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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

One Piece Odyssey in review: Millions have been waiting for a role-playing game like this – and rightly so?

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One Piece Odyssey does almost everything right in the implementation of the world-famous original. However, the gameplay drags on like rubber despite the open world.

Forgive the bad gag in the opening credits, but an allusion to the rubber abilities of the One Piece protagonist was just too obvious. Rubber not only fits Monkey D. Ruffy perfectly, but also the gameplay of One Piece Odyssey.

If you go by the Steam user ratings, the open-world role-playing game is a hit: 84 per cent of positive reviews are on the books, filled with effusive praise for the implementation of one of the world”s most famous series, loved by millions of fans.

One Piece Odyssey is a dream come true for fans and a great entry point for series newcomers. But the test shows: You have to turn a blind eye to it. Or wear an eye patch right away.

To give you a first impression of the role-playing game, we have recorded a short gameplay clip for you that shows the typical gameplay and the PC graphics:

A feast for fans

Developer ILCA combines elements of a classic Japanese role-playing game with the story of the anime in One Piece Odyssey. One Piece Odyssey interweaves four parts of the original – including the popular Alabasta arc – with the gameplay. In doing so, the makers take small liberties with the implementation of the plot.

(The Straw Hat Gang has to relive past memories during their adventure. A nostalgic trip to Alabasta is the first trip down memory lane.)
(The Straw Hat Gang has to relive past memories during their adventure. A nostalgic trip to Alabasta is the first trip down memory lane.)

The island of Waford provides the setting for the story. The Straw Hat Gang lands on it and shortly after their arrival they lose their abilities. To regain them, they have to defeat four colossi. These spit out dice that gradually give the crew back their abilities. In the process, they relive past memories – there is plenty of nostalgia here for series connoisseurs – with the help of new characters Lim and Adio.

The implementation of the original is the greatest strength of One Piece Odyssey. The style of the anime is lovingly done, the technique is flawless and the fan-favourite characters of the Straw Hat Gang are captured in a wonderfully charming way. It is fun from the start to listen to their dialogue and watch them interact. The original Japanese speakers play a big part in this, but unfortunately there is no German or English voice-over. Instead, there are German-language texts.

One Piece Odyssey provides a good summary of important plot points of the anime. So if you don”t want to catch up on 1,000 episodes or more than a hundred books, but you”ve already had first contact with One Piece, the game will give you a good start into the world of pirates. Provided, of course, that spoilers are not a problem.

(One Piece Odyssey captures the characters of the anime brilliantly.)
(One Piece Odyssey captures the characters of the anime brilliantly.)

Complete series newcomers, however, may have difficulty comprehending some character traits or emotions. Those who don”t like the overdrawn anime portrayal will even have a hard time getting into the game.

In particular, the portrayal of the female characters no longer seems contemporary and clumsy. At the beginning of the manga and the series, the proportions of Nami and Nico still looked different. The fact that this has changed both in the game and in the current episodes is something One Piece does not need. 

(Adio is one of the new characters created by series creator Eiichiro Oda especially for the game.)
(Adio is one of the new characters created by series creator Eiichiro Oda especially for the game.)

Boredom on deck

But at the beginning of One Piece Odyssey, patience is necessary. Because the beginning is anything but gripping and dynamic: we run with Ruffy or another member of his crew from one cutscene to the next. These are fun thanks to the successful staging, but the action loses pace.

The tutorial mission provides a perfect example. After the Straw Hat Gang is stranded, some members are missing. Ruffy and Co. set out to find Nami, who is in the clutches of a big gorilla. Along the way, we stumble into a cutscene or a fight seemingly every ten steps.

(Dice can be found in the game world, slowly restoring abilities to the pirate crew).
(Dice can be found in the game world, slowly restoring abilities to the pirate crew).

The actual boss fight compensates with an entertaining staging, but this sequence of events is repeated again and again in later main missions, so that the element of surprise is missing and boredom spreads throughout the 35 hours of gameplay instead.

You and which army?

The frequent battles tend to be too easy in our experience. There is only one difficulty level and throughout the gameplay there was a lack of big challenges for our pirates. The boss fights against the colossi or well-known villains like Crocodile provide the highlights in the game thanks to their entertaining staging, but the pirates don”t really break a sweat there either.

(The iconic attacks from the anime are spectacularly staged in the battles)
(The iconic attacks from the anime are spectacularly staged in the battles)

This is tragic because the battle system is good and delivers familiar elements of a Japanese role-playing game. The process is turn-based, and we can adjust the turn order. In addition, each team member brings an extensive catalogue of abilities, which are familiar from the anime and spectacularly staged.

We can exploit the weaknesses of our opponents using the scissors-rock-paper principle. If we ignore these tactical possibilities, however, we can usually still easily triumph over our opponents. If you don”t feel like the boring standard fights, you can turn up the speed or even activate the autopilot, then the game even regulates the fighting all by itself.

(The fights with the colossi are an important part of the story. They give Ruffy and Co. their power back.)
(The fights with the colossi are an important part of the story. They give Ruffy and Co. their power back.)

No task for a pirate

If you don”t feel like fighting, you can often avoid the enemies running around freely in the game world. The open world is disappointing: there is little to explore off the beaten track. In some dungeons, a few easy puzzles await us, which are quickly solved. The optional side tasks also lack ingenuity.

(The puzzles, if we should call them that, are similar to the battles: no great challenges.)
(The puzzles, if we should call them that, are similar to the battles: no great challenges.)

We got really annoyed when One Piece Odyssey sent us back to already known areas just to work through monotonous collecting tasks. Even in the course of the main storyline, we often move along familiar paths.

When we wanted to take a break in frustration, the save system slowed us down. It is not possible to save automatically or manually via the menu. Saving is only possible at specially designated points, which are, however, generously distributed.

(The humour typical of the series can be found around every corner. The arguments between Sanji and Zorro are of course part of it.)
(The humour typical of the series can be found around every corner. The arguments between Sanji and Zorro are of course part of it.)

All aboard?

Those who are big fans of the Straw Hat Gang may be able to overlook these moments of frustration and shortcomings in the gameplay. Fans who turn a blind eye will get a loving realisation of the world and characters from the anime with One Piece Odyssey and are welcome to add another ten points to the rating.

However, if this bond is missing, it is difficult to ignore the backtracking, the boring battles and the unimaginative tasks. If you don”t get enough of JRPGs with turn-based battle systems, you should rather look around for other genre representatives on the PC. Dragon Quest 11, the Persona series or the recently released Chained Echoes offer much more challenge and exciting gameplay.

Editorial conclusion

In the beginning, One Piece Odyssey really bored me. The start is tough, the tasks monotonous and the fights far too easy. After the first chapter, however, the story picks up speed and the new characters fit coherently into the popular pirate gang. Familiar stories from the anime are sensibly mixed with new aspects. The loving presentation makes for a real feel-good atmosphere.

I would have liked it even better if the game was shorter and had more pace in the production. At some points it is noticeable that the developers are artificially dragging out the action. The fact that I constantly had to return to familiar places really annoyed me and put my motivation to a hard test. Apart from the boss fights, there are hardly any challenges. The original is excellently realised and a feast for fans, but in terms of gameplay there are better genre alternatives.

Flo
Flo
Age: 28 years Origin: Germany Hobbies: Gaming, Biking, Football Profession: Online editor

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