There is something to be said about building a game around a given mechanic, if the mechanic can stand on its own. Ragnarok Odyssey is a grinder, in that this encompasses the entire game. If you are looking for a hacky-slashy, dungeon crawler, then Ragnarok Odyssey is certainly the game for you.
The game starts out with character creation. You choose your class, gender and starting appearance. Then there is a one-sided expositional conversation (your character is mute in true old-fashioned RPG tradition!) within the starting area for your missions, Fort Farthest. You are a new recruit in a mercenary band commissioned by the king to stop the onslaught of monsters from overrunning the world of man. That’s about it as far as story goes. From there, you pick up quests from the quest counter, and head out for adventure. You run through a pre-marked, linear course killing monsters and breaking boxes for loot. And when you have killed a specific number of monsters, or collected the required number of items, or the time runs out, or you get killed too many times, you pop right back into Fort Farthest beside the quest counter.
Loot from missions can be used to create or upgrade outfits, weapons and headgear. Or you can sell it, or store it in your closet back at the Fort. You can also link up with friends and take on particuarly hard missions (found at the Fort's tavern) together in multiplayer mode. It is interesting to note that you do not grind to upgrade your character's stats, as your character has none. All of your skills and stats come in the form of cards which can be swapped out at any time, with a set number of cards able to be equipped to each outfit. If you upgrade your outfit, you can equip more cards to it. Your weapon upgrades and weapon strength determine your attack attributes. Your headgear and stylist fees determine your character's appearance.
The fighting and the hacky-slashy dungeon-crawling bits are done well, with jumping and enemy launching mechanics, power up moves and other tactics that adds flare and fun to battles. And there is definite strategy involved in the larger fights, especially against giants. The combat really gets fun when you start to get more powers and better weapons. The skill cards you need to pump up your character can either be found at the card counter between missions, or on dead monsters as loot.
For what it is, Ragnarok Odyssey is a beautiful game that offers a light and entertaining experience. It’s not a sweeping epic in terms of story, but if you are looking for a running, dungeon crawling, monster killing game with loads of customization and item stat building then this is the Vita game for you!
Hint: Make sure to check for upgrades at the clothier and blacksmith stands in the courtyard between every mission, this and the cards are your ONLY way to level up your character. So do so early and frequently.
by Eric Rekow