I first played this in 2009 and coming back to it now was like a shot of nostalgia straight into the veins. Lost Odyssey is a classic JRPG with Turn Based Combat and it truly evokes the sensation of playing a PlayStation 1 era Final Fantasy.
The approach to this story is unlike anything I had ever seen: Yes, it’s all about stopping a big bad guy from taking over the world, but the focus here is on a group of immortals and how they fit into the world. They do not age and can’t be killed so the antagonist of the game, Gongora, has instead given them amnesia (admittedly this is a trope we’ve seen plenty of times)
We start the game with Kaim, who is used as a puppet by Gongora. Unfortunately for the big bad, Kaim slowly regains his memory as the story goes on, some of which happens via “A Thousand Years of Dreams”. Amazingly well-written short-stories that give glimpses into his past and show his unique view as an immortal on our mortal lives.
Family plays an important role in this game and since first playing this I’ve gotten a daughter myself, which has made the second time around a new kind of emotional experience. It’s not long into the game that you are met with your daughter, who looks to be about the same age as you, and only moments later she dies and you have to arrange her funeral. Your party is then even joined by your two young grandchildren, Mack and Cooke. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions! Later on in the game you meet Sed, the 60-something looking son of another immortal in your party. Having him call her “Momma!”, while he looks at least twice her age, was a welcome comedic relief.
To go back to the Final Fantasy analogy; most of the gameplay elements have a lot in common with it: The menus, the music by Nobuo Uematsu (which is typically breathtaking), the setting… Heck, even the magic system uses a similar suffix naming convention as Fire/Fira/Firaga have become Flare/Flara/Flarus. You also have the random encounters that were so typical for them. Playing this in 2017, you realise how Modern RPGs spoil us; showing enemies on the map or allowing the player to set an encounter rate (eg: Bravely Default, Final Fantasy X remake)
Luckily there are some unique, positive twists that help set it apart: Your melee attackers can equip rings, which grant additional damage or bonus effects when you time the release of the RT button just right.
What’s also interesting is the skill system: your immortal characters can only learn skills from equipping accessories or by learning them from your mortal party members. Which all adds up to a deep RPG system. There is also plenty to do in the game beside the main plot, as the game is loaded with side-quests and all kinds of collectibles. (To my disappointment, none of this carried over into a New Game +, instead it only gave me a head start with lvl 50 immortals.)
Graphically the game is no push-over; the CG movies, animations (though I miss the typically over the top FF summons and limit breaks) and character models hold up very well to this date. (Though I could have done without seeing the veins in Queen Ming’s boobs)
Lastly, the major gripe people had with this game at release were the long load times. (This was before it could even be installed to the Xbox 360 HDD) These have all but disappeared if you are playing the BC version on your Xbox One! It’s a game changer and I’m curious what other games will benefit from this.
I recently played Final Fantasy XV and while I liked it a great deal, it doesn’t hold a candle to the feel-good, old-school JRPG nostalgia trip that Lost Odyssey provided. So my conclusion is this; give last gen games a shot again, even if it’s on your current Gen Console.
you can vote on Twitter which BC game I should review next
EDIT: Mass Effect will be next!