One Piece OdysseyJanuary 13th, 2023
PlatformPlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series S|X, PC
For as many adventures as Luffy and the Straw Hat crew have been on across the Grand Line, so few take place across turn-based battles. If you've played a One Piece game in the past decade, whether it's an RPG, musou action or arena brawler, the lanky Gum-Gum Fruit bearer's journey has been as action-focused as the manga. It's been since the days of Romance Dawn's 3DS release (a GameStop exclusive with one of the lowest number of copies printed across the entire platform) since Luffy has had to wait his turn to punch an enemy. Now, nearly six years after development quietly began, One Piece Odyssey is finally upon us to take Luffy and crew to the mysterious island of Waford for adventure and more.
After the Thousand Sunny crash lands in the seas just outside Waford, the crew is stranded and split up for the introductory moments of the story. It isn't until three-quarters of the Straw Hats are reunited that they meet the two new characters introduced specifically for One Piece Odyssey: Adio and Lim. Beyond a general distaste for pirates, there isn't much motivation for Lim to act as the catalyst of the adventure, stealing and sealing away both strength and skill from Luffy's crew into minuscule green cubes that are then scattered throughout the world of Waford and the land of Memoria where dreams are held. Only a simple pat on the back is enough to strip Zoro of knowing how to use all three swords or Sanji to recall the basics of cooking. It's a novel way to bring Luffy's crew back down to level one long after the adventures of Impel Down and Marineford but is flimsy at best.
So much of One Piece Odyssey is spent chasing down those cubes across four different memories that allow Luffy to revisit key moments from the first 750 chapters of the story, up through the New World Saga just prior to venturing out to Whole Cake Island. Revisiting Alabasta and the other three regions are meant to invoke memories of those pivotal story moments with an outsider view, as Lim is a passive observer as Luffy's crew relive these stories with prior knowledge of the events at hand. When Crocodile rises up to overtake the kingdom of Alabasta, Luffy already has some clue on what happens next and can divert the story only just slightly from its predetermined ending. From a story perspective, revisiting these memories is meant to show Lim that perhaps the Straw Hat Pirates aren't quite as bad as those that sailed to Waford before and also the unwavering power of friendship.
One Piece Odyssey's main story loop usually revolves around venturing into Memoria to revisit one of the four key locations, acquiring more lost memory cubes, tending to whatever big bad pirate or Marine is heading up whatever trouble Luffy's crew runs into, only to return to Waford and explore one of the elemental ruins and besting its colossus to restore more of Luffy's missing memories and powers. The initial region, Alabasta, is easily the longest of all chapters, letting players get lost for ten to fifteen hours if they so wish to explore every nook and cranny or complete every side quest they so wish (although players will have to return once they acquire a treasure key from the end of the game to unlock certain locked chests or bring Franky back to repair the odd bridge or two).
Upon completing Alabasta, it isn't much indication of the remainder of the adventure as the next Memoria, Water 7, is much shorter, featuring only a couple of city maps to explore and a variety of sewers leading up to the Tower of Law. The third Memoria, Marineford, is even shorter than the rest, with a slew of story cutscenes and boss battles leading up to a crucial moment in One Piece history involving Luffy's sworn brother Ace. Returning at a later time lets players explore only a small sliver of Marineford and complete sidequests ranging from tracking down carpentry supplies to help someone build a ship to recovering a lost cloth needed to polish the Ox Bell in the ruins left behind from Marineford's largest battlefield.
Exploring each region of One Piece Odyssey is a mixture of wide open fields and narrow corridors of caves and sewers. Each Memoria region feels slightly different in its navigation, and players can easily roam around the deserts of Alabasta for hours, stumbling across hidden treasures and side quests if they so desire. All of the various Straw Hat crew offer their own unique skills when it comes to field exploration. Nami and Sanji can uncover hidden money and ingredient stashes, either immediately visible if running around as them or a chat popup from a crew member can indicate some sort of collectible nearby if the player wishes to switch control over to that speaking character. Luffy, Chopper, and Zoro also have traversal abilities that range from Luffy's grappling hook-esque arms to Chopper's innate ability to crawl into tight spaces as small as his tiny reindeer body will allow. Even if you like running around as your favorite crew member all of the time, it's important to rotate around when there's a hint of treasure nearby.
As a turn-based JRPG, One Piece Odyssey leans towards the easier side for nearly any encounter thrown the player's way. With control of four characters at a given time (along with any AI guest characters that tag along), players will plot out their actions individually each time their turn comes up. Players can pick any character to move and combat rounds don't finish until all four characters have taken an action. Swapping out characters from the reserves doesn't consume an action, so actively swapping out a low-health character or one whose combat affinity is a surefire weakness is an important skill to remember.
One Piece Odyssey's combat is centered around the Rock-Paper-Scissors design of Power, Speed, and Technique abilities, respectively. Each crew member has one of these three combat styles that never changes and while Power types outnumber the rest of the crew for much of the adventure, it isn't always the best to include as many of one type at a time. If a Power user such as Luffy strikes an enemy that's Technique-oriented (similar to Zoro or Robin), the damage they deal is massively reduced and the inverse also applies, so a Technique enemy can deal extra damage to Luffy's Power stance. I'm sure if you wanted to brute force your way and simply auto-attack every round of combat, that would be a vaguely feasible approach, although it'll consume a lot of health items. Chopper, the crew's chief medical officer, only has limited healing abilities for much of the adventure, so it's often wise to take advantage of Sanji's cooking abilities while at camp or in certain restaurants to craft healing items the entire party can use.
