Lost Odyssey (2007)

Video Game  |  6 December 2007 (Japan)
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Title: Lost Odyssey (Video Game 2007)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Keith Ferguson ...
Kaim Argonar (voice)
Seth Balmore (voice)
Ming Numara (voice)
Kim Mai Guest ...
Sarah Sisulart (voice)
Cooke (voice)
Mack (voice)
Michael McGaharn ...
Jansen (voice)
Tolten (voice) (as Chad Brandon)
Sed (voice)
Gongora (voice)
Peter Renaday ...
King Gohtza (voice)
Kakanas (voice)
Shelly Callahan ...
Lirum (voice)
Roxian (voice)
Melodee Spevack ...
Maia (voice)


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6 December 2007 (Japan)  »

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User Reviews

The (Real) Final Fantasy
4 April 2008 | by (Portugal) – See all my reviews

Few "Final Fantasy" fans like the new course of the series, with Yasumi Matsuno's different approach in "FFXII" and the growing number of uninspired series' spin offs. Because of this, "FFXIII" is probably the least expected episode in the series in many years. So, when word got out, that after leaving Square, Hironobu Sakaguchi formed a new company named Mistwalker, expectations reached an all time high for the "Final Fantasy" fans. Due to the "Blue Dragon" flop, "Lost Odyssey" was released with little fanfare: reviewers everywhere dismissed the game as mild effort to repeat the JRPG formula once more, and the fan-base of the 360 wasn't mildly interested in a classical JRPG. So, the question that needs answering is: how does "Lost Odyssey" stack up when compared with the "Final fantasy" legacy?

"Lost Odyssey" is the tale of Kaim Argonar, an immortal that has lived for a thousand years. It is set in a high fantasy/sci-fi scenario, similar to that of "FFVIII", where a number of political conflicts have engaged the world in a series of wars. The reason why the world is at war is rather simple: there is a powerful, mad wizard that wants to take over the world with his magic, and uses these conflicts to gain power; alas, a big old cliché. Sakaguchi's script is really poor, with a plot so obvious and dull, it hurts: in the first few hours it will be plainly obvious who the bad guy is and what he's plotting, and what the good guys' role is. No plot twists, no grand finale, no hidden meanings... nothing. Yet, the ol' Sakaguchi charm still manages to creep up, with a cast of touching and funny characters giving the story a much needed interest. . Not all the cast is as charming as it should be and can seem mostly underdeveloped, especially Kaim, who is so "emo" it becomes annoying: all his dialogs can be resumed to a series of careless, dry one-liners. But that is where things get interesting…

"Lost Odyssey" features a collaboration from Japanese writer Kiyoshi Shigematsu, named "1000 years of dreams", a collection of memories belonging to Kaim's thousand years of living. These memories were translated to screen only using text, a few abstract images and sound, and of course, Uematsu's soundtrack. The result is, by far, the best narrative "Lost Odyssey" has to offer. Here, Kaim is portrayed as a multifaceted character, with proper feelings and personality; his life-episodes are much more deep and emotionally provocative than anything Sakaguchi can come up with. They can be described as philosophical tales about war and peace, love and hate, life and death, but nothing I could write would transmit how powerful, well written they really are. After the first one, I was hooked to these pieces of literary magic, that managed to make me weep every time, due to the intensity of those vivid dramatic moments, made all the more touching thanks to Uematsu's music. It's so good, that if "Lost Odyssey" focused on these writings instead of the silly "Madman wants to take over the world" plot, it would probably have the best JRPG story ever.

The game-play, as would be expected from Sakaguchi, is the standard in classical turn-based RPG's, i.e. nothing new here. And if it does feel dated, one must admit that at least it's well executed: battles require timed inputs, that prevent the player from dozing off; grinding is not an issue, thanks to the use of an experience system that grants levels with great speed; and the tradition of obscure side-quests is gone, with most of the hidden secrets in the game only requiring a healthy amount of exploration and reasoning to uncover. So if you like to reminisce about classical "Final Fantasies", then the game-play will surely make you happy. Nobuo Uematsu's fully orchestrated score will also make you very happy, as it follows the spirit of the series, meaning its one hell of a soundtrack. Though it's nostalgic, it's a completely original score, which allowed Uematsu to go to new, unvisited places, instead of having to rearrange the same tiresome melodies.

On the technical side, the game has its ups and downs. The art-direction is good and translates well into the powerful Unreal Engine, producing beautiful sets and characters. It isn't, by any means, nothing that hasn't been done before: most of the aesthetic is reminiscent of past "Final Fantasies", and the usual Japanese silliness (like dresses that lack fabric in bosom and rear) is too present to make the world's environment feel believable. The fact that the game doesn't run very well, doesn't help: there are many loading-screens and stuttering-cut-scenes waiting players who want to get through to the end of the game. At least, the cut-scenes and FMV are the best I've ever seen, with fast cut editing, dynamic directing (finally a game that masters the use of low and high-angle shots) and use of simultaneous multiple POVs (giving a comic-book feel like that of Ang Lee's "Hulk"). Apart from the simplistic lighting, the visual direction by Roy Sato (animator of "The Flight of the Osiris") is entirely commendable.

So, is "Lost Odyssey" a worthy successor of the "Final Fantasy" legacy? The answer is… yes. Though "Lost Odyssey" has many flaws, it fares remarkably well in upholding the series' concepts and production values. Everything you'd expect from a "Final Fantasy" is present. Yet, "Final Fantasy" has always been a series that, in each episode, went further in the genre and "Lost Odyssey" feels exactly the opposite. At first, that might be a letdown, but after shedding a few tears from reading every "1000 Years of Memories", you'll understand what Sakaguchi is trying to say with his game: why go forward, when the dramatic potential of the genre is still underachieved? "Lost Odyssey" is his greatest masterpiece, a game so heartbreaking, profound and beautiful that it fully deserves the title of "Final Fantasy".

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