ONE PIECE ODYSSEY — My First Hour of Gameplay
Find out what I experienced!
ONE PIECE ODYSSEY is just within our reach, and I had the pleasure of trying it out and experiencing the first hour of gameplay.
Now, full disclosure: I'm not a fan of One Piece — I have no problem with the anime, more so that I've never watched a single episode of it. Going into the game, I was looking forward to learning two things. First: how the first hour of gameplay works, especially as a fan of basically every Bandai Namco title. And second: how I'd feel about the game as someone who's never watched a single minute of One Piece.
Starting off, you get a quick introduction before the title screen showing how the Straw Hat Crew — consisting of Luffy, Nami, Usopp, Sanji, Chopper, Robin, Franky, Zoro, and Brook — ended up on this mysterious new island in their search for a new adventure. This cutscene introduces you to the characters briefly, showcasing their abilities as they pass through a thundercloud that wrecks The Thousand Sunny (the crew’s ship) and strands them on the island.
The cutscene, and beginning scenes, do little to introduce you to the characters and their backstory, but knowledge of anime tropes in characters allows you to grasp their personalities quickly — something I appreciated. Soon enough, I felt I knew the Straw Hat Crew for way longer than the few minutes I had, thanks to clear dynamics that made connecting to them easier. One Piece Odyssey does a great job at introducing you to numerous mechanics (more on that later), and this applies to the cast as well.
Luffy soon wakes up on the shore, with Franky, Sanji, Usopp, and Chopper watching over him as Zoro, Nami, Brook, and — perhaps most importantly — Luffy's hat have gone missing. The crew quickly gather together, and the game gives you control over Luffy. You can explore the closed area by running around, using E to interact with items in the environment to get Luffy's thoughts on them, and numerous markers on characters to hint at what you need to do next. To go on a search for the missing crew, you'll need to gather all of the ones that were together and head on out to search for them, where you'll first find Nami in the distance — in a hilariously-named area, King Kong Garden — where she's being held captive by... you guessed it, a giant gorilla.
Here, you'll experience your first fighting sequences, the game will slowly introduce increasingly-complex mechanics to its turn-based RPG combat system. One Piece Odyssey masterfully taught me its complex mechanics thanks to its slow introduction, making its otherwise complicated battle system very easy to get ahold of and enjoy.
Another disclaimer I'd like to make is that I'm not a fan of turn-based combat systems — it's been something I've battled with for the longest time. That said, in the first hour I had with One Piece Odyssey, I thoroughly enjoyed the system. With an abundant amount of characters, skills, and mechanics, the game feels like more than just a spam-your-strongest-ability fest and forces a bit more thought, with a rock-paper-scissors mechanic, plentiful TP for special abilities, and an "area" system that forces you to work through the battlefield strategically. My usual problem with these games is that their systems boil down to something far too simple for my enjoyment, and these mechanics might just be good enough to allow me to work through the game.
Combat allows you to swap freely between characters in each area, allowing you to use the right ones for each occasion. Obviously, since I merely experienced the first hour, this could grow far more complex than I might be able to manage, but the fighting system was definitely enjoyable and something I look forward to testing out a bit more.
Dramatic Scenes happen in battles sometimes, which will ask you to complete a certain task within each fight to get extra XP. So far, I experienced two in my playthrough, featuring "Save Usopp Before He Dies", where he gets paralyzed and surrounded by a colony of cannibalistic (and goofy-looking) penguins. The other was to heal a character from critical health to above 25%, both of which worked as a tutorial for the Area and Item systems, respectively.
The fighting is smooth and fast-paced, and fighting Del Kong (the first tutorial boss) gives a feel as to how I hope combat evolves in future encounters. Switching between characters can ensure you leave strong ones in certain areas, change to those that are benched from the fight, and has no punishments for doing it too many times — something that soothed my anxiety after I made three mistakes on my switching and thought "surely I'll get stopped now". It's also worth noting that you don't need to use every character per encounter, as it seems that those who don't partake in the fight still earn experience, and I loved that.
After my first hour of playing One Piece Odyssey, I can confidently say I'm trying the game out a bit more. Sure, I don't know anything about One Piece and can't say turn-based RPGs are my favourite genre, but I hope that the new mechanics to the turn-based battle system will make it fun enough to bear through the adventure with Luffy and the Straw Hat Crew!