When it comes to anime and manga series, there are few franchises as iconic, well known and long running as much as One Piece. Over it’s run, Eiichiro Oda’s manga series has been adapted into a highly loved anime series, various movies as well as other video games in the past. But when it comes to the games especially, many have been hit or miss. Now as part of the celebration of One Piece’s 25th anniversary, developers ILCA have created a One Piece game that respects and expands the source material while also crafting a really solid JRPG and making it fun and accessible for players, whether they’re die hard One Piece fans or experiencing the series for the first time with their new game One Piece Odyssey.
Plot wise, this game picks up after the events of One Piece’s timeskip and begins with a cold opening that wastes no time setting up the premise of the game. The game opens with the Straw Hat crew sailing the seas before being swept up in a ravenous storm and crash landing, finding themselves washed up on the island of Waford. With his ship destroyed, Luffy is first tasked with locating his crew mates that have been scattered throughout the island and obtain the ability to fix the ship and continue their quest. Without spoiling too much of the story, before long you’ll run into the game’s 2 new original characters that were actually created by Eiichiro Oda himself, Adio and Lim and learn more about the mysteries of Waford, why some of the Straw Hat’s crews powers don’t work as planned here and Lim’s mysterious link to the cubes found on the island in in much of the game’s promotional material up to this point.
The game’s story, especially that involving Lim plays directly into gameplay and progression by having the characters stripped of their abilities we expect them to have and cleverly implements a subplot involving the recovering of their lost powers and skillset to give players an ongoing goal to do along with the main story and plays right into the progression and JRPG elements implemented in One Piece Odyssey. The gaming trope of starting the game with a powered up character and then having their abilities stripped away just to have them progressively earn them back is certainly nothing new, but I did like how this was implemented in Odyssey and also feels like it could be a realistic character arc we could experience in the anime.
Along with the new story component and the mysterious island of Waford, Odyssey implements a Memory Arcs mechanic where Lim’s abilities allow the crew to travel into their existing memories to re-experience key locations, events and characters from some of One Piece’s most memorable arcs. It’s a really clever way to have players experience parts of One Piece that they loved but in an original way that fits in with the overall story of this game without the game just being a straight adaptation of existing arcs. To keep things even more interesting, when traversing these memory sections of the game, they aren’t just straight recreations of what actually happened in the original canon. They offer the ability to change key events and outcomes that initially occurred to provide interesting, twisted takes on the original events that took place during the arcs to provide plenty of surprises for players of the game that may already be very familiar with the One Piece story. Without spoiling anything, the arcs revealed pre-release that the Straw Hats will be able to travel into include the Alabasta arc, Water Seven arc, Marineford arc and the Dressrosa arc. In the game these arcs, environments and characters are fully realised and traversable and offer a lot of Easter Eggs that fans of the series will certainly pick up on and enjoy.
Waford Island and the worlds the crew travel to have come across into the game with incredible accuracy. The game is gorgeous and vibrant, and really conveys Eiichiro Oda’s art direction for his worlds, characters and creatures incredibly well. There hasn’t been a One Piece game yet that looks and plays this great. The characters themselves act true to their individual quirks and motivations, even though they’re thrown into a brand new adventure, and the banter between each of the members of the crew and taking the time to speak to each member or npc you come across results in some of the most heartfelt and hilarious moments the game has to offer. So take your time to look around as there’s plenty to see off the main paths and you’re often rewarded for exploring around.
One Piece Odyssey also encourages you to utilise each member of the Straw Hats that are in your current party at any given time too. It’s not just Luffy being the star of the show that you play as in this game. Outside of battle, the world offers plenty to explore, loot to find, characters to interact with as well as dungeons and puzzles to complete. Traversing the world isn’t able to be done using just one character alone, which is why you’re able to switch your player character at any time outside of battle to another member of your current party to utilise their specific skills and access new areas. Luffy is able to stretch and propel himself across great distances, Zoro’s sword provides access to specific areas by slicing through obstacles, Usopp is able to break items and target things from a distance using his sling shot and Chopper comes in real handy when you need to make your way through smaller gaps and tunnels. I loved that the game encourages this character switching and let’s you further experience each character’s strengths and what they bring to the Straw Hats.
