you meet Lim – a young woman who has more to play in the tale than you may expect – as well as having a few interesting secrets you’ll have to uncover along the way. As is the way of things, the crew have also lost their powers at the start of the tale, bar a few power moves , so along with the core story your main driving force is getting your powers back by defeating a number of guardians, all the while looking to bag some treasure as well (you’re pirates after all).
Bit of a disclaimer… I am far from a One Piece fan with only a light knowledge of things, so I found the tale to be interesting, as well as good at filling in on the blanks of who and why along its run time. This is also helped by there being a number of missions that let you visit past adventures of the gang, which feel like not only a bit of fan service but also a nice way of handling the series lore for newcomers. Gameplay is split in the RPG way between main missions and multi-tiered side missions, it’s fair to say go beyond run of the mill fetch quests… thankfully. There are also bonding events where you have to help your crew out on missions, which will reward you with a special bond attack when you complete them. But if you just want to do a bit of exploring you can. You’ll find dungeons, hidden bosses and plenty of towns and the like to explore. Though beware the game will force you at points to do missions by limiting your ability to explore at times, though this is mainly in the games early hours.
When not exploring you’ll be doing battle and on the whole the battle system is interesting, though maybe set a little bit on the easy side – which is a pain as you can’t change it up if you’re looking for more of a challenge. You can even set it to auto-battle, so you never get your hands dirty, though if you’re getting stuck in, it’s a turn based affair over a grid system, where you take turns as each member of your party and it’s as you would expect if you have played a turn based RPG in the past. In an interesting move you can sometimes find a battle within the battle – where you have to defeat a special enemy with a certain character and if you do so, you will bank an extremely healthy amount of XP. These fights happen more often than you expect, so it sees you levelling up at a very good rate, meaning only bosses will really offer a real challenge. This is where you’ll find the item and equipment system comes into its own and is where you start to find a bit of hidden depth to the combat.
Visually the game looks great and like the show come to life, with all the signature characters looking the part and the same can be said for the world and enemies within it, everything pops with colour and a real manga vibe. Audio wise the game has a LOT of spoken lines, but worth noting there’s no English dub. All dialogue is in Japanese with English subtitles. Whereas the soundtrack often just ticks away in the background until it’s needed to step up and really get going. One Piece Odyssey is a solid RPG that brings a much loved series to life in a new way. With a tale that’s core is all about friendship and how far you’re willing to go for it, perfectly mirroring the series. It’s extremely accessible, though maybe a little too easy for seasoned RPG fans, but ultimately it’s a One Piece adventure everyone can and should enjoy.
An Xbox review copy of One Piece Odyssey was provided by Bandai Namco’s PR team, and the game is out now on Xbox, PlayStation and PC for around £60.