Also On: PS3
Medium: Digital/Vita Card
It feels weird to describe a game that's barely two years old as "good for its time", but that's totally true of Ragnarok Odyssey. When it came to the PS Vita in 2012 (early in the year in Japan, late in the year in North America), the handheld wasn't exactly overflowing with games. In particular, there wasn't yet the flood of action RPGs vying for the Monster Hunter-shaped crown that had sustained the PSP in Japan for so many years. Ragnarok Odyssey may not have been great, but it stood out by default.
In the ensuing time period, it's fair to say that the bar has been raised — first last year by Soul Sacrifice, then more recently by Toukiden. Both far surpass Ragnarok Odyssey in almost every respect, which means that the game's sequel/update/expansion/complete edition, Ragnarok Odyssey ACE, gets held to a much higher standard than the original did first time around.
Considering the original was nothing special, it shouldn't come as much of surprise that ACE doesn't look better with competition. Basically, everything that came off as forgettably bland first time around is still forgettably bland here, too. Everything is rote: the gameplay, the story, the characters, the customization options. If you've ever played Monster Hunter or one of its imitators, then you'll know everything to expect here.
Actually, that's not totally true; there's one area in which Ragnarok Odyssey ACE shines, even if only a little. Specifically, the graphics are…bright. Shiny. Kind of upbeat. While this may not yield the kind of breathtaking screenshots you get from the likes of Toukiden or Soul Sacrifice, it's a nice change of pace. So many of these games seem to specialize in looking brown and subdued, so it's a breath of fresh air to have one that's not afraid to be a little colorful.
Of course, that doesn't make the gameplay any better. All it means is that you can see the generic action taking place in brighter, more vivid colors. And while I'm all for developers expanding their colour palettes a little, on the whole I'd much prefer it if the devoted their energies to making innovative gameplay. Otherwise…well, otherwise you just end up making Ragnarok Odyssey.