The One Piece franchise spans many forms of media. From manga to anime, the series seems to know no end. The video game adaptations are no different as they take on a variety of genres, with some adding in original characters and storylines. In recent years, publisher Bandai Namco has been experimenting with grander adventures for the Straw Hat Crew, some of which didn’t always work. However, the most recent adventure to set sail, One Piece Odyssey, aims to deliver a unique and memorable experience to those yearning for an immersive One Piece experience.
Let’s direct our attention to the elephant in the room. One Piece Odyssey is an RPG. Players will encounter enemies and fight them through turn-based combat while leveling up skills and managing equipment, which is probably the most straightforward way I can describe the genre. However, the developers seem to consider that this might come with hesitation from fans as they have implemented some quality-of-life systems that streamline the base RPG features without negatively impacting what genre fans enjoy.
What’s most exciting about this approach to gameplay is the heavy focus on story and character interactions. I’ve come to expect this series to deliver more action experiences. Still, here, we can slow down just a little to focus on this game’s original storyline, which features original characters and some storylines from the manga. It’s not in your face, though, as characters have conversations about the mission while you explore environments alongside the more story-crucial character interactions.
Each character in your party also has a skill used to interact with the environment. For example, Luffy can stretch to reach new areas while Nami can find hidden treasure. These mechanics kept me actively exploring throughout dungeons to find secrets, which there was quite a bit of. After playing the opening hours, I also appreciated that the developers didn’t spend too much time retelling the pirates’ story but delivered some digestible interactions that fill you in case you aren’t caught up in the series.
There’s an excellent sense of discovery in dungeons and towns that rewards players who take their time. I wasn’t completely overwhelmed with information that bogged down the experience, but the battle system has some unique points. You’ll head into battle when encountering enemies, showing enemies grouped up across the field. Using skills, it’s possible to strategically group them up for more damage or complete a battle quest for extra experience.
During my time, though, gaining experience was never an issue. In fact, I often felt too strong facing off against grunt enemies, but the boss encounters did take a bit of strategy. Thankfully, it’s possible to switch to auto-battle and increase the battle speed to make encounters go quicker, but the skill animations are still fun to watch, even though they are pretty long.
As for boss battles, understanding what makes skills weaker and stronger against these enemies is necessary if you don’t want to be wiped out. On that note, I did feel like the game was taking it easy on me. There are side quests and optional character interactions that will provide buffs and items, but I wouldn’t mind if some of the later quests pitted you up against a more challenging foe.
Graphically, I thought One Piece Odyssey is gorgeously goofy. Each character takes on their iconic form and costume, with their voice actors bringing them to life. We were told the team spent time adding more voiced dialogue, which is always a plus in my book.
One Piece Odyssey offers an adventure that many fans have yet to experience. Delivering this through the RPG genre was a bold move, but one that will pay off as a memorable One Piece gaming narrative. The battle system is unique yet straightforward, and the world is begging to be explored; I couldn’t ask for more. Outside of the opening hours, there’s still much to discover, and I look forward to diving in and getting the most out of this pirate adventure.
One Piece Odyssey is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam on January 13, 2023.
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