We are not at the first test of an adaptation of the famous future king of the pirates in the world of video games. A true behemoth of the manga universe, One Piece is a work with immense potential, possessing a legion of loyal and tireless fans, eager for new stories and new adventures.
After adaptations not often successful in fighting games and then in Action-RPG, the license is back today stronger than ever to deliver a new copy which this time seems most promising.
Diving into the heart of the work
One Piece Odyssey is a completely new adventure, while allowing us to subtly relive the strong and key moments of the manga. We have the right to a real tribute to the franchise, even a love letter, which manages not to fall into the trap of a simple adaptation on another medium. Here we feel the explicit intention of the developers and the author to offer us an original adventure in order to relive events that take place in a different way compared to the canonical story. Throughout the game, multiple references come to delight long-time fans. We can review and share a bit of adventure with several key characters from the manga and the game does not fail to strike a chord on many occasions.
One Piece Odyssey is a classic JRPG which is a complete contrast to its predecessor One Piece World Seeker. We benefit here from an experience that mixes the exploration of relatively large environments and more restricted areas. The battles take place on a turn-by-turn basis, where Luffy and his companions (“Mugiwara no Ichimi” in the original version, the Straw Hat crew, a reference to the cap so characteristic of the captain) actively participate in the clashes.
Vis-à-vis the story, we have the impression of living a new arc of the manga while having the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the old ones.
Without too much context, like the course of the manga, the Mugiwaras, through their exploration of the new world, end up falling on a mysterious island surrounded by a strange storm. Their ship, the Thousand Sunny, is then caught by the winds and comes to break on the coasts of the island. The crew then finds themselves trapped in this place and meets two key characters, Adio and Lim. During their first exchanges, as usual for the crew, our two locals take a dim view of the arrival of pirates on their island. It is then via a mysterious power that Lim withdraws the strengths and abilities of our dear crew. But as always, thanks to their legendary charisma and empathy, the Mugiwaras befriend Lim and Adio and find a way to bring together their experiences and skills throughout the adventure. We won’t go any further in terms of the plot for obvious spoiler reasons.
An adventure that falls into the trap
Despite this laudatory introduction, the story of One Piece Odyssey falls into the usual JRPG trappings.
The game suffers from largely avoidable but genre-specific lengths. The “forced” opportunities in the back and forth plot are not lacking and this is also found in most of the secondary missions. The irony is that at times, it blocks any freedom of exploration, resulting in passing some frustrations. All levels are composed in the same way, a convoluted city stuffed with small corridors and then vast explorable areas. Each location is full of secrets and backdoors to retrieve crafting items from the ground or from chests. These vast worlds are rich and the environments clearly make you travel, but it’s more the composition of the level design that leaves something to be desired. Many areas are just a succession of corridors with several secondary branches that end in a dead end. To put it simply, there is only one path that the scenario will have us take three or four times and we will have to add the double with the secondary quests… The other bifurcations are used for the different types of secondary quests or to find hidden chests.
Unfortunately the interest of these round trips is not very captivating, most often they are necessary to meet an NPC and exchange a few lines of dialogue with him to unlock a passage in order to continue progress. The same goes for side quests which most often end in optional boss encounters.
Nothing surprising for a JRPG you will tell me, but you are at least warned.
Regarding the additional activities, there are the classic side quests that are obtained from NPCs as well as bounty hunter missions. There are also other types of story quests that help strengthen the bond between multiple crew members and unlock combo special attacks.
The turn-based tradition
In turn, the combat model follows the tradition of games of the genre, with a traditional team system, but bringing its share of subtleties. We note that the menus have the merit of being clear and well organized allowing an immediate handling. We have basic attacks without prerequisites, special moves that use the PT gauge (Technique Points) and finally joint “furies” between several crew members that require charge points, recovered after each attack made . We also have the classic special items, which are divided into two categories, those that are used on our team, in most cases food cooked by Sanji with various effects and those that can be thrown at enemies, the balls produced by Usopp.
Everything is linked together brilliantly and it is a real pleasure to find our Mugiwaras in action and to see in action the incredible attacks of each of the members. The combat phases also take on an aspect very close to the epic clashes of the manga. This is the distribution of crew members and enemies on the battlefield. It’s unmistakably reminiscent of real anime battles where the crew is regularly separated. This aspect brings a touch of strategy according to the weak points of our adversaries.
We must choose four members who will take part in the fights and each one has its own type of attack, for example power for Luffy, Sanji and Chopper, technique for Zoro and speed for Usopp and Nami. Of course, each enemy is sensitive to a specific type of attack. It is then up to us to compose our team, even if it means modifying it on the fly in the middle of the action, depending on the type of affinity of the opponents. This tactical aspect in chifoumi mode is reinforced by the random arrangement of the crew on the battlefield and then allows different combinations to attack from a distance or join an isolated member to come to his aid.
Similarly, different secondary objectives can intervene during the fights. For example, you have to beat such an opponent in a set number of turns or inflict the deathblow with a particular crew member. This makes encounters more dynamic and provides bonus experience if completed correctly.
The rise in power
Mentioned just above, the different elements that we collect during the adventure allow us to design different objects and tools.
With Sanji we can cook dishes that allow us to heal ourselves and have some handy buffs. With Usopp, we create special ammo to use in fights, like fireballs and poison balls. With Robin we can improve the accessories that we find or buy from merchants. These are the only pieces of equipment available in the game.
Accessories provide health, attack, dodge or defense bonuses. We can equip several depending on the place they occupy. The management of this facet of the gameplay evolves during the game but to give an example we start with a limited space comprising ten boxes, of course expandable under certain conditions. Each piece of equipment has a specific shape, a bit like a Tetris piece. It is up to us to fill the boxes in an optimized way with the different accessories that we have in our possession. This is where Robin comes in, who has the ability to merge them with a random chance to increase starting bonuses.
In addition to craftsmanship, each chapter, for a total of eight, gradually allows us to regain, depending on the scenario, our strengths and the powers we have lost. This progression system brings a nice increase in power of the crew and this is transcribed concretely during the various fights. We then unlock new, ever more impressive attacks, but unfortunately, we are dealing with more and more bags of life points.
Likewise, vis-à-vis the fights, the anime has accustomed us to spectacular confrontations, the fact of offering a turn-based game system literally breaks the impressive side that the franchise can have. Because yes, chaining the same attacks repeatedly on a big opponent is nothing very spectacular. Moreover, after each major boss fight, a cutscene takes precedence as soon as the opponent’s life bar reaches zero, in order to offer a heroic conclusion worthy of the series.
Before closing our test, it is important to mention the aesthetic aspect of One Piece Odyssey and the sensations that result from it.
Overall, the environment textures, particle generation, and day/night cycles work well. On the other hand, the movements are at first a little confusing, Luffy is not very agile and the collision system is not the most pleasant, but the whole universe remains coherent and is completely faithful to the franchise.
The modeling of the characters as for it, seemed to us at first a little strange, it is moreover rather uneven. Overall the chara-design is faithful, but even if the modeling gives a slightly strange 3D doll effect, we get used to it very quickly. Regarding the entertainment, nothing to complain about on this side. The dialogues are just as well worked, we find the guidelines of the manga with the good tone and the different touches of humor scattered here and there.
Regarding the soundtrack, the dubbing is perfect with the Japanese voices, the musical part remains a little below what the anime can offer us, but it knows how to manifest itself correctly in the highlights.
Loading times are rare and do not even last two seconds on Xbox Series X.
Tested on Xbox Series X