In many ways, Lost Odyssey is the RPG I’ve been missing for a long time. It’s what Final Fantasy once was, and what it should have been today. I guess that was sort of the point, since it was developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Mistwalker studio, with Nobuo Uematsu on music. Between Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon, that old-school JRPG vibe is maintained quite faithfully, while the once-venerable FF series continues evolving into new territory.
That’s pretty much where the comparisons between Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey end, however. While the former has an irrepressibly childlike cartoon style, the latter is dark, gritty, and full of mature themes; Lost Odyssey is, in many ways, like the big brother that’s grown and moved out of the house. And this was precisely the first thing that made me fall in love with it, when I started playing it a long time ago.
Lost Odyssey is like the game I had an absolute blast not playing for the longest time after I started it. I think this is due in part to my changing tastes in games; where I wouldn’t even have given a second thought if someone asked me once upon a time what my favorite genre of games is (I would have said old-school RPGs), I can’t often muster the required patience and time commitment in my OCD-filled days to stick with one long enough to complete it now. That doesn’t mean I love them any less, just that I spend less time playing them. And so it was with Lost Odyssey, where I – foolishly! – stopped playing and had to come back to it a year or two later. But this time I finally stuck with it!
And now it’s the game I can’t get out of my mind, even after finishing it. In many ways, this really turned out to be such a finely-crafted game that it’s certainly destined to be a classic, and will likely remain on my short list of “Best RPGs of the Current Console Generation”. It was at the same time a much more mature experience than many others (not just RPGs, mind you) as well as one of the most emotionally moving.
From the opening scene which not only shows how badass Kaim truly is, but also shifts its tone on a dime and shows the slaughter of thousands of troops on a battlefield by a force that outmatches them immeasurably. My jaw pretty much dropped open from the very beginning of this game. It continues with the surprisingly and, to be blunt, unexpectedly sophisticated and ambitious plot about a group of immortals, coping with a life unending, what it means to leave behind loved ones and never have a home, never belong. And, of course, the coup de grâce, the memory sequences shown as Kaim begins to recollect a life of a thousand years; presented only in text, but with animated lettering, sound effects, and an immensely impactful score – easily one of Uematsu’s best to date! The song ‘A Sign of Hope’, in particular, has become one that still haunts me with its beauty. These completely optional segments alone are easily worth the price of admission, and something I won’t soon forget.
I could probably go on for a good bit yet. I haven’t mentioned the way that the characters were really given time to grow throughout the story, and develop interesting and meaningful interrelationships, so that it mattered when, in the finale, certain characters get separated or make sacrifices for each other, and when the immortals are faced with the choice of attaining a normal life again or staying with their loved ones. I could mention the humor, the pathos, the top-notch animation and unique character designs…but then again, if you’ve played Lost Odyssey, you already know about all these. And if you haven’t, you really have no excuse not to find a copy and start right away, and no one but yourself to blame if you pass up on it.