Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece is one of the longest running action anime and manga franchises out there today, and as a result there have been plenty of video games that have taken their shot at capturing the manga fans feel from these original releases. It’s been an admittedly tough road in this regard for fans of the series as there have been a lot of games that have come close, but nothing has quite managed to stick the landing. It’s always felt like “one piece” of the experience has been missing from each attempt, but that’s all changed with One Piece Odyssey.
One Piece Odyssey goes for a completely different kind of experience than any of the other One Piece games have done in the past. Covering a bit of older ground, offering some new experiences that help to further flesh out the franchise’s story as a whole, and all the while presenting it with the highest quality presentation that we have ever gotten. There are some issues that role-playing game veterans might have some quarrel with, but it’s an experience One Piece fans should check out.
One Piece Odyssey explores a new story set some time after the events of the Dressrosa arc as Luffy and the Straw Hats end up crash landing on the mysterious island of Waford. Upon meeting a young girl name Lim, it’s revealed that her special ability can remove the memories of others and store them within cubes. It’s here where the game’s story ties into the actual gameplay itself as it’s how Luffy and the others have to essentially work their way back up and regain all of the powers that they had developed before coming to the island.
The experience is then broken up into Luffy and the Straw Hats needing to dive into the world of Memoria to explore various set pieces from their memories (such as the Alabasta, Water Seven, Marineford arcs and more) in order to get strong enough to take on elemental guardians across the island. It’s a pretty neat way to not only make sure to cover famous moments from the series like One Piece games in the past, but there’s a fun twist to each of them.
Each of these arcs don’t play out in the exact same way, and while (as a fan) I could have hoped for more mix ups such as Franky or Brook getting to fight Crocodile in Alabasta, there’s a care in writing how each of the Straw Hats react to revisiting these intense moments from their past. That’s also the biggest highlight for One Piece Odyssey overall. There’s a lot of back and forth between the crew following battles and while walking around the particular maps, and it leads to some pretty funny moments that are quite faithful to how they act in the original series.
The new additions to the lore also feel like they slot right into the main manga series, and even could tease some bigger things to come if these ties ever get explored outside of One Piece Odyssey. When it comes to playing through the game itself, it’s also a very much different experience than fans who have tried out previous games might expect. Battles are turn based, and work on a rock-paper-scissors type of balance. Characters are organized as either Power (like Luffy or Sanji), Technique (like Zoro or Robin), or Speed (like Nami or Usopp) based with Power dealing more damage to Speed, Technique being strong against Power, and Speed being stronger than Technique.
It’s built with ease of play in mind for One Piece fans jumping into role-playing games for the first time here. The entire crew joins each battle, and you’re allowed to freely switch out a character with someone else in your crew as long as they haven’t attacked. It’s complicated a bit as each of the crew members if separated into different areas filled with their own enemies, but like the show, you can freely choose which characters to attack with first to try and help your crew mates. For example Usopp can long range shoot at a Technique type enemy in front of Luffy, and Luffy then is freed up to attack a different area.
You can also get a ton of experience from beating random enemies out in the field, and that’s especially true when clearing certain challenges during battles that grant even more experience points. Clearing out an area of enemies before a crew mate is knocked out, for example, will then many times leading to a quick leveling up (which all characters do at pretty much the same rate). The only issue here is that because things are made to be easy to jump into, battles themselves are relatively easy as a result.
While the difficulty curve is adjusted many, many hours into One Piece Odyssey‘s run time, it’s still never quite going to be the challenge that dedicated role-playing game fans might want. You can adjust the accessories each of your crew takes into battle and steadily buff up certain skills by finding pieces of memory fragments scattered throughout the game’s maps, but the battles themselves are never really going to challenge even when taking on bosses. There’s also a funny kind of issue where a random monster battle can end up giving you something like 10,000 plus experience points, but beating Lucci only gets you 6,000.
That’s kind of the umbrella issue around One Piece Odyssey. While it’s a grand feeling experience with cool-looking attack animations and fun character moments, it’s the finer details that stick out as sore points the more you play. Many of the missions, both story and side quests, involve retreading ground quite a bit. You’ll be tasked with heading to a certain point in the map to “get information” only to need to head back to where you were, and then go back again, to really move on to the next step of the mission.
There are also many occasions where you will need to explore earlier areas in order to move on to the next phase of the story, and it begins to get more bothersome as the hours roll on. It’s a pattern that sticks out more it repeats, and it repeats quite often. It’s certainly a notable sticking point because everything else around these missions feels like it’s been made to be as fun and approachable to One Piece fans as possible.
One Piece Odyssey does have its flaws in how its role-playing experience eventually works out over the course of its many hours, but when stacked against everything that’s come before, it really is the best One Piece game yet. It’s got a lot of fun things for fans of the series to dig into, and there is a lot of care and attention to detail paid in bringing the Straw Hat crew’s various personalities and attacks to life. It might not be the best experience for the more dedicated, but it’s definitely a perfect fit for current fans.
Rating: 4 out of 5
One Piece Odyssey is now available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Windows and Xbox Series X/S. A review copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, and was reviewed on PlayStation 5.