Iíve only heard of Ragnarok Online down the media pipeline over the years and from what Iíve read itís pretty popular. While I havenít played that title, I recently got the chance to play Ragnarok Odyssey for the PlayStation Vita. This action filled adventure takes place in the same universe as the MMO but is geared towards shorter play sessions. Iíve had plenty of experience with the RPG genre and Ragnarok Odyssey is familiar on a number of levels.
The story of Ragnarok Odyssey such as it is follows the kingdom of Rune Midgard who has one heck of a problem. Humanity is at arms with a race of giants from a place known as the Sundered Lands. The giants arenít the Jolly Green Giant variety either as they have already caused ruin and massive losses at life across the kingdom. Itís up to a massive fort wall fitted with cannons and you the newest adventurer to protect the kingdom.
I got a very strong reminder of console titles like PSO and Monster Hunter when I loaded up Ragnarok Odyssey for the first time and dived into a few quests. Before you can even do that you have to setup you first character and choose one of six different jobs that suits your style of play. You can choose to do some up close and personal damage with the Sword Warrior or the punishing Hammersmith. If quick and nimble is your choice then the Assassin is the way to go and my first choice for this review.
I also played around with ranged classes like the Mage which is excellent for all out magical damage. The Hunter class is also a great choice for deadly long ranged attacks including an attack that rains arrows from the sky. The Cleric job however is one of the most useful classes in the game. What it definitely lacks in offensive power its makes up with an amazing defense and a worthy to any online team. One thing that sets Ragnarok Odyssey apart is the uncanny ability to stay suspended in the air for extended periods of time as you wail on your unsuspecting foes. Every character can perform this ability and it really comes in handy when tackling the giant bosses.
I was really impressed with the developerís choice to use the Vitaís hardware (physical buttons) to do practically everything in the game. RPGs of this nature are all about quick and often extensive bouts of button mashing so Iíd rather not destroy the touchscreen in the process. Luckily the touchscreen is used minimally along the edges for the consumption of potions, activation of the powerful and double-edged Dainsleif Mode and map tweaking. If you take Ragnarok Odyssey online with up to 3 other people you can communicate non-verbally with emoticons and symbols with the use of the quick touchscreen menu. Surprisingly there is no voice chat so youíll have to coordinate as best as possible online or locally via ad-hoc.
The story is progressed through quests that have you visiting different locations to defeat monsters or collect required items not unlike PSO. At first they start off relatively easy, where you are given a half hour to take out so many enemies. This is actually more than enough time for even a solo run but there are times were you are only given 15 minutes to get to a boss and defeat him. Time isnít the only factor in quests as defeats affect the payout or more importantly the fail/clear status on a quest. You are given 3 lives per quest but you should also make use of Ragnarok Odysseyís other features to help you out if you plan on getting very far in the game.
No matter what job class I chose the important thing that I had to remember is that Ragnarok Odyssey has no character levels. Unlike most RPGs, including PSO, you gained experience for defeats and quest completions. Here itís not just about the playerís skill but in the gear theyíre using. Each class has their own outfit to call their own but these armors actually provide nothing more than skin coverage at first. Ragnarok Odyssey uses items in the form of Cards to provide stat boosts and skills as well.
For instance you can equip a particular card to add poison damage to your weapons but at the cost of a lowered maximum HP. You can always add other cards to a point that could potentially offset that disadvantage however. You do have to use some strategy when using cards however as you outfit can only hold so many cards thanks to a cardís slot cost. Some cards only use 1 slot but the rarer the card the more slots it may take up. You can upgrade you outfit for a cost to accept more cards throughout the game however. I also love that you can add little items to your characters such as a pair of glasses or a knightís helm to add a bit of a personal touch to your character. Doing this requires that you have the required resources to make them and the same goes for refining weapons which is not as easy it might seem.
Refining weapons or making accessories is done by collecting the resources while out on quest. While you can look at the list of requirements at the shops you unfortunately are not given any indication as to where you can find said items. You basically have to be lucky that you find it in the many trips youíll make to the various locations or hope you are even luckier to be in the right area to find it. Thatís probably one of the only faults that I really have with Ragnarok Odyssey.
I love RPGs and one of the reasons for that is their audio. The role-playing genre in all its forms has had some great scores over the years. Ragnarok Odyssey does feature some decent fantasy fanfare thought itís not something that Iíll probably remember down the line. However there were a few pieces that I swear were vaguely familiar though that could just be my imagination at work. Ragnarok Odyssey also features some solid sound effects when it comes to the combat. The Vitaís speakers deliver crisp sword slashes and thunderous hammer strikes with precision that sounds even better when wearing earphones when youíre out and about.
Graphically, Ragnarok Odyssey is quite impressive on the Vitaís OLED screen. The developers were able to pull of pretty sharp visuals despite some parts lacking depth like tree foliage. The character models look great and with over 20,000 different options available youíll probably never find a doppelganger throughout your adventure. Ragnarok Odyssey will instantly come off as a game that might not take itself serious with the various heavily anime inspired hairstyles and funky hats but thatís part of the charm. Most of the environments found in Ragnarok Odyssey are beautifully created though not quite as good as the opening video before the title screen. The level of CGI detail in that video was amazing on the Vitaís screen and I only wished the game looked more like that.
Ragnarok Odyssey is an enjoyable as a single player experience with its ups and down but like its MMO counterpart its better played with others. You can actually play the game in its entirety with up to three other players. Be it with some of your best friends as you hang out or with some complete strangers while at your local haunt via Wi-Fi, there is plenty of multiplayer fun to be had. Ragnarok Odyssey already has a pretty decent community base established in the short time that itís been out and I didnít have any trouble finding a party or someone willing to join my own. There are a number of parameters that you can select from to find a group thatís within your given story progression or restrictions that you can activate such as only playing with people on your PSN Friends List. I also liked the fact that while playing online with a number of groups that I experienced very little lag and never had a disconnected server which was fantastic.
Ragnarok Odyssey is one of those games that I could sit and play for hours like I did with PSO. Games like this are best played with others and Iím happy to say that the online community and servers are not only populated but actually quite stable which is great for a Vita title. Ragnarok Odyssey blends a console quality experience with manageable portable sized quests that can easily be played on that lunch hour when youíre bored to death or when youíre killing time between classes for those students out there. If you like PSO or Monster Hunter then you have to check out Ragnarok Odyssey for the PS Vita.