One Piece Odyssey (Xbox and PC) Review

We are, we are on the cruise!
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Few anime videogame adaptations take as much advantage of the source material as they could. With such a vast library of characters and locations, it’s a shame most are adapted into fighting games or brawlers. More developers need to take risks and use that untapped potential. If you want an example of what I mean, consider Ubisoft’s long-forgotten and now-delisted Naruto: Rise of a Ninja games. It was a series that combined great combat with a deep and expansive. At long last, One Piece Odyssey looks set to scratch the same itch.

Meet the Straw Hat crew

One Piece Odyssey, from developer ILCA, is the latest video game adaptation based on Eiichiro Oda’s long-running Shonen series. The games have been popular and become a household name for fans of anime, and One Piece Odyssey is set to satisfy existing fans and hopefully bring more on board.

One Piece Odyssey functions as a One Piece-twist on the traditional JRPG structure, placing you in the shoes of the famous Straw Hat pirates. After encountering some wild phenomena on the high seas, the Straw Hat gang is shipwrecked on the mythical island of Waford. In classic JRPG fashion, you start off with a powered-up crew but they’re soon stripped of their abilities and strength. The only way to get their powers back – and hopefully a new ship – is to journey across the mysterious island.

In addition to plenty of turned-based battling, the Straw Hats have to solve mysteries, collect memory cubes, and then journey through their collective past to defeat foes that’ll be familiar to fans of the anime. The game is full of lore and references to the show, so One Piece should get a kick out of seeing some of their favourite characters appear.

Mechanically, it plays like a traditional JRPG from the last couple of years but it also features some welcome changes to the formula that other developers should take note of. The visuals are fantastic and highlight Oda’s unique character designs and art style, while the way it plays and looks might feel similar to the Dragon Quest RPGs if you’re not familiar with the anime.

As you might expect, there are plenty of large locations for you to explore; tons of townsfolk, merchants, and quest-givers to speak to, items to collect, and large bosses to fight. It’s traditional but excellent.

One of the elements that set One Piece Odyssey apart from many modern JRPGs – and modern RPGs in general – is the overwhelming sense of happy-go-lucky optimism from the Straw Hat crew. Despite dropping the crew into a world fraught with peril, every member of the crew and their interaction are captivating, entertaining, and almost always left me with a smile on my face.

One Piece Odyssey has such a large cast but they all get a decent amount of attention. To ensure fans can use their favourites, you’re able to switch up the members of your party at any time when in the field.

Some crew members will join and leave your party as the story dictates, but you typically have a lot of freedom in picking who you want to fill your party of four. Better still, One Piece Odyssey always notifies you when a new or alternate character is available so you never feel like you’re missing out on potential party interactions.

You’re going to want to mix up your party as you go as each character has specific skills that come in handy during both exploration and combat. Examples include using Luffy’s stretchy abilities to snag items from far away or pull your party to distant locations; using Nami’s senses to find hidden money, or using Zorro’s katana to cut through metal doors and crates.

It’s not all just open-world explorations and combat as there are plenty of dungeons to break up that gameplay loop. They usually include light puzzle-orientated scenarios, some tough battles, and rewards, making them fun and worthwhile excursions.

Memorable memoria

As an attempt to educate new fans and entertain old fans, you’ll be spending a lot of time in “Memoria” – memory recreations of some of One Piece‘s most notable, fan-favourite story arcs. They’re a “What if…” storytelling exercise to see what would have happened if events didn’t play out exactly as the heroes remember.

These work well as it lets veterans relive some of their favourite moments from the franchise, while still adding an element of surprise thanks to the memory twist. On the other hand, newcomers get a summarised version of the “story so far” and hopefully a taste of what makes the Straw Hat crew so lovable to existing fans.

Memorias are not just side activities to connect the events of the game to the anime universe – they’re vital to progressing the main campaign and important to the overarching narrative that sees new character Lim discovering the bonds of friendship. Oh, and they’re essential to restoring the crew’s lost abilities.

Within the Memoria are fractured bits of memory called “Hysteria” that task a set group of characters to explore and complete a memory branch. These are always worth doing because they unlock the game’s best attacks – super abilities – that do massive damage in ridiculously enjoyable and flashy ways.

I’ve seen this somewhere before…

One Piece Odyssey‘s combat is enjoyable but as traditional as it comes. It’s a turn-based system with a rock-paper-scissors dynamic for character types. It’s similar to something like Fire Emblem‘s “Weapon Triangle” with a twist. You’ve got speed, power, and technique – each of which is strong against one type and weak against another.

