I was getting a craving for Monster Hunter, but I didn’t want to hook up my Wii or pull out my old PSP… I wanted to get the feel of slaying creatures in a world like that. The feel of handcrafting your own tools of the trade… so what was I to do? Well, XSeed and Game Arts offered me an answer that even lets me get some more use out of my shiny new toy: Ragnarok Odyssey.
Ragnarok Odyssey feels like a slightly simplified, story-driven version of a Monster Hunter game so far. And, if you’ve ever played a Monster Hunter game, you’ll realize that both of these are good things. The basic premise of this relatively recent and niche genre is that you(either solo or online with friends) tackle various types of missions – usually the standard 3 are hunting, boss, and collection – for the people of your home town. When you kill enemies, you acquire materials based off the enemy you kill that become parts used in the enhancement and crafting of new gear.
Ragnarok Odyssey has pushed the genre forward a bit through the addition of a relatively basic story. There is actually a reason for you to exist. And the really cool part of it is that it draws a lot from Norse mythology, which is fascinating. The premise is that this town has just recently repelled an invasion by the giants, and now their standing army is crippled so they’ve hired a group of mercenaries – including you – to handle the task of pacifying the regions around the town and eventually ending the giant threat while the army focuses purely on the defense of the town itself. While the story hasn’t really shown itself too much yet in the 8 hours I’ve played of the game, but it is present enough to make a difference.
The combat is responsive and fairly fluid, and works exactly like a fan of the genre would want. Someone unfamiliar with the genre may find it feels a bit sluggish but it is important to remember that it is supposed to be skill oriented, and it is supposed to make you feel some element of fear and risk as you play. You’re a lone warrior hunting beasts that are several times larger than you… this isn’t supposed to be easy. Thus far I haven’t actually had to kill a giant yet – although I have had a mission where I had to avoid one which was rather terrifying.
The visuals of Ragnarok Odyssey set a high bar for other Vita titles to follow with gorgeous scenery, unique and interesting monsters, and character models that remind me a lot of high-res final fantasy 10 characters. The downside of this is that you might fail a timed mission due to spending too long staring at the stunning waterfall vista, or looking out over the ocean. It’s a real concern, but one I’m willing to bear.