I’m a longtime fan of monster hunting/boss hunting games like the Monster Hunter series, God Eater Burst, Soul Sacrifice and even the not so great but still fun Lord of Arcana.
Ragnarok Odyssey Ace, an expanded version of the original Ragnarok Odyssey, is a game that really seems to try to fit in with the “cool kids” of the genre, but just seems to fall short, even with all of its new content alongside a 100 floor, randomized dungeon.
Upon starting up the game, players are treated to a pretty badass opening cut scene-epic music, giant monsters, and heroes using end game equipment to fight them- and it really got me pumped. I really am such a sucker for these kinds of games. I love the idea of dumping hours and hours of time into slowly building a character from nothing but a crappy sword and shorts paired with a tee shirt into a digital badass capable of doing anything except impress my girlfriend.
However, after getting through the character creator, which was the standard fare for a game of this type, there is one thing I learned about this game almost immediately- there is just so. much. talking. I understand that learning how to play and bringing new players up to speed is one thing, but the opening of the game has so much text that I actually thought for a bit that I was never going to get to play.
I thought that I would be trapped forever in some sort of tutorial limbo, where every NPC in the game just wants to keep telling me all of their problems, but never allows me to go a fix them by smacking some monsters around with my crappy sword.
This issue is constant throughout the entirety of the game, where whenever you need to talk to someone they normally go into a massive dialogue and I found myself just pressing the x button to skip through.
Thankfully I pushed forward, because Ragnarok Odyssey Ace actually isn’t so bad, but is not without flaws that bring the overall gameplay experience down, along with a few strange design choices that don’t really make much sense.
Just by standing in the starting area, you can easily see that Ragnarok is a very pretty game. Lush environments coupled with a wide color palate bring out detail in a great way, and the game is simply beautiful when played on the five inch OLED Vita (the platform I reviewed on) screen. Areas of the map load in very quickly, and some portions of levels are quite large, filled with enemies and other decorations or breakable items like barrels or crates.
An interesting design choice to point out in terms of exploration is the way the game seems to blend loot-fest games like Diablo, while trying to stay true to the genres roots. It works very well, at first. Then I began to realize a few things that made me become very bored, especially the combat.
As you progress through the game, you gain the ability to change your characters class. This allows you to use other weapons and equip different skills, as well as wear different themed outfits to further customize your look.
Combining cards with your outfit can further buff your character up to really help you in the field, but once you’re there, you quickly realize that the battle system is literally mashing one button until everything dies.
The controls, which have four alternate styles, show that you have one button on the Vita, (the triangle button for me) for normal attacks and another button, (the circle button for me) for heavy/special/launch attacks.
I hardly ever used the circle button. I still haven’t found a situation where I needed to use heavy attacks or even launches in order to defeat an opponent in any way short of making it a bit flashier.
I did have higher hopes for the mage class though, which uses melee and magic attacks in order to handle swarms of enemies at once. However, I ended up being disappointed, as the only way to use magic is to hit the triangle button for normal attacks multiple times and then hitting the circle button to combo into a magic attack.
While this might sound fun, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to this system, and my character didn’t use magic attacks consistently. This was very frustrating especially when I was surrounded by enemies while I tried to clear the field more quickly, only to use a single target magic attack instead of an area one.
The game also has abilities called Ace Skills, along with a super mode that boosts all of your stats and makes you attack faster, but even with those additions to combat, I still only ever found myself hitting one button to clear any enemy in my way.
The camera can also be an annoyance, as it is simply too close to the player for comfort, and I found myself wishing that a zoom function would somehow manifest itself into my game so that I could see the environment a little easier.
This can also be irritating when fighting the games massive bosses, which can easily take up the vitas screen, obscuring the player’s vision.
While I at first thought it was pretty cool to fight such a massive enemy, I quickly grew tired with continuously fighting with the lock on control – (which is any direction on the D Pad for me), as well as the camera, and just ended up resorting to my strategy of hitting the triangle button until the bosses die.
Aside from these issues though, the in game HUD actually surprised me. It seems a bit cluttered at first, but I soon realized how easy it was to get information and use items via the touchscreen.
Ragnarok Odyssey Ace is all about customization. With unlockable cards, weapons, hairstyles, voices, background music tracks, and both free and paid DLC, there’s plenty to buy and work towards as you continue to advance, especially if you play with friends.
With up to four player cooperative play either online or off, and with the ability to have AI controlled party members if you aren’t near a Wi-Fi connection, you’ll almost never encounter a quest you can’t beat with the right combination of other characters.
All in all, Ragnarok Odyssey Ace is a decent game, never failing to entertain for short bursts of play. While the combat system leaves something to be desired, the lush environments, and high level of customization drive the value of the game back up.
Ragnarok Odyssey ACE was reviewed using a code provided by XSEED Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s reviews/ethics policy here.