Lost Odyssey is a JRPG about an immortal amnesiac mercenary and his quest to regain his memories and discover his purpose. My overall verdict is slightly favorable; while the game is mediocre at best, the story and music are good enough to make up for it. This game made me cry (albeit, I played it several years ago, back when I cried a lot more easily).

Here are some particular points I want to praise the story for:

  1. The main character is strong. I use him as an example in my article on hero design. He sees his immortality as a curse and his arc is about coming to terms with it. It's handled excellently, central to the plot, revealed in the beginning and resolved in the end; he has a very deep background that we learn about gradually throughout the game; and his badassery complements his emotional vulnerabilities. He isn't confined to a single mood; he behaves like a coherent, believable person. Most of the other characters are also really good, Seth in particular gets a shoutout.

  2. The story makes very good use of child characters. Two of the party members are little kids, and they get both sides of things. On one hand, they save the adults multiple times, are playable in battle (they have magic energy), and have personalities that are more than stereotypes. On the other hand, they do act their age; they get scared of the monsters and hide behind the adults in at least one cutscene, cry several times, and do some really imprudent things when the adults aren't around and need to be saved by them.

  3. The ending is excellent. While it's horrible that most of the explanation is hidden away in an optional dungeon, it all makes sense if you do understand it, there's no Deus Ex Machina and the triumph comes with a sacrifice and an awesome choice the main character is forced to make.

  4. The game has good humor! I know this is a relatively small point, but I thought I'd mention it.

I'll also make a list of criticisms, gameplay first:

  1. The battle system is a typical JRPG one. It's low-skill, and while normal fights are balanced so you should never lose, bad luck or being underleveled can easily trump good play in a boss fight. The amount of work you have to do outside of battle managing skill links and stuff is also more drudgery than fun.

  2. Another major failure of the battle system is that you can't see quantitative information. You can see a description of a spell you learn that says it increases the attack power of an ally, but it doesn't say by how much. I know this is standard industry practice, but that doesn't excuse it. Every game should show you all the information there is to know about it's rules.

  3. Two of the party members are rulers. I don't consider it a deal-breaker because the story also keeps the evils of government offscreen and unmentioned, so it's more turning a blind eye than consciously justifying evil. It's only standard fare for a fantasy story.

  4. There are a couple of scenes that invoke the misandrist trope of asymmetric violence rules, but it's not a huge deal because the victim is always a character who is one of the least deserving of glorification, and most of the time it isn't outright legitimized; one of the times another character vaguely criticizes it, another time it's partially defensible. The worst example is in a fairly hidden optional scene. So it's a massive improvement over FF13 in this regard.

  5. The magic system is a typical obfuscated magic system, and it is used for a Deus Ex Machina at least once (when the Uhran mage teleports Tolten and Seth out of the snowstorm in Gohtza).

  6. Both of the romances are poor. One pair seems to have no chemistry at all (it's actually very similar to Han/Leia except without the abuse) and the other is believable but it's a stretch.

  7. Both villains are poor. One is a generic power-hungry world-conquerer (albeit he isn't strawman chaotic evil; his actions are at least plausibly explicable) and the other is completely incompetent and used for comic relief several times. On the bright side, he is legitimately good comic relief.

  8. The nudity pandering is ridiculous. All four of the female party members are scantily dressed, and two of them have their breasts blatantly exposed. It's not remotely defendable.

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