As one of the pioneering forces of manga and anime, One Piece is something meant to inspire joy, creativity, and a sense of adventure in fans, no matter where they are. Following alongside Monkey D. Luffy and his band of Straw Hat Pirates, this quest has been in the making for over 25 years. However, it seems that the creator of the franchise, Eiichiro Odastill has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, even delving into the world of original stories for his created crew of bandits.
One Piece Odyssey is an entirely original story that rereads some not-so-original ideas. While the sum of its parts equals up to a good game and a great time all around, does it do enough to carve out a spot in the hearts of JRPG lovers around the world?
Washed Ashore In A New World
One Piece Odyssey brings the characters created within to life in a new dimension, with high-quality models that will have fans hooked from the moment they see them. Luffy and the gang have never looked better, with detailed character models that look as if they were peeled directly from the pages of the newest chapter. Alongside these detailed models, environments spring to life around the player, with an impressive draw distance that allows players to admire the view, no matter where they are.
With a unique sketchbook look that is strewn across many of the textures of the land, I couldn’t look away. Enemy designs are eye-catching, and while some of the characters may have a bit too much fan service going on, everybody looks the best they ever have without a doubt. Getting a chance to revisit favorite areas, such as Dressarosa once more in 4K resolution gave me the chance to admire the world that has been crafted around these pirates.
As I made my way through the new world of Waford, there are a surprising amount of little details that stuck out to me. More often than not, I’ve found myself breezing through anime/manga-inspired games without paying much attention to the overworld, as it’s fairly static, plain, and just overall boring. However, each of the worlds visited in One Piece Odyssey offered branching paths to utilize the skills of specific characters and helped these reread worlds pop to life once more.
There are a few bits of contention that do bring this lively world down from a top-class RPG title, however. As I pressed forward throughout the wartorn city of Alabasta, for example, I was expecting to see battles being waged between the Rebel Forces and the Guards of the city, but it instead boiled down to a few static NPC characters standing at guard, which was disappointing. Characters are fighting behind barriers further into the city, but seeing the larger part of this city underutilized was disappointing, to say the least.
The One Piece Is Real
All of the Japanese Voice Actors resuming their roles within One Piece Odyssey, bringing top-notch energy and witty banter that feels extremely authentic to the source material. It’s fun to explore these worlds and have a chance to listen to Sanji and Zoro bicker back and forth in petty arguments, or Luffy whine for food once again, moments after eating. It helps Odyssey feel like an authentic product, rather than something forced and stiff.
Sound design is another overall high point for this adventure. I decided to play through the majority of this title with headphones on and was treated to an excellent soundtrack, as well as surprising attention to detail when it comes to the way sounds interact with the world surrounding you.
Hearing the grunts and groans of battle, alongside the small details of water rushing beneath your feet or hot sand against your footwear is a great little detail. Most anime titles don’t pay this type of attention to detail, which is why I thought that it deserved a callout here.
A Complex Battle System With A Twist
The true meat and potatoes of this experience isn’t even the grand adventure that lies before the player. Rather, it’s the battle system that One Piece Odyssey brings to the table. Yes, it may be a rehashed version of Rock, Paper, Scissors in the long run, but there is more to it than what originally meets the eye.
There are three types of powers that characters use within this world, Speed, Power, and Technique. Each of these characters have their respective Strength and Weakness, so utilizing that to your advantage can be the difference between life and death on the battlefield. Or rather, it would be if the battles in this game weren’t numbingly easy at times.
Up until Chapter 2, battles can essentially be won with any character in the party, which are swappable at any time. Even on the field, players can have Sanji retreat to the back of the line, swapping him out with Tony Tony Chopper, or anybody else, making battles simple to master. There is even the option to enable an auto battle system, so you can continue to grind while focusing on more pressing matters. However, at the end of the Alabasta War bow, players are put against their first real threat.
When more challenging battles arise, the true strength of this battle system is put front and center. Needing to use legitimate strategy against the boss of this chapter showcases how fun and dynamic battles can really be, and it’s a shame that the majority of the fights can be completed without much thought. The addition of a difficulty slider via an update in the future could really help elevate One Piece Odyssey to the next level, rather than leaving the challenge to just a few battles.
No matter how simple the majority of battles may be, there is something exhilarating about seeing their Ultimate Skills come to life, as they are animated beautifully and help showcase the personality and skills of each of the combatants on the battlefield. No matter how many times I used Usopp’s Rubber Band Of DoomI could feel a smile creeping from the corners of my mouth.
