When people hear the word ‘Ragnarok’ there are a couple of things that may come to their mind. For one, there’s the Norse mythology origin of the word which pertains to the “end of the age of gods” where the gods of Asgard waged one final battle with the Frost Giants. The culmination of the battle marked the end of the old world and the beginning of the new world, the current one.
Now, if you happen to be a gamer, you may have come across that information from an online multiplayer game from (correct me if I am wrong about this) Korea. I don’t know if the game is still live, if its servers aren’t dead yet but I did play that online game a looooong time ago. It is also from that game whence this amazingly, incredibly, awesome game was based from.
Ragnarok Odyssey which was localized and brought over to the western shore by the epic people from XSeed is a PlayStation Vita game and one of the highly anticipated games (which had been pushed back a couple of times in the past, prior to its release and caused a community to groan and shout angrily at the heavens). It’s a hack-and-slash, gravity-defying, giant-slaying game that puts you in the shoes of an up-and-coming mercenary joining a guild in-charged of protecting Fort Farthest and spearheading the investigation on the new-found Sunderlands.
Premise of the game aside, if you’re going to grab this game because of the nostalgia you felt for playing the online game, then, let me tell you this: this game is nothing like the online game (which, I really believe is a good thing).
You start off with the ability to, like every game of the genre, customize your characters from 18 faces, 19 hairstyles, 16 voices, and choose which class you want to use (Swordsman, Assassin, Cleric, Mage, Hunter, Hammersmith). You don’t have to worry about wanting to play all the different classes, though. Upon reaching a particular point in the game, you will be able to change your class to any of those aforementioned classes. So, there’s really no pressure in choosing which class to take.
After that, you will be given a series of missions (ala-Monster Hunter) which you will need to accept via the Kafra (Quest Counter) and accomplish before moving on to the next, and the next, until you finish the chapter (there are 9 in total). It might sound pretty straightforward but there’s a lot more to this game than merely beating one mission after another.
For one, there is no leveling system–which can be a pro or a con. The only “leveling up” your character gets is from completing chapters which will increase your HP, AP, Attack, and Defense parameters. If that is the case, you may be wondering how you can power-up your characters.
Well, the answer to that lies in the cards. No, not tarot cards. The in-game cards dropped by monsters which helps increase (and, at times, decrease) parameters, add special and unique abilities, immunities, and such-and-such. Card drops, as far as I can tell, are randomly dropped (except for the boss cards, which, can only be obtained (I think) from the Extra Quests available) so it’s going to require a lot of farming if you intend to “collect them all” (if you’re a trophy hunter, that’s something you would want to do as there is a trophy for obtaining all the cards).
Apart from cards, heavy farming can also net you weapons and materials used to refine (upgrade weapons) and expand (upgrade costumes/armors) which can help you in the long run. Of course, repeatedly going after the quests will also help with your in-game bank account and would let you buy the items, cards, equipment, BGMs, hats, costumes, and even give your avatar a make-over, all of which (upon a certain point) will give you a trophy.
Because of the card customization and the lack of a leveling system, this game depends heavily on a player’s skill to complete. While some quests are as easy as pie, there are quests that are as hard as hell (*cough*Chapter 9*cough*).
As this game is a hack-and-slash kind of game, your skill to execute combos and use the DS mode will prove necessary in beating the toughest of missions and the biggest and baddest of mobs and bosses. And, let me tell you, the bosses in this game are no joke. They’re not puny either. They’re massive, gargantuan, and would allow more than just hacking and slashing to beat.
Ragnarok Odyssey also provides a decent (albeit, at times, frustrating) online gameplay. You can play with friends via ad-hoc or use a WiFi connection to play with other RO gamers. In my experience, connecting via WiFi can be a pain as you may (at times, maybe even frequently) get application error, be kicked out of rooms, or fail to join a room entirely. If there’s one thing I want developers to fix, it’s this connection problems that a lot of us (who are playing and have played the game) experience.
Control-wise, the game is pretty straightforward. You won’t get confused with the controls or even worry about using the touchscreen as the only time you will be using it would be to make use of potions (which you can also do by pressing SELECT then the appropriate button for the appropriate potion) or to communicate with fellow players in lobbies and in quests, and maximize and minimize the map. There is, however, an option you can tick to also use the touchscreen capability of the Vita to control the camera (which, by default can be controlled by the left and right buttons as well as the right stick).
The game’s graphics and music are superb. The graphics is a bit different from the traditional RO game, but it is just as lively and vibrant as its predecessor and is a whole lot better than early-released Vita games. The music makes you feel nostalgic about the old MMORPG. You can also customize which song plays on the fort and on the mission/quest you are tackling.
You can also exchange cards and weapons via the Near app. Be warned, however, that you can only accept up to 5 gifts at a time. Once those 5 slots are taken, you will have to relinquish an item or card if you want to accept more.
So, apart from the annoying “application error” that always pops up and the 8 out of 10 times failure to join a room, what else do I not like about this game? Well, there are only two I can think of at the top of my head. One, the stupid timer. I hate having to play through a level with a timer ticking down. Why? Well, (and this is the second thing I don’t like about this game) it’s because we can’t explore the world at all. We have to rush through missions. Now, if they took out the timer and then add a sand-box like world (ala-Skyrim) then, this would be a pretty awesome game (not that it already is, but still…one cannot help but think of the possibilities!).
Having said that, I’d give this game a 8.5 out of 10, cutting a point from not being able to explore the world of Rune Midgard and half-a-point for the incredibly annoying error we sometimes get while going online. Still, I would repeat what I had stated earlier, that this game is one of the best Vita games to ever grace the North American and English-speaking market.