Game Review: ONE PIECE ODYSSEY (PlayStation 5)


The world of ONE PIECE continues to expand into new and uncharted waters as the latest game, ONE PIECE ODYSSEY, is an RPG; but what can one expect from this role-playing-adventure on the PlayStation 5? Let’s take a look and find out!

one-piece-odyessy-logo Title: ONE PIECE ODYSSEY
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer: ILCA
Platform: PlayStation 5
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Audio: Japanese
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1
Online Players: N/A
Install: YES (30GB)

Our View:

Developed by ILCA, a Japanese game developer known for working on titles such as NieR: Automata and CODE VEIN, and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment in collaboration with TOEI Animation comes ONE PIECE ODYSSEY, the newest video game entry set within the ever-expanding world of Eiichiro Oda’s long-running manga series.

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While the ONE PIECE manga series has been in publication since 1997, with the anime adaptation running from 1999, newcomers, or even returning fans, to the franchise need not worry about the overall story or the history of the characters to enjoy this game, as the story within ONE PIECE ODYSSEY is relatively self-contained with short bursts of information drops when a bit of context is required. Of course those who are familiar with the characters, and some elements of ONE PIECE, will benefit from this RPG experience, but newcomers will still enjoy what the game has to offer.

As a brief recap the story of ONE PIECE follows the adventure of Monkey D Luffy, otherwise known as Luffy, who dreams of becoming the king of pirates and finding Gol D Rodgers treasure, the ONE PIECE. During his quest to become the king of pirates he befriends various people through different adventures across the world, such as Zoro, Nami, Usopp, Sanji, Chopper, Nico Robin, Franky and Brook, and forms the straw hat crew pirates with each having their own dreams to fulfill. It’s a wonderful story filled with adventure, emotion and plenty of action.

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The story within ONE PIECE ODYSSEY meanwhile takes place on the island of Waford, a mysterious island that the straw hat crew find themselves stranded on after a bizarre storm, with the aim of re-covering scattered memory fragments, which are represented as cubes, in order to restore their lost abilities.  Now this isn’t some cliché amnesia storyline, far from it, as the memories of those adventures remain. Instead the cubes that hold these abilities have merely been sealed away and scattered across the island as a result of an encounter with the island inhabitants.

Of course there is more to the story than just exploring the island of Waford for green cubes, as certain memory fragments contain memories that need to be experienced again in the world of memory for those abilities to return. As a result of this, events from past ONE PIECE storylines, such as Alabasta, Water Seven, Marineford and Dressrosa are presented to us, but to make things interesting they are done slightly differently to how they were originally presented in the manga. It’s explained that we can sometimes remember events differently to how it happened, which is true, but I think this is also a rather clever tactic of allowing ONE PIECE fans to experience familiar stories in a different format and one that is better presented in video game form.

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Regardless; how these larger memory fragments are presented works exceptionally well in ONE PIECE ODYSSEY, as it allows for entire locations to be recreated for players to explore as well as introduce sub-stories, challenges and other activities without feeling like too much of a distraction from the source material. For instance you can explore the towns within Alabasta to your heart’s content, engage in some pirate bounty hunting or help the locals with their requests. There is plenty to do alongside the main objective and one important activity is exploring Bond Memoria within each world of memory fragment. These areas will only allow select members of the straw hat crew inside, but if completed it will award players with bonuses such as new bond abilities with the relevant crew members.

As you can probably tell the main emphasis of the story within ONE PIECE ODYSSEY is to restore lost abilities through memory fragments that have been scattered across the land, with the islanders Lim and Adio acting as your support throughout your journey. Naturally as the adventure progresses you’ll restore those lost abilities, experience moments from the ONE PIECE story in a new way and discover more about the mysterious island of Waford and those that inhabit it.

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Of course this story wouldn’t progress without any actual gameplay and there is plenty of that to explore. For starters ONE PIECE ODYSSEY is an RPG that mixes exploration with turn based combat, while story progression is presented as cut-scenes and on-screen dialogue while navigating each area. From a story progression perspective the cut-scenes are presented articulately and draw inspiration from the anime, with characters interactions, expressions and reactions being like those in the long-running show. The same can also be said for the abilities acquired as your progress through the game, as they look and feel authentic to the anime.