The World Is At Your Fingertips…
One of the biggest strengths, and also weaknesses of One Piece Odyssey happens to lie within its approach to exploration and traversal. While making my way through the carefully crafted worlds, getting the chance to see every nook and cranny of the cities, deserts, and ruins that lie within, it’s fun to see small details that may normally go unnoticed in other One Piece games.
When I wasn’t battling against countless enemies that litter the plains, I was taking my time and exploring. Alongside taking control of Luffyyou’re able to swap between any party member at any time, and they all have their uses. With his Gum-Gum powers, Luffy can cross gaps by grabbing onto hooks and grapple points, Zoro can slice through doors and boxes, and Chopper uses his size to his advantage, making every character feel useful while exploring.
Every world is meticulously detailed, and with plenty of items to find via individual characters, it gave me a chance to realize how useful every member of the team is. While fans of the series may already plan on running through the world with their favorite crew member, don’t neglect anyone in the party, as they all have plenty of uses. Universal traversal tools are usable by all members, but utilizing Sanji to find ingredients for food at camp is more important than zooming through the desert with Luffy.
Worlds are split into separate zones, and I was able to find countless goodies as I explored these lands. Exploring high, low, and every bit in between can be quite exciting and gave me the feeling that I was actually in the world that these characters live and thrive in. Until I started running into some issues with the overall traversal that started to sour the experience.
…Except for Over There.
One Piece Odyssey commits one of the biggest sins of any open-world game, and it does so with an alarming frequency. While I was exploring and plundering within ruins and caverns, there were countless times that I needed to get from a high point to a lower point, but my progress was blocked by an invisible wall.
While the battle system may be slightly easy, determining where an invisible wall could be is not. But, in this particular game, a rule of thumb is: if there is a small chance that you could cut some time out of traversal by jumping over a railing or taking a small shortcut by going over an edge, there is likely an invisible wall . It’s a shame because with a fully open world, Odyssey gave me the closest feeling to being a Straw Hat Pirate, but the constant blocking of progress felt more infuriating than anything else.
There are certain areas where an invisible wall would make sense, but when they are placed in countless locations, the illusion of freedom is quickly stripped away from anyone playing this game. It’s a shame to see so many parts of the world blocked off, especially when it’s almost unnecessary in most situations. Yes, it doesn’t hurt to have an invisible way to prevent players from dropping into a bottomless pit, but let me jump over the railing to save a few seconds.
I Wanna Hold Your Hand
The sheer amount of handholding within the opening hours of the game turns it from a grand adventure in a new world to an outright slog during some of the most important hours. One Piece Odyssey isn’t an overly complex game, so the amount of hints, tips, and tricks players receive when starting the journey almost feels like a slap in the face from Gear 4 Luffy.
While players may be interested to learn about what the game has to offer, finding a better way to implement it than continuously popping bits and bobs of information on the screen for the first few hours could help players get their feet wet faster and get the gears moving quickly. With the amount of creativity that the world of One Piece has to offer, it feels convoluted and counterintuitive to explain how things work via text, rather than making the characters experience it themselves.
The final criticism that this game deserves is the amount of stop-and-start actions at the beginning that bring the action to a complete halt. It’s understandable to want to progress the story, especially in a world that is as lore-rich as One Piece itself is, but when players will take 3 to 4 steps before jumping into another piece of the story can feel cumbersome and clumsy. Within the first chapter, I spent more time taking baby steps, rather than jumping into the exciting and well-thought-out journey that comes into play shortly after.
While some parts of One Piece Odyssey feel strangely amateurish, the overall package is well worth your time. It’s not going to be deemed an all-time classic by any means, but even those that aren’t the biggest fans of the source material will find more than enough to love with this title. With a fun cast of supporting characters, excellent dialogue, and music that keeps the adrenaline pumping throughout its 30+ hour runtime, One Piece Odyssey offers a worthy adventure to those ready to jump in.
While One Piece Odyssey is an entirely original story that rereads some not-so-original grounds, the sum of its parts equals up to a good game and a great time all around. Does it do enough to carve out a spot in the hearts of JRPG lovers around the world? Not entirely, but those that love One Piece will find a competent and beautiful RPG that is crafted with care. One Piece Odyssey could have easily been a cash-in title, but players will find that there is plenty of heart and soul in the overall package.
This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game’s publisher, public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.
– This article was updated on January 17th, 2023