One Piece Odyssey review - A fitting tribute to the Straw Hat Pirates
One Piece Odyssey brings together two great things: Eiichiro Oda’s epic manga and turn-based JRPGs. After getting hands-on with the game last month, my desire to play more grew, and thankfully, I wasn’t let down. Bandai Namco’s latest JRPG is a blast to play, and you also don’t have to be entirely caught up with the anime or manga to enjoy it.
The Straw Hat Pirates get caught up in a new adventure on a mysterious island, which isn’t all that unusual for this group of anime characters. It takes place on the island of Walford. Despite Eiichiro Oda’s involvement in the game, One Piece Odyssey is not canon. That should make it easier for everyone to enjoy.
One Piece Odyssey tells a new and familiar tale at the same time
I feel like all I’ve done lately is absorb myself in One Piece Odyssey. It’s an incredibly satisfying game, and despite taking place on a relatively small island, there is so much to see and do. One of the major themes of the story appears to be memories. After all, you dive back into the memories of the Straw Hat Pirates, going through four classic storylines.
Alabasta, Water 7, Dressrosa, and Marineford are all represented in One Piece Odyssey. However, you’ll also learn that things aren’t exactly as you remember. Why? Memories can often be fuzzy, and we misremember things. Such a clever concept helped me get invested in the story.
You can unlock your abilities again by finding Memory Cubes. Each Memory Cube is linked to a character and lets you put a skill point in one of that character’s current abilities. Some abilities won’t be able to be upgraded right away, though.
All the characters also have a useful purpose on the maps of the One Piece Odyssey. Chopper gets through tight places, Luffy stretches to far-off items and grapple points, Nami finds money, and Sanji finds rare cooking ingredients. Your party will alert you when they should swap out front, too.
One Piece Odyssey has a pretty smooth gameplay loop. Explore a series of ruins on Waford. Between these, you dive into the realm known as Memoria. This is how you gain access to past One Piece stories.
Even if you’re familiar with One Piece, you won't see stories quite how you remember them. You don’t go through every single Alabasta fight, for example. Think of these stories as abridged versions of story arcs you play throughout One Piece Odyssey.
Was a turn-based JRPG the right choice for the One Piece Odyssey?
One Piece Odyssey was made a turn-based RPG to make it accessible to many players. The combat itself is pretty easy to learn. You have four Straw Hat Pirates in the main combat lineup at a time.
However, you can swap out a character, provided the character in the party hasn’t acted yet. You can swap Nami out for Tony Tony Chopper if you want to drop an AOE heal. You can’t swap him back out again until the next turn.
Each character has an HP and TP bar, with TP being the cost for all pirates’ special attacks. As the game progresses, you’ll unlock more and more attacks, such as Gear 2 and Gear 3 for Luffy and Zoro’s Rashomon strike.
When you use basic attacks, you build up TP, but you can also eat Excite Apples/certain meals to restore this. One Piece Odyssey also uses a Rock-Paper-Scissors system, so each attack has a typing: Power, Speed, Technique. The chart is always on display in battle, so you always know where to stand against your foes.
One Piece Odyssey’s battle system has the pirates grouped into “areas” in battle. You can move to other areas when your enemies are clear, and some attacks can attack any foe on the field, regardless of your area.
You also have abilities that can attack every enemy on the field. While I love that you slowly build up more and more attacks, it can feel like your previous abilities will be less useful as the game progresses. It’s power creep, but at least the game gives you a way to make sure when you upgrade abilities, it's not permanent.
Any time you aren’t in combat, you can go to your upgrade menu, take Memory Cubes out of your ability, and rotate them elsewhere. This means you can always have a loadout that fits the battles you’re about to go through.
As you progress through the game, you’ll also start unlocking team-up moves, which cost Bond Points. These points are straightforward to rake up as you fight, and the team-up moves are overwhelmingly powerful. They’re fun to use and can help turn the tide in dire battles. Thankfully, you don’t have to have people in battle - one will do. They do, however, have to be with your party.
You’ll spend a lot of time in combat, but this is not a game that requires much in the way of grinding. You’ll often see Dramatic Scenes. They reward you with bonus XP and items if you come out victorious.
These usually involve defeating an enemy quickly or clearing an area before a few turns pass. Most Dramatic Scenes in One Piece Odyssey are straightforward to win if you’re paying attention, but often, the enemy will go first and defeat the target you’re trying to protect in your party.
It didn’t happen to me often, but it is something to be accounted for. If you’re keeping up with your cooking, you can throw an item to revive an ally. I didn’t find I needed to grind at all, but these Dramatic Scenes made fighting in earlier areas worth engaging in. You’ll have to backtrack in the game if you want to do everything.
Overall, combat is a lot of fun. The attacks look great, the characters clearly voice their attacks, and they chatter back and forth occasionally in fights. While you aren’t in combat, you can throw parties at campsites, which allow you to craft Trick Balls, cook meals, and, eventually, craft accessories.
Since the Straw Hat Pirates don’t need new weapons, that’s where your equipment is found. You can primarily buy these from vendors, but you can also fuse them. The higher Nico Robin’s craft skill is, the more slots you can fit on one piece of gear.
Side Quests exist, but can be incredibly frustrating
I love a good side quest, and One Piece Odyssey has many. Whether looking for Eye-lashes the Camel or taking part in quizzes, there is a lot to do. However, I had one major problem: the map does not track what you are doing in these side quests.
Once you’ve taken on a quest, you only get a vague hint of what to do next in your quest log. You can’t track them or change your current goal in any way. When you complete these side quests in One Piece Odyssey, I hope you remember where the quest giver was. It might be a minor thing to quibble over, but it’s worth mentioning. It was one of the few genuine complaints I had about the game.
What frustrated me was when it would tell me to look at a particular city section. That should be fine, but when you pull up the map, it doesn’t tell you what each map sector is. You have to remember or explore until you find the right spot.
Thankfully, this didn’t happen with Bounty Hunting targets. You can easily see them on the map and track them down. There are also several ways to travel fast around maps, so at least you can get around quickly.
Visuals and audio do not disappoint in One Piece Odyssey
One Piece Odyssey is gorgeous. Waford is a joy to explore, and each Memoria area looks exactly like in the anime. The graphics of this game do not disappoint, from the characters to the world itself.
The music is also solid. There weren't any songs I found myself humming offline, but during gameplay, it was entertaining. It has a good soundtrack, and the songs are thematically relevant.
The best part of the audio is the One Piece voice cast. The original Japanese cast is back, just like the anime. Sanji and Zoro bicker back and forth, Nami screams at them for it, and Dread Captain Usopp always seems to know exactly when to retreat. I loved hearing the character dialog in One Piece Odyssey. I’m sure fans of the series will feel the same way.
I adored One Piece Odyssey. It was an excellent way to start 2023, that’s for sure. It’s a solid, enjoyable JRPG, and it’s not a game you will complete overnight. The story is good and the turn-based combat is enjoyable. I loved the character interactions, and playing this game brought back some fond memories of watching One Piece back in the day.
One of my only complaints was how it handles Side Quests, a small issue in the grand scheme. One Piece Odyssey is the best One Piece game I’ve played in years. It has all the heart and soul the previous games lacked and was gorgeous. Fans of Eiichiro Oda’s anime won’t want to miss out.
One Piece Odyssey
Reviewed On: PlayStation 5
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Windows
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Release Date: January 13, 2022