Preview: Odin Sphere Leifthrasir addresses the aging issue

Some games age well; others don’t. It’s always a gamble, wondering how well your favorite will or won’t hold up 5, 10, maybe even 20 years later. The original Odin Sphere was released in May 2007 and seems as though it’s transitioned well. Vanillaware’s Odin Sphere Leifthrasir feels like it goes out of its way to modernize a classic by transcending former limits.

It’s noticeable at a glance. Odin Sphere is a pretty game. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is even prettier. It’s been upgraded to an HD experience in this remake, with characters, enemies and environments looking better than ever before. The supplementary text appears as pages in a library, instead of a brief aside in a menu. Maps are far more detailed and lavish, so it looks better and is easier to see what lies ahead. The cosmetic changes make it look good, but also provide us with more information. It feels like Vanillaware couldn’t make the game as intricate as it wanted, due to the PlayStation 2’s limitations, and the HD upgrades offered by the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita now make the formerly impossible possible.

odin sphere leifthrasir attack

If you don’t see the difference when first looking at Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, it’ll be evident the second you start to play. The battle system has been entirely overhauled. It feels easier to chain combos. There isn’t a POW gauge holding you back with the threat of being momentarily incapacitated if you trigger too many attacks. Phozons are drawn to your character, eliminating the need to pause in the middle of a battle to suck them in so they aren’t lost. Limitations are lifted! Some of Odin Sphere’s difficulty comes from constricting players, and this new incarnation’s Refined Mode lets you avoid that.

This shows up with the leveling system as well. The original Odin Sphere behaves as though it knows what’s best for you. It doles out skills when it feels like it, leveling up the Psypher weapons as it deems necessary. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir has a more traditional leveling system. Experience is earned from attacking and eating. Leveling up gives you points to place into attributes you choose. You decide which special abilities you want to invest phozons in, rather than the game deciding what’s best for you. Again, former bonds have been broken. I was adequate at Odin Sphere, but getting to decide how Gwendolyn grew in her storyline made me an Odin Sphere Leifthrasir master.

odin sphere leifthrasir organization

Even the incidentals are altered in a way to improve and encourage their use. In the original Odin Sphere, your characters couldn’t voluntarily release phozons. You had to plant seeds in the midst of a fight, forcing you to multitask and keep an eye on them while they grew. Being able to expend phozons from your Psypher weapon at will is a wonderful change. Alchemy lets you mix potions as needed, rather than depending on drops or shops. Items are separated into sections in bags, letting you easily find the snack or potion you need. It’s much easier to work with what your character has on hand, instead of having to micromanage or multitask. You attention isn’t divided, because now you have more options.

Those same options open up for culinary experiences. You had to rely on grown, purchase or prepared food between chapters in Odin Sphere. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir has Maury’s Touring Restaurant setting up shop at each rest stop. You can enjoy momentary feasts to increase health and experience throughout levels. It gives you more opportunities to better yourself as you go along, without having to rely on interim activities and hope they’re enough to get you through future encounters. Again, there are fewer restraints on you as you play.

odin sphere phozons

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is about expanding your gaming horizons. Vanillaware clearly looked at what the original Odin Sphere does and doesn’t let you do. It then adjusted the remake accordingly. Now that the former binds are lifted, the Refined Mode gives us a new way to play. Combined with the Classic Mode that revisits the original version, we’re given an iteration that shows the game’s growth and gives it a better job of being something we’ll enjoy as much 10 or 20 years from now as we do now.

Questions? Comments? Talk to us on Twitter or Facebook!