Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Gung Ho Entertainment/Game Arts
Medium: Vita Card/Digital
Ragnarok Online is one of those MMO’s that I never really got into, despite knowing a few people that seemed to really enjoy it. There wasn’t much about the design or style of the game that appealed to me, so it’s something that I’ve put off playing for some time. So maybe having no real appreciation of Ragnarok Online hinders my ability to enjoy Ragnarok Odyssey as much as others, but I really feel like Ragnarok Odyssey’s attempt to mimic what makes Monster Hunter so much fun feels incredibly hollow and insubstantial, and leads to a very underwhelming experience on the Vita.
Ragnarok Odyssey drops you into a world where a kingdom is at war with various monsters, and the giant variations that they spawn, which threaten to invade at various points in the game. In an order to stem this invasion, you’ll take on a series of missions that thrust you into the wilds surrounding the kingdom, and often task you with killing a certain number of monsters, or locating a certain number of goods that drop from fallen monsters.
You’ll have access to some limited character customization options from the start, where you’ll be able to alter skin tones, hair styles, voices, and so on. Pretty basic stuff really, and outside of hair styles I found the customization options to be limited. From there you can pick a starting class, consisting of a solid variety of familiar RPG types like Cleric, Hunter, Sword Warrior, Assassin, and so on. The classes are pretty well represented, stand out from one another, and are generally worth exploring to find one that works well for you. You’ll also gain the ability to switch freely between classes at an early point in the campaign, which I also thought was a plus.
Like the aforementioned Monster Hunter series from Capcom, a big part of Ragnarok Odyssey’s gameplay centers around killing monsters, gathering loot, and using that loot to craft new weapons, and to a certain extent new armor. Crafting feels particularly underwhelming; as most crafting is relegated to visiting in town shops and purchasing new weapons and armor provided you have the materials and money to do so. For weapons you can refine them with the right materials, strengthening that weapon ever so slightly every time it’s refined. For armor you can likewise expand it, allowing you to carry more stat enhancing cards, which serve to boost skills like attack, health, defense and so on.
It’s also incredibly tough to figure out what enemies drop what materials, and where those enemies spawn, without the use of some sort of guide. You’ll find your stash will constantly be filled with materials, but rarely will you find any of those materials to be of any real use to you. Typically the only materials you need are those that fall off of the larger, boss monsters you encounter, but so many of the early missions pit you against the smaller, minion style foes that you’ll find yourself quickly treading water when it comes to upgrades. The game picks up a bit in later chapters in this regard, offering up more challenging encounters with significant, meaningful foes, but a lot of that feels like it’s too little too late. I was completely bored with Ragnarok Odyssey by this point, and trudged through content just to be dutiful to this review.
On the plus side of things, the card mechanic that helps you enhance your skills seems like a good idea and at least gives you a glimmer of something to look forward to from loot runs. Again, you’ll find a lot of cards are complete trash, but every so often you’ll get a nice one, which helps an otherwise lackluster loot system. The ability to switch out these cards at will is nice, giving you a lot of customization options for your character, allowing you to outfit your role for each mission you take on.
Also, the online aspect of Ragnarok Odyssey is certainly worth a mention. The game supports both online and local play with up to 3 additional players. There’s no shortage of folks online playing, and for the most part picking up a game is a pretty painless experience. Like most online games, connecting with a user that has low connection strength leads to a slide show like mess when it comes to lag, but if you can get a solid group going, you’ll find that Ragnarok Odyssey’s fun grows exponentially.
In the end though, I found Ragnarok Odyssey to be a bit of a bore. I was looking forward to my first Monster Hunter clone on the Vita, but came away from this one with a pretty sour taste in my mouth. There are better alternatives if you’re willing to look backwards through the PSP library, and while the inclusion of working online play is a definite plus, there’s little else of note to be found here. If you’re a big fan of this particular sub-genre then you might find something to like, after all it’s not entirely without merit, but everyone outside of that group will likely want to stay away, this is hardly a shining example of what these games are all about.