So back in the day when I had a 360 I decided to get a used copy of Lost Odyssey. I grew up playing Secret of Mana and Lufia so it should've been right up my alley. But life happened and I never really got very far into the game. It didn't even cross my mind for a decade until I discovered it on sale just last week, upon which I decided to download it.
When I started it up I didn't even remember anything about the game other than two scenes that happen in the game's first hour: the battle in the beginning and the scene at the gates of Uhra. Shows how far I probably got into it. And then – basically out of nowhere – this game I bought on a whim completely blew me away. It has its flaws – ho-hum balancing, floaty controls – but honestly, it's one of the best JRPGs if not one of the best RPGs I've ever played.
In case you didn't know, Lost Odyssey was developed by Mistwalker, the company of Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, with art design by mangaka Takehiko Inoue and an absolutely stellar soundtrack by Nobuo Uematsu. These are veterans obviously, and LO is a very rare case of a JRPG not feeling like a stew of assorted anime tropes. It feels more grounded and, for lack of a better term… mature?
Without wanting to spoil anything, the story is centered around a handful of immortals that get embroiled in political intrigue and all manners of other shenanigans. Gameplay-wise it's very much a classical turn-based JRPG in the tradition of Final Fantasy with random encounters and lots of vases to probe (the game's terminology, not mine).
But the game also offers a completely optional side feature called A Thousand Years of Dreams, which is a collection of short stories that come up whenever the amnesiac main character, Kaim, witnesses something that reminds him of his past experiences. And to say it in the words of Sakura Sojiro – hoo boy. These offer some of the best writing I have ever seen in a video game, period. More than once they made me cry ('Don't forget me now, you hear?' being an excellent example if you're curious) and even though they're mostly disconnected from the main story and serve mostly as a way to flesh out the literal thousand years of the protagonist's back story, they are just so good they alone make the game worth playing.
Excuse me ranting but honestly, if you're interested in storytelling and old-schoolsy JRPGs, check it out. Sadly it's an Xbox exclusive which probably didn't help its sales and recognition, but at least you can play it on Xbone and SX/SS now, like I'm doing. In Germany it's on sale for like 6 bucks right now.
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