This adds a nice layer of depth and strategy that doesn’t allow you to power through fights without paying attention. Even when you fight several creatures of the same type, their attribute types might be different and force a different approach. The good news is that you can always swap characters in and out at any time without using up a turn.

Combat is further complicated by the fact the battlefield is often broken up into areas randomly. This means you could have one character going up against multiple enemies while another character is isolated. You can always move characters between areas to assist teammates but only once they’ve defeated any enemies in their current area.

Another entertaining addition, often a helpful one, is the random objectives pop up in each fight. These might task you with defeating a specific enemy with a specific character, or clearing all enemies with a number of turns. It strikes a good balance between risk and reward, as some of these tasks are very dangerous but will reward you with a massive XP bonus at the end of the fight if you pull it off. If you’re looking to level up quickly and efficiently, it often only takes a few battles with successfully completed objectives.

Thankfully – and this really should be standard by now – all party members receive the XP from every fight, regardless of whether they participated.

That Eiichiro Oda style is something else

There’s no arguing One Piece Odyssey is not an attractive game. It’s not cel-shaded in the traditional sense but the developers have managed to capture Oda’s designs and styles in the textures, which have a hand-shaded look to them. The character models are detailed and feature great animation – especially when they’re pulling off special abilities and attacks.

If you’re playing on consoles, the game offers a “performance” or “graphics” mode, both of which seem to run well at their target framerates but you’ll see more stutters using the graphics mode. As we’ve come to expect from next-gen hardware, you can expect super-fast load times on the Xbox Series consoles (and presumably PlayStation 5 too). On PC, the game managed to run flawlessly at all times, even on what is now a mid-range 3rd generation Ryzen 5 3600, paired with an Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU and 16GB of DDR4 RAM. Of course, this may differ depending on your specific configuration but it doesn’t require a high-end machine to run well.

In general, production values are impressive, with the show’s cast returning to voice their respective characters here. Just note there isn’t an English language track for the game though, so if you’re a fan of the One Piece English dub, you’re out of luck here.

Piratical pacing

Of course, nothing is perfect and One Piece Odyssey has issues with the combat difficulty and the pacing – especially the first Memoria sequence in Arabasta.

Initially, the combat feels too easy, even after you’ve lost all your abilities. Within the first two hours, it’s not hard to hit level 20 before a large difficulty jump moving into the first Memoria sequence. It’s jarring as even taking into account the attribute system, enemies suddenly hit harder and fights lasted much longer.

Right after this sequence, it feels like the difficulty drops off before another steep rise just before you hit the ending. Few things are more jarring in a JRG than when a mini-boss encounter is harder than a main boss – and this happens more than a few times.

Storywise, there’s the Arabasta arc that I enjoyed but it ran on far too long – padded out with too many back-and-forth quests. Both the main and secondary quests often felt like busywork or filler. Subsequent Memoria sequences and journeys across the main island sections flew by in comparison.

We are, we are on the cruise!

The last thing to touch on is whether you need to be a One Piece fan to enjoy One Piece Odyssey. Long-time fans will definitely get more out of the game and its cast, but the Memoria sequences provide more than enough context for newcomers. The writers have done an admirable job of packing the Memoria sections with the best moments from the show, while load screen tips and banter between the crew fills in the rest.

Overall, with great production values, traditional but enjoyable gameplay, and a cheerful atmosphere, One Piece Odyssey is one of the best anime and manga videogame adaptations in years. Not only that, but it does plenty mechanically that other JRPGs could emulate. Whether you’re a One Piece veteran, new to the series, or just after a great JRPG, One Piece Odyssey is a journey you should be taking.

One Piece Odyssey (Xbox and PC) Review

One Piece Odyssey (Xbox and PC) Review
8 10 0 1
8/10
Total Score
  • Story
    8/10 Very Good
  • Gameplay
    8/10 Very Good
  • Visuals
    8/10 Very Good
  • Audio
    8/10 Very Good

The Good

  • The charming Straw Hat pirates and their cheerful attitude
  • Rock-paper-scissors combat forces that forces you to pay attention
  • Swapping characters in and out during combat or exploration
  • Distinctive visuals and expressive animations

The Bad

  • The difficulty level fluctuates
  • The early Alabasta and Memoria sections drag on
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