Ragnarok Odyssey ACE Review
Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is an RPG for the PS Vita and PS3, based around Norse mythology and taking place in the universe of Ragnarok Online, an MMORPG that debuted in 2003. The game is a slightly modified and expanded version of Ragnarok Odyssey, which released exclusively for the PlayStation Vita in 2013. Essentially a “1.5” version of that game, Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is an RPG with multiplayer capabilities, at the ready.
I started off creating a character, choosing from various hair colors, hairstyles, faces, and one of the six main classes (Sword Warrior, Hammersmith, Assassin, Mage, Cleric, Hunter). After a debriefing with a group of three characters and a lengthy explanation of who you are what what needs to be done, you’re free to leap headlong into the world of Ragnarok Odyssey ACE. I was excited, and ready to meet other players. Since I first heard about this game and watched trailers, it looked like there’d be massive raiding parties, woven together to annihilate the creatures and the inevitable world boss!
The world was strangely empty. I was only allowed to visit one room, and here I could buy potions and cards, change my wardrobe, and accept quests. This is the main hub of the game, where you’ll spend the majority of your time. I eventually learned that there is a town outside of this, where you can craft and buy weapons, change your appearance, buy new costumes, and so forth.
There’s also a tavern, that kept telling me that I couldn’t enter multiplayer mode yet. Yes! That’s where all the people must have been. I was excited to get through the first chapter, so that I could see this town full of other players. You know, like most online games? However, multiplayer is simply relegated to a party of 4. Players can make or join rooms, where up to three others can jump in to help in quests or boss battles. You never get to see more than three other players, which was disappointing. I wanted to visit a sprawling metropolis of Ragnarok fans. That said, adventuring with actual players was a highlight of the game!
I accepted my first quest via the maid at the counter, and entered the first dungeon. You choose your destination from a menu screen, where you can eventually select various chapters, as well as up to two computer controlled companions to take into the field.
Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is action-based, which is good, since I’m not to keen on the idea of of cool-downs and waiting for my attacks to refresh before I can use them again. You have a normal attack, a stronger attack, a jump, and a dodge. Then, while holding onto the shoulder buttons, you can run, enter a mode that makes you stronger — known as Dainsleif Mode — or cast magic/special abilities. Action is very fluid, and the controls respond well during combat. In the beginning you have a lot to mess with, and battles can be pretty engaging.
Strength is dictated by the use of cards. Each card has a different statistic, like “Attack Level 3”, which increases your damage output; other cards add elements to your attacks, upgrade your defense, or give you more HP. In order to equip these cards, there are slots in clothing. Each piece of clothing has a set amount of slots, that can be increased by going to the tailor. Thus, you can only have a set amount of cards on each piece of clothing, which limits your strength.
You can also buy weapons, and increase their stats, which ultimately makes you stronger as well. However, none of these ever give you any new attacks or special moves. Throughout the majority of the game, you spend money on cards, upgrading your clothing slots, and paying to make your weapon stronger, and even then your strength is hardly noticeably improved. There isn’t a clear progression from where you start, to where you begin to notice your character becoming a bit more formidable.
Character progression is also hampered by the fact that when you clear a dungeon, you only get random items. You never gain anything significant, and it all ends up either sitting in your inventory or being sold, so you can spend more gold updating the rest of your gear.
Boss battles are pretty epic. Usually, at the end of a chapter, there’s a larger-than-life beast that gets their own cutscene, and a name flashes onto the screen to introduce you to this monstrosity. It’s during these battles that Ragnarok Odyssey ACE shines, since they are all different, and require thoughtful strategies to defeat. You can’t just wail on the same buttons and expect to be victorious. Every boss has a unique set of moves, and you need to watch their animations in order to dodge some truly devastating attacks — some of which can kill you in one hit. They’re very exciting, and break up the monotony of the standard dungeon runs.
Speaking of dungeons, there are about sixteen different areas to explore in the whole game. On their own, each area is pretty unique, and amazing to look at and explore. Especially the library tower, and the world in the clouds! There are some really breathtaking locales. Sadly, each chapter rehashes a lot of these levels, using the same layout and monsters with hardly any variation, except for the occasional monster swap in later chapters. Even the layout of dungeons are very linear, and do not allow you to explore, which I feel is a missed opportunity. I’d love to freely explore this world! You’re usually locked into small corridors that lead to a room, that lead to another narrow passage, that eventually leads to the level being cleared. Next time? Add a boss.
I for one didn’t mind it so much, and really enjoyed playing and running dungeons, once I understood what the main ideas were about. Once I got over what I thought Ragnarok was supposed to be, I was able to sit back and experience what it is. In the end, Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is a decent dungeon crawler. It’s good. No more, no less. It is fun for awhile if you enjoy level grinding, without the actual payoff of achieving a higher level, and multiplayer changes the dynamic of running solo just enough to keep it interesting. There are a lot of great moments to experience in Ragnarok Odyssey ACE, but I just wish there was a bit more to it.