Aug 052009
 

Final Status: ~3/4 complete, and that’s it for me

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Most intriguing idea: Subverting some boss battles into a game of protecting your putative opponent.

Best design decision: The ring system alleviates many of the attentional problems that come with the limited interactivity of round-based combat.

Worst design decision: The irritatingly high proportion of idiot mazes in the dungeons.

Summary:

Lost Odyssey is a fairly interesting tale about an immortal, amnesiac (ugh), vaguely effeminate (hruagh) man named Kaim who is trying to find his family and prevent a cruel, selfish sorcerer from conquering the other cruel, selfish rulers of the world. The game has several good ideas built in it — in addition to those mentioned above, I liked its skill system and the lightly-interactive text stories that reveal Kaim’s life story. The score was also pleasant. The key issue is that the flow of the game is constantly broken up by loading screens and long battle introductions. This is a particular problem on the third disc, where the party is split up into 3-4 groups and long pauses for loading seem to occur every 30 seconds. The delays get to be quite frustrating, especially in timed sequences where the countdown continues as you engage in a meaningless survey of the completely non-interactive battle space. Penalizing the player for the developer’s delays is kind of insulting, an emotion accentuated by idiot mazes such as the Prototype Staff, where shallow cart tracks somehow become an impenetrable barrier blocking Kaim’s path. Eventually I got to a point where I just wasn’t willing to put up with the crap anymore.

If you can’t say something nice… Lost Odyssey shows off a number of really sharp decisions, which might have made it a classic if someone had come up with a way to cut out the dead time.

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