- Platform: PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3 (with cross-platform play)
- Published By: XSEED Games
- Developed By: Game Arts, GungHo Online Entertainment
- Genre: Action RPG
- ESRB Rating: T for Teen
- Number of Players: 1-4 Co-op
- Release Date: April 1, 2014
Repetitive missions, a lackluster story – elements that usually make a game unworthy of spending hours of our lives playing. But when those faults are overshadowed by deep and engaging gameplay, you tend to forget about those imperfections. This is what you find with Ragnarok Odyssey ACE – an upgrade to the 2012 release of the PlayStation Vita exclusive, Ragnarok Odyssey. Now on both the PS3 and Vita, ACE takes the original game and adds even more content to the already jam-packed original game. This addition of new gameplay elements and content in turn makes the game all the more worthwhile despite its many faults.
Ragnarok Odyssey ACE’s story has a great premise on paper, but it fails to execute that scenario in a way that would make even the most easily amused care. A new warrior of Rune Midgard, you join the fight against giants who pour out from the mysterious Millennium Peaks. The player is only made aware of the story and its progression through a series of blocks of text from NPC’s who you meet at the beginning of the game and continue to check in with after each mission. While this is not uncommon for JRPG’s, the writing is so arid that nobody could blame you for your mind wandering after reading the first few lines followed by subsequent, mindless pressing of the “continue” button. There are no voice overs in the game, which make it that much less engaging when it comes to the story and characters. But even with this low point in the game, the gameplay makes up for everything else.
The game is pretty linear and purely mission-based. Playing missions and going on quests is as simple as going to a counter in your main lobby and picking from a list. While I did mention that missions can be repetitive, it is hardly noticeable. There are 9 chapters in the game, each chapter with a number of levels. Apart from those 9 core chapters, there are extra missions that a player has the option of playing for special loot and bonuses. There are a number of different monsters to fight in the game and a few different locations to go through depending on the chapter and mission; but overall, missions are generally the same thing over and over: Clear out monsters on map. Even if the mission is to obtain a certain material or defeat a certain boss, generally you still have to go through the maps and just kill monsters in your way to obtain the goal. It might sound fairly drab, but the gameplay keeps it fresh. Every now and then, there are missions that require you to keep a monster at bay from attacking the fort you are located in, but those are few and far between. They do offer a slightly fresh change of pace, but generally you engage in a rinse and repeat mission of clearing out monsters from maps.
The devs probably noted this problem with the missions and maps, so they introduced the Tower of Yggdrasil in ACE. This tower creates randomly generated levels each time you play, giving you a slightly new experience each time you play. According to XSEED, post-launch updates will offer new online quests and other fresh content.
The game has six classes or jobs, each with their set of weapons and skills – Sword Warrior, Hammersmith, Assassin, Mage, Cleric, and Hunter. At the start of the game, you create your own character with some basic physical customization options. You also choose your first class at that time. As you progress through the game, you are able to unlock and use at will any other class you desire. So you can be an awesome sword warrior for one mission and then change to be a powerful mage or nimble assassin the next. ACE introduces a new set of weapons which can be customized in both strength and appearance. There are hundreds upon hundreds of customization options and weapons to collect. Becoming a master of each weapon, leveling them up, customizing them for each class can last you years. What’s more ACE has introduced new job-specific “ACE skills” which gives players the tools and power to take on the bigger and badder enemies. Customization doesn’t just stop at the weapons and ACE Skills though. Outfits and armor can be upgraded, changed, expanded, and customized to fit your need as you desire with card sets which will give you certain power-ups and bonuses. The depth of customization is like a bottomless pit that will have you spending hours upon hours fine tuning your perfect warrior.
Depending on the class you are playing as, the gameplay can be fast paced or slow and deliberate. Each class has a different feel but all use the same button layout for combat. While the controls are simple, the gameplay can be quite diverse. Playing the same mission more than once can turn out as a completely new experience depending on which class you’re playing as, what weapons you have equipped, and which mercenaries you have employed (we’ll get into that a little more later). Action RPG lovers can get lost playing missions over and over with the progressively challenging gameplay and bounty of missions and customization options to choose from. The gameplay is simple, fun, and exciting enough to keep one playing for hours without end. And you don’t even have to go alone, take a friend!
Ragnarok Odyssey ACE has introduced a mercenary system which allows you to hire NPCs to support you on single player missions. You are provided with a list of mercenaries, each from a different job class that you can choose from. These are reliable allies that will help you clear out crowded maps or take down big bosses. But they’re optional. If you don’t feel like sharing your loot and think you’re the baddest guy in town, then you’re also free to go on missions alone.
The Vita version is also superior when it comes to how the game looks on the screen. Since it was originally a Vita game, it looks better on the Vita’s smaller, yet vivid OLED screen. The PS3 version seems a little stretched and the resolution a little unpolished. The game was never about graphical strides, but it’s a decent looking game for the content it provides.
I have to say, I have racked up dozens of hours while playing this game and I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to all of the crafting I can do, weapon upgrades and customizations, collectibles to find, cards to buy, monsters to hunt, classes to level up and so much more. There’s an almost endless amount of things you can do in this game, making you forget that the bland story exists and that missions are repetitive. Ragnarok Odyssey, while it has its imperfection is still a fun game with engaging gameplay to keep you playing for hours without end. Even if you have played the original, you can transfer your data over to the new game and keep playing with new content in a game that I think is even better than the first.
FINAL SCORE: 7.5/10
[Note: A free digital PS3 and PlayStation Vita copy of Ragnarok Odyssey was provided for review. This copy represented the final product.]