Truth be told, One Piece Odyssey was of little challenge for nine-tenths of the adventure, save for a few key bosses that required some planning when I was met with a Game Over screen only a couple of rounds into the fight when all of my party members sustained extensive damage from their attack and found themselves incapacitated. Switching into Auto Battle and letting the AI take control was how I wound up playing the middle chapters of One Piece Odyssey and I rarely lost a match or even faced much threat, helping in part by having done some earlier grinding for cash and out leveling the enemies in that particular area.
In addition to basic attacks and crafted items (Sanji for food, Usopp for Trick Balls that can reduce an enemy's stats), players will have access to a variety of special attacks that consume TP, a more technique-driven version of the MP that any RPG player is familiar with. These moves vary in a few different ways, from being single- or multi-target to whether they target enemies up close or further away. Many abilities don't offer much more reason to pick one over the other save for a slightly lower TP cost or a higher base attack bonus. Even for the sword-focused Zoro, you could get through most encounters with a slash that hits every enemy in his area.
Rather than the Straw Hat pirates taking up one half of the arena and their target on the other side, One Piece Odyssey is slightly more technical. Taking inspiration from the latest in the Wild Arms series, the battlefield is broken up into smaller zones that humans and enemies alike can occupy at once. Once an enemy is in the area adjoining that of the player, short-range attacks can be used and typically only after emptying that particular zone of enemy combatants can players move to another zone. You can be forgiven for not paying much attention to the various zones of combat and simply engaging with your regular choices of attacks and skills, although beneficial abilities that heal every player character in a given area might not work if they're scattered about the battlefield.
There are a small variety of ways to restore Luffy and crew's power up to and beyond the starting potential of each crew member in One Piece Odyssey; players began their adventure to Waford Island in the low 40s and players won't see that experience again until at least the third Memoria is complete. Completing battles yields EXP that boosts the player's level and stats associated. The second method is by defeating notable bosses or the Colossi in each Waford dungeon to uncover cubes once lost that can restore power to the player little by little. Cube fragments can then be acquired by a keen eye and exploration across each map that can power up certain key skills (some, not all, attack skills can be boosted with three cube fragments each time). The third method comes by way of fresh gear for the Straw Hat crew.
Robin's ability to Fuse accessories to transfer skills from more common (white-colored) accessories purchased in shops or earned during the adventure into purple-colored gear that's taken directly from various characters throughout all of One Piece remains the sole form of equipment available to the crew. Before Robin learns the ability to Fuse, players are limited to one ability per accessory and slotted into a 4x4 grid, which expands into a 5x5 arrangement as more memory cubes are returned to the crew. Afterward, players can fuse up to three abilities from the more common gear into a single accessory and the numerical bonuses provided are too good to ignore. Alongside typical HP and stat gains, players can also bolster resistances to the three different damage types, recover more TP per turn, and more. With a few ATK boosting accessories, you can easily turn Zoro into a powerhouse that can shred most enemies in a single hit or do the same to Nami for her Thunder attacks that target the entire arena.
For players familiar with One Piece, venturing into One Piece Odyssey is like a trip down memory lane, revisiting many key battles in media res. The sections of Marineford still hit hard, even with Luffy already knowing the outcome and doing his best to change what's been written into history. However, for those where this is the first taste of the Grand Line, One Piece Odyssey can often overwhelm players with the sheer roster of cast members that show up briefly only to never appear again in the story. One Piece Odyssey does a fantastic job of letting players relive grand battles from years ago, but it will be a tough sell to newcomers that might often be lost in the narrative's pacing.
As a turn-based JRPG, One Piece Odyssey hits the mark more often than not and is one of the highest-quality licensed IP titles to come from Shonen Jump's lineage of manga, but something is missing from making this adventure truly special. If fans are looking for a celebration of Oda's work, this Odyssey is a trip worth taking. However, f you're considering this as the first trip aboard the Going Merry, a few hundred chapters of light reading might be the essential primer you need to get the most out of becoming Luffy's nakama.
PlayStation 5 version reviewed—copy provided by the publisher.
A tale built on revisiting past adventures in media res, One Piece Odyssey relies so much on retelling great stories that came before it that the adventure in Waford alongside Lim and Adio feels like an afterthought.
- Accessible turn-based combat
- First turn-based One Piece RPG in the past two console generations
- Fantastic production values and 3D animation for a licensed IP
- The Battle of Marineford still hits hard
- Accessory fusing can turn anyone into an invincible powerhouse with enough know-how
- Humor and gags that mostly hit their mark
- Save transfer available from PS4 to PS5 (hidden in menus)
- Brook and Franky both join in the back half of the adventure
- Minimap is useless for tracking side quest objectives or most points of interest
- Cannot skip attack animations (although a fast-forward option is unlocked fairly early on)
- No English dub, a trend for the past 15 years of One Piece games
- Difficulty rarely challenges JRPG veterans, save for a couple of crucial boss encounters
- In-game timer never stops even when console is at rest (over 150 hours were clocked before beginning the fourth Memoria)
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