To celebrate One Piece reaching its 25th anniversary in 2022, Bandai Namco and Toei Animation unveiled all kinds of exciting upcoming media projects. One such announcement featured One Piece Odyssey, a turn-based RPG with an original story that will test the strength of the Straw Hat Crew’s friendships.
Will One Piece Odyssey be a rare treasure that’s able to stand out amongst the droves of turn-based RPGs on the market, or is it just another anime adaptation falling short of its potential?
Of course One Piece Odyssey stands out with Luffy at the helm of proceedings and a host of clever ideas to boot. A word of warning however, there are a few humps to get over before the adventure really begins to shine.
One Piece Odyssey begins with Luffy and his crew sailing the high seas in search of their next adventure. Suddenly, a storm wreaks havoc upon the Thousand Sunny ship and they get washed up on a mysterious island. Upon meeting a couple of the island’s inhabitants, it becomes apparent that escaping this place will be no easy feat; especially when their powers are removed. It’s going to take the whole team to band together if they’re to regain their strength and set sail once more.
As far as the story goes for the Straw Hat Crew, it’s a bit of a hybrid with a fresh-overarching narrative complemented by a retelling of classic tales from the anime. The former involves the island and two new characters created by Eiichiro Oda, delving into their past and present predicaments. Meanwhile, the search for cubes which can reinstate the crew’s powers will take them back in history. This creates a decent balance between old and new content, offering a compromise for returning fans and the newly initiated.
The rehashing of major arcs won’t be for everyone, but being able to incorporate locations such as Alabaster, Water 7 and Marineford through slightly altered memories is better than having just a sole island to explore. What’s more, it allows some of the best characters another chance to shine, both in terms of antagonists and allies. Without these, I fear One Piece Odyssey would be a disappointment as the two new faces aren’t quite interesting enough alone.
The whole vibe of the goings on is great, with the jovial behaviour and happy-go-lucky nature of Luffy alongside the rest of the crew. This helps ensure a lighthearted atmosphere is created, which is confounded further through the brilliantly vibrant visuals used for the characters and most biomes. The Japanese voiceovers, provided by the excellent cast of the anime, bring a real authenticity to everything too.
As for what you’ll actually be doing and focus centres on taking control of the Straw Hat Crew, possessing the ability to switch between them at will. Prepare to roam the land as Luffy, Nami, Chopper, Zoro, Usopp and more, as you progress through the story via the main missions consisting of you following rather rigid routes. It’s generally linear anyway, but occasionally it’s excessively rigid; I mean, it will literally prevent you from taking detours to certain parts of the same area you’re already in. Along the way, you’ll stumble upon encounters against run-of-the-mill enemies, before reaching the climax of the mission; often boss-like battles. No matter the foe, the battles are always turn-based, however not quite as you’d expect.
A Scramble Area Battle system is used here, so at the beginning of an encounter, enemies and your chosen team of four will be placed in different zones within the battlefield. Depending upon the attack of choice, you can target those in your zone or focus your attention on another to aid a teammate in need. Dramatic scenes may also occur during the fight, tasking you with completing a specific objective in return for greater rewards.
Furthermore, a Rock, Paper, Scissors element is present, where Power characters and moves have an advantage over the Speed ones, while Speed trumps Technique and the Technique-based types are the weakness for Power. Throw in the elemental effects and the combination of the above features really add an extra strategic layer to the battling. Although you won’t necessarily realise that’s the case early on in One Piece Odyssey.
Everything is just a bit too easy for the first few hours. In fact, you’re drip fed for longer than is needed and the first real adventure embarked upon actually drags on because of the back and forth nature of it. Fortunately fast-travel is introduced at one point, however it borders on being a bit of a chore gameplay-wise for a little while. A sure sign of its slow start and lack of difficulty initially is how barely any thought goes into your battle actions.
You’ll most likely end up allowing the game to take over by using the auto-battle mode for a while, tackling ape-like Eisas, bats, and bandits. The difficulty does become trickier thankfully and the boss encounters might even require you to switch members out in order to bring in those better suited for the fight. There are a fair few boss-standard enemies to enjoy a skirmish with too, but I shall refrain from spoiling their identities.
It’s good that there’s also a decent amount of choice and variety when it comes down to attacks. Aside from basic attacks, each playable character has a fairly respectable arsenal of signature skills to unlock and they’re all great to watch play out. Whether it’s Luffy’s Gum-Gum-Gatling punches, Zoro’s Three Thousand Worlds sword wielding, Nami’s lightning strike Thunder Bolt Tempo, or Usopp’s hilarious Rubber Band of Doom, the animations never grow old.
Outside of the story-focused sections, One Piece Odyssey is actually quite addictive as you attempt to find treasure, pick up bounties and acquire side quests. Seeking cubes hidden all over is a regular pastime as well, because these improve the powers of the crew. What makes it more interesting is the fact that the unique abilities they have are constantly put to use. For example, traversing hard to reach places, sneak through small passages, hitting nests with a slingshot, unearthing currency, and building bridges.
Ultimately, One Piece Odyssey is a darn good RPG, but it’s hampered by being very slow out of the blocks. This will put a lot of people off. You absolutely should stick with it though, for there’s much enjoyment to be had through the main story and the exploration aspects. It’s full of fun characters, humorous situations and, thanks to the memory aspect, a regular dose of nostalgia. The battling is exciting as well, with cool moves and a real need for strategy to succeed against the toughest foes.
Join the Straw Hat Crew in One Piece Odyssey and you won’t regret it.
One Piece Odyssey is available on Xbox Series X|S via the Xbox Store