Lost Odyssey is a turn-based JRPG and one of the most well known titles in the genre on Xbox 360. A lot of its fame comes from being created by the godfather of Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi. It was the Xbox‘s answer to that well-known series, back during the times when none of the Final Fantasy titles were available on the platform. It was also the second game from Mistwalker, made specifically for Xbox. The first one was their critically-acclaimed Blue Dragon – which, just by looking at the art, you knew was their take on Dragon Quest.
Even though the Microsoft console wasn’t big in Japan (and still isn’t), this still was the turning point for the company. It showed that there was, indeed, interest in RPGs in the country – especially of the turn-based variety. It wasn’t the first turn-based game on the console (that honor went to Enchanted Arms). Nor was it the bestselling one. Yet, it ended up being regarded as the best exclusive turn-based JRPG on the Xbox 360 or any Xbox to come after. After that success, however, Blue Dragon went on to work on some DS sequels. Lost Odyssey, as such, has yet to get a sequel. But what was it about Lost Odyssey that made it so great that even today, there are people still clamoring for a continuation to this great RPG? And no, it isn’t just me; there are others… I think.
Lost Odyssey is set in a steam punk-ish looking world during a magical revolution. At the beginning of the game, players are introduced to Kaim – the immortal main character of Lost Odyssey. During a battle, a meteor strikes the battlefield, killing everyone but him and another immortal. It is suspected by the Uhran council (one of the warring nations) that the Grand Staff (think a radioactive plant but for magic) is behind the event. The council summons Kaim, wondering how the hell did he survive. But – like in any good turn-based RPG – the hero just happens to suffer a bout of amnesia.
Of course, this means that the council sends Kaim on a quest to the Grand Staff to find out what happened. But not without some caveats. Kaim must take along the only other survivor from that ordeal, another immortal, known as Seth. As well as a human by the name of Jensen. In this way, Kaim acquires the companions who’ll help him on his harrowing journey to the Grand Staff.
Lost Odyssey is a traditional turn-based JRPG. The player sets the actions for the heroes before they act. Battles are played in a five-character formation. For example – there can be two party members in front and three in the rear, or vice versa. Those on the first line act as a kind of shield for those on the second. I found the best combination was to send two of my heavy immortals in the vanguard. That way, they offered a larger area of protection for my spellcaster behind them. Depending on my mood, I could send another strong character to the front or another spellcaster to the back. But I had to remember that the third hero at the front would have to be a mortal character.
Characters in Lost Odyssey can perform two types of actions. These are the standard melee attack and the skills. The latter consist of magic, AOEs and attacks that do multiple hits. Naturally, the regular strike could be enacted the same turn it was initiated. A special ring the player attaches to the weapon determines what its standard attack would do. These also require playing a sort of mini-game, involving two rings – a moving and a static one. For example, let’s say I have a ring of extra damage. Then, for this additional damage to be dealt, I need to push the right trigger when the two rings align. How closely they align determines how successful the effect will be. The result can be bad, good and perfect. Perfect being the best outcome, and bad leading to no extra effect – just the regular hit. While nothing new by today’s standards, this system was great as it made the game more fast-paced. Something I was always worried about with turn-based RPGs.
I am Immortal
Something that I still find unique in Lost Odyssey is the addition of immortal characters. These play very differently, compared to the regular, mortal ones. In Lost Odyssey, characters can be knocked out, like in any RPG. The difference is that if, say, one of the immortals is knocked out – it isn’t the end for them. After a few turns, they get back up like nothing happened – only with less health. I already mentioned that I’ve specifically kept two immortals at the front. By the time the enemies were ready to down the heroes in the rear, my two immortals were back up and ready for action. Sometimes this would be the only difference between winning and losing.
Another advantage of the immortals is that they receive an unlimited number of skills. Other characters have to level up to learn these. The immortals don’t need to do anything like that. Instead, they can, in a sense, just copy mortal characters’ abilities via linking up. This system means that every skill the mortals learn – immortals can learn just as well. Yes, it was a grind – if you wanted them to get all the possible abilities. But, if you were content having only specific ones, then it wasn’t really a problem. The other way for an immortal to learn new skills was by equipping accessories. If levelled correctly – these heroes could end up being the powerhouses of the game.
A World on Four Discs
Back when the game was first released, one of its most prominent features was that it ended up being the first title for Xbox 360 that required not two, not three, but four discs! While, at the time, I didn’t have any problem with this, I am glad that’s something I don’t have to deal with anymore. Luckily for the game, this was mainly for general progress. It didn’t affect exploring the world, which was stored, primarily, on disc number four. If you play JRPGs, you know how big some of their worlds are; Lost Odyssey is no exception, with multiple towns and dungeons to explore. In addition to a host of side quests to complete and even super bosses to defeat. For those looking for a challenge.
If a large open world wasn’t enough, Lost Odyssey also has every character trope one would be at home with in a JRPG. From that pervy character with a heart of gold to an old man yelling “mummy” at an immortal that looks half his age, it is all here and more.
The developers behind Lost Odyssey certainly had some sort of trigger-happy fan in mind when they worked on the game. However – it does have enough to offer even to the traditionalists of the genre. Before playing Lost Odyssey, I rarely played JRPGs. The closest thing was Paper Mario on GameCube. For someone like me to love that game was definitely some feat. After this, I did go on to playing other titles in the genre. Yet, it still held a special spot for me, and I still regard it as one of the best JRPGs. Even after ten plus years, it’s still great to play. The graphics may have aged, but that story is still awesome and something that must be experienced.
If you are a fan of JRPGs and have somehow found yourself in possession of an Xbox, make sure it’s at the top of your list. Sadly, there’s no other way you can experience the game, at the time of writing. The PC port doesn’t exist. I also don’t know if Microsoft still owns the rights. If they do, though, please, we need a sequel or a remake! If not, we need Mistwalker to release to more platforms.