When it comes to combat, One Piece Odyssey implements a turn based JRPG combat system, quite reminiscent to what you’ll find in similar games in the genre such as Persona and some Dragon Quest titles. When I saw the first trailer for Odyssey I was so excited by how well the world and characters of One Piece gelled with a turn based, strategic combat system. And after playing it, it just makes so much sense, and is really fun to play around within.
Each character is capable of dishing out a simple attack, using items on themselves or other party members or also performing one signature skill attack on their turn. These skills play into the special abilities and traits their respective characters are known for and can dish out some really flashy looking feats of strength and also play into character weaknesses to turn the tide of battles if you strategically understand the enemies resistances and weaknesses. Occasionally, combat encounters also include what the game refers to as a “Dramatic Scene” which can keep combat encounters a bit more dynamic and interesting by adding in additional tasks to complete that will reward you if you complete the combat in a specific way, such as defeating the enemy with a particular character or within a set amount of turns for example. Completing these successfully typically results in additional XP boosts and additional rewards.
As you progress further through the game, you’ll also be locating additional skill cubes. These are the cubes that contain the skills our characters have lost and can be used to unlock their abilities again and also level up the skills to higher power levels. The skills of each character can be customised and levelled up from the game’s menu once you obtain a cube that’s associated with a particular character and it further allows you to tweak and tailor each of your party members to the way you choose to play them and enhance the abilities you use most. Each character also has an equitable grid of equipment items that can be attached at any one time to also provide additional combat and stat buffs. It’s great to see a lot of care has gone into making the RPG side of the game feel deep and diverse rather than a surface level add on shoehorned into a licensed universe as you really can tailor each character to your liking by enhancing their strengths and trying to buff their weaknesses.
Most of One Piece Odyssey is really impressive, but it’s not without a few notable issues that hold it back from being a perfect game. There are the occasionally framerate drops during certain cutscenes. The combat encounters in some of the areas become really repetitive, and while the combat system is really fun, it does start to lose some of it’s appeal when you’re encountering the same enemy type for the 15th time in the space of a single area or dungeon. Especially in some of the areas that are less open or within smaller spaces where running away or avoiding the encounter is possible, I felt forced to defeat the enemies more in these areas just so they didn’t ambush me when I wasn’t looking and gained a critical hit chance on my team.
The game also features fixed save points. Saving is only possible at specific statues that are scattered around the world, meaning you have to progress specifically to a point where you locate one of these before ending a play session. This is something that used to be quite the norm in many classic JRPGs but most games these days have well and truly moved past this dated design.
Lastly is a smaller issue, and will likely be a non issue to a large number of the One Piece fanbase. But I felt I needed to point out the game’s lack of an English dialogue track. The cutscenes are mostly voiced in the game which is great to see, but in Japanese only. I actually quite enjoy the English dub cast for One Piece (controversial opinion, I know) but I do find it to be more immersive in video games and would have loved to have seen it implemented as an option. Especially when it comes to anime games, having the English actors involved typically shows an extra level of care and effort but is often only experienced in larger scale titles like the Dragon Ball and Naruto games, but One Piece is one of the biggest media franchises in the world and would have loved to have seen the English cast as an option.
It’s clear a lot of effort was taken to get this game just right, it instantly feels higher in quality compared to other One Piece games and does act as a true celebration of One Piece’s 25th anniversary. Odyssey doesn’t just feel like a generic game that’s been created with a licensed anime skin thrown on top like we’ve seen many times in the past with other anime titles. It’s apparent a lot of care was taken across it’s 5 year development time to make sure the game was fun to play, filled with great characters and is enjoyable for players whether they’re existing fans of One Piece or if they’re jumping into the game because they love JRPGs that take players on grand adventures.
If you want to see more content like this and never miss one of our frequent gaming and anime giveaways come and Follow Ani-Game on Twitter.