Lost Odyssey is a JRPG about an immortal amnesiac mercenary and his quest to regain his memories and discover his purpose. My overall review is positive; while the gameplay mechanics are mediocre at best, the story and music are emotionally powerful 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. His arc is emotionally powerful, central to the plot, and revealed in the beginning and resolved in the end; he has a very deep background that we learn about gradually throughout the game, and he has plenty of agency. Most of the other characters are also really good, Seth in particular gets a shoutout.

  2. The portrayal of child characters is very refreshing. Two of the party members are little kids, and their portrayal is very two-sided. On the positive hand, they save the adults multiple times, are playable in battle (they have believable reasons to be powerful), and have reasonably deep personalities. 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 really good. While it's bad that most of the explanation was hidden away in an optional dungeon, there was no Deus Ex Machina and the triumph came with a touching sacrifice and an awesome choice the main character was 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:

  1. Two of the party members are rulers and they aren't portrayed as bad for it.

  2. 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).

  3. Both of the romances are very poor. Neither pair seems to have much chemistry.

  4. Both villains are really disappointing. One is a generic power-hungry world-conquerer and the other is completely incompetent and used for comic relief several times.

  5. The battle system is my biggest criticism gameplay-wise. It's low-skill and there are often situations where you simply can't win if your characters aren't at a high enough level. The amount of work you have to do outside of battle managing skill links and stuff is also more drudgery than fun.

  6. Another major design failure gameplay-wise is that you can't see exact information on how the battle system works. 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 make it not a flaw. Every game should show you all the information there is to know about it's rules.

  7. The nudity is ridiculous. All four of the female party members are scantily dressed, and two of them have their breasts blatantly exposed. There's no denying it's done just to pander.

  8. The game doesn't take advantage of its interactive format to enhance the story at all. Instead, Kaim's background is communiated through long reading sequences that you can be forgiven for skipping - or rather, that you could be if the story wasn't so damn good.

  9. A small amount of crude humor. (There's a scene where gas is released into a room full of soldiers that changes them all into women's underwear.)