There may be a lack of Monster Hunter games being announced for the PlayStation Vita stateside, but that has not stopped other developers from stepping up to fill the void. GameArts has decided to take a go at a Monster Hunter style game based in the universe of Ragnarok Online. The question is how are these two unique tastes when brought together? Do they become crazy delicious like Mr. Pibb and Red Vibe, or do they form some kind of deadly explosive like Mentos and Coke?
When it comes to a riveting story, Ragnarok Odyssey is a game that places a greater focus on its gameplay, and it shows with the very minimal story included. Players will start the game in a fort that must be held against giants, and the character being controlled is new to the mercenary company manning the fort. Quests occur on behalf of the Kingdom of Rune Midgard and there will be story moments that require the fort to be defended or monsters to be slayed. Also featured is the quirky kind of humor that appears in many JRPGs. The story is basic and works as a transitional piece for going from mission to mission, but it is not the reason to play the game.
The game takes many cues from Monster Hunter, which is evident in many aspects of how the game plays. Players will spend most of their time in a fort, which works as the main hub for the game. The hub works as a place where players can pick up quests to go on, purchase new equipment, talk to non player characters, and change equipment. Most of the story segments of the game will also occur in the hub.
The bulk of gameplay occurs once players take on quests. Quests require that players defeat a certain number of enemies or find a specified number of items. The problem is that both of these quests essentially end up being the same and require players to defeat enemy after enemy to complete the goal. This may be an issue for some gamers that find repetitive quests like this to become tedious after awhile. Things get more exciting when having to take on quests that require boss monsters to be defeated.
During missions, a large variety of monsters will be encountered aside from those required to be defeated to complete a mission. There are areas in map that lock players in until all enemies in the area are defeated. This is something that some players may find annoying during a mission as it can slow progress but many of the missions use these areas to help players complete quests. As more quests are unlocked, later quests reveal more segments of the map that keep things fresh and create an excitement to see what kind of area will be seen next.
Ragnarok Odyssey features a combo system with a ton of depth and variety for dispatching monsters in the game. Players will be able to perform quick and heavy attacks that can be chained in various ways to take on strong foes, large groups, and giants. Combos will allow enemies to be launched in the air where they can be juggled or knocked back to the ground to hurt near by enemies. The game really shines by having players trying to learn all the different combos available for each of the playable classes.
After defeating enough enemies, players can go into a trance mode that slow drains health but allows more damage to be done, and restores health when enemies are defeated. This ability proves useful in taking on bigger foes or clearing out large amounts of enemies quickly.
The combo system is just part of how the game plays, but the game also features a large amount of customization. Players are able to choose one out of six classes when a new game is begun. Each of the classes play very differently from each other. The Sword Warrior class is able to take on many foes and is the up close melee class. While the Hunter class uses bows to fight from a distance and keep enemies at range.
Another customization feature in the game is the talisman system, which essentially adjusts the stats for players. Armor has the capability to equip a certain amounts of talisman based on how many slots they occupy. These can be acquired from defeating enemies, purchased from shops, or acquired when new armor is purchased. The talisman are able to increase a variety of stats, provide new abilities, and increase resistances to negative statuses. Some also provide negatives, which will have players balancing between figuring out if the positives outweigh the negatives of a talisman.
Players will also be able to customize the look of their character in a variety of ways. The game features a large variety of armors that give different looks and stat bonuses, weapons that have different looks and abilities, the ability to change a character’s look at any time for a cost, and headgear that provides different looks but provide no stat bonuses. Aside from the combo system, some of the most fun comes from begin able to change the look of your character to stand out in battle.
Ragnarok Odyssey shows off all of its variety when teaming up with other gamers to perform various missions. Players can connect through online or ad hoc using the tavern in the game that acts as a hub for purchasing items before a quest and providing quests for parties of players to engage in. The quests are similar to their offline counterparts, which means there won’t be much in variety of questing. But the various combinations of classes being teamed up provide for unique combos that could only be pulled off with several classes. The game also features a variety of ways to communicate with other players that includes emotes and an onscreen keyboard.
In regards to game play, there are some gripes that come up here and there. One of the most annoying issues is that game’s camera that at times gets stuck at angles that makes action difficult to see when being swarmed by larger enemies. Some classes perform much better than others in single player, which can make you wonder what the purpose of the class is.
How does the game look and sound? The game is hit and miss in a few regards to both sound and graphics. The visuals for characters do not look to push the Vita very hard and character faces feel flat, which is emphasized with the zoom-ins on their face when talking to them. The interface does look good as do the areas and monsters in the game. From a sound perspective, the music fits the game and has a strong Celtic feel to it. Sadly the game consists of no spoken dialog and each character gives a grunt before their text bubbles appear, which feels awkward and not fitting to some characters.
Ragnarok Odyssey is somewhat of a mixed bag that gets a ton right but misses the mark in some ways. The game features loads of content and the gameplay keeps things fun for those playing offline and online. It features a combo system that has players working to figure out the combos that work best against the large amounts of varying enemies. Those looking for customization will definitely find their fill in this game as well. Each of the classes play very differently from each other, which give the game a unique feel and no one class feels the same. Players will also get a ton of satisfaction from taking out large enemies in some battles that can give an epic feeling at times.
The game also has its downsides that include a wonky camera and a lack of voice work. The quests may become tedious after awhile due to the lack of variety between since they break down to killing a bunch of monsters for each quest. Graphically the game will also not be pushing the Vita in some ways and characters leave much to be desired.
Ragnarok Odyssey is not a perfect game, but the pure joy that comes from juggling enemies in the air with three other gamers or customizing your character’s abilities and look provides a satisfaction that cannot be found in many Vita games at the moment.