Science & Technology



Review: Ingenious storytelling sets ‘One Piece Odyssey’ apart from past games


Published in Science & Technology News

When it comes to manga, “One Piece” is widely considered a masterpiece, but the only issue is that the long-running pirate saga still hasn’t ended. After more than 1,000 chapters and 25 years, author Eiichiro Oda said he’s at last on the final arc, but even that won’t wrap up anytime soon.

The ongoing nature of the narrative has always been one of the problems facing “One Piece” video games. Because it’s so story-driven and the future is murky, developers can never get a handle on how a character matures or how a plot unfolds. It’s like riding a train while workers build the track a few yards ahead. At best, teams convey an incomplete tale, and at worst, they wing it and make some monstrous changes to the plot.

“One Piece Odyssey,” a Japanese role-playing game developed by ILCA, doesn’t fall into this trap. The studio cleverly writes around this challenge while paying homage to some of the best chapters in the series.

The developers accomplish this by setting the series on the mysterious island of Waford. It’s inhabited by strange colossi, pesky creatures and two enigmatic inhabitants, Adio and Lim. Luffy and his Straw Hats crew stumble on the island and end up shipwrecked. Fearful of the pirates, Lim uses her power to take away their abilities and convert them into cubes.

After discussing the misunderstanding, Lim agrees to help the Straw Hats regain their abilities, but they’ll have to travel to Memoria, the World of Memories. That takes the crew back to the adventures of the past, which includes romps through Alabasta, Water Seven, Marineford and Dressrosa. It’s an ingenious way to let fans revisit some of the best arcs in the saga without straying too far from canon.



Because this takes place in memories, the trips through Memoria aren’t carbon copies of previous storylines. Characters who were not around in one arc are written out or find ways to be useful elsewhere to avoid messing with the narrative. But for the most part, the plots stay true to the source material, though ILCA adapts it to the JRPG gameplay.

Luffy and his friends will battle enemies mostly as a team. Each member has a special attack trait — power, speed or technique — and each one is strong against one and weak against another in a rock-, paper- and scissors-fashion. Using the right character against an enemy is key to efficiently wiping out foes, but the developer also layers positioning and status effects into the combat.

When entering a turn-based fight, the team fans out into different zones to take on enemies. If it’s a bad matchup, they can normally switch out crew members without a penalty. It takes time to learn the specialties of each hero and what their attacks do. Zoro’s sword-focused techniques inflict bleeding while some of Usopp’s long-range speed attacks deal burn damage. Players will find several factors to juggle when directing members of the crew, but that provides enough depth that combat isn’t boring.



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