Story progression is also managed by different chapters, with each chapter (realistically) focusing on a different memory or event within the overall story. For instance the first chapter and prologue take place on Waford while the second and third chapters take place in Alabasta. Regardless of the chapter, or location, you’ll be able to explore different environments with a relatively decent sized area to search. These areas are still limited in nature, especially in towns, as you’ll always follow a linear path with markers telling you where to go, but at the same time they do offer some form of exploration if you decide go off the main route to search for treasure or side quests. It’s a great compromise that allows some exploration for veterans of the genre while aiding players that are relatively new to it.

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While exploring these different environments players will have full control of their character, and characters can be switched easily at any moment by pressing on the D-Pad. Additionally each character has a unique skill that can be used while navigating around that area. Luffy for instance can use his Gum Gum Rocket ability to collect items out of reach or easily climb to new places. Other characters abilities include Nami and her sixth sense for finding berry (money), Usopp for his sniper shooting skills and Sanji for his ingredient detection skill. These skills may seem small and potentially pointless to some, but it gives you a reason to change your character often – something which other RPGs don’t tend to do other than for a change of visuals.

Naturally while navigating around you’ll notice various objects, people and monsters you can interact with, each with differing results. Interacting with objects (highlighted by a magnifying glass) or people (highlighted by three white icons) will trigger a conversation about them, thus adding a bit of lore to the world, while walking into monsters will trigger the turned based combat. Side Quest missions will be highlighted with Blue icons while important story progressing markers will be highlighted in red, with an exclamation mark dictating the next objective point and three red markers above a character highlighting a clue on where you need to go next. It’s all pretty simple and, for an RPG, is rather relaxing as you won’t have to worry too much on what to do next.

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There have been many ONE PIECE games in the past, with most focusing on the fighting genre, so it is nice to have something different in this latest game by offering a mixture of exploration and turn based combat. It reminds me of ONE PIECE Unlimited World Red, except it is more polished and better to play. More importantly the turn based combat is some of the most intuitive that I have seen in quite some time.  Most turn based RPGs are simple Attack, Wait, and Repeat methods with the odd unique skill or combo element thrown in, but not here, instead it is quite different.

For starters in ONE PIECE ODYSSEY you can have four characters in your battle party and each will take turns battling the opponent with Attack, Skill Attack, Item and Bond Attacks being options to choose from. Additionally you have a tactics option where you can change battle party members with those in reserve or flee from battle. So far everything is as you’d expect, but the difference here is that battle party members and enemies can appear in four different areas of the battlefield, with some enemies ganging up on a single character.

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That’s not all as some Skill Attacks, which are the abilities you reclaim by collecting and experiencing the memory fragments, can attack at distance while others can only attack at close range. Bond Attacks, which become accessible once you have completed the relevant Memoria fragment, allow multiple characters to do a combo attack in a single turn – but does require the bond gauge to be filled before use.  This means that a bit of strategy is involved in picking who to attack, when and how.

Obviously strategy RPGs have a similar mechanic, where enemies are placed at different points of the map and you move your character near them, but here it is a little bit different and not as stressful. No matter how far away the enemy is from you the range attack will still hit, and if you do not have a ranged attack then your character will instantly move to that location and attack. Some of these skills will also hit multiple targets at once – which are very helpful in clearing multiple enemies at once. It is such an accessible combat system that it makes playing this RPG fun to play no-matter how many enemies you face, but wait there is more.

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To make things a little challenging during combat random challenges will be issued for bonus experience, such as defeating an enemy within so many turns or aiding an ally before being knocked out. There is also a Rock, Paper, Scissors mechanic, in the form of Strength, Speed, and Technique, that will dictate whether a characters attack will deal more or less damage to the opponent. It’s these little additions that make the turn based combat in ONE PIECE ODYSSEY differ from other experiences and as it is so accessible to play it doesn’t feel like too much of a challenge for newcomers to get to grips with.

Naturally defeating enemies in these turn-based-combat scenarios will give your characters experience points, and happily all characters in your party will receive them. Sadly leveling up is painfully slow, as most battles will only grant a handful of experience, but by completing battle challenges you will receive a huge increase in experience. It’s a rather strange way of issuing experience points, but somehow it works quite well (even if it can be annoying at times).

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Of course leveling up your character will increase the base stats for that character, which is crucial to surviving boss battles, but your stats can be improved by using accessories and collecting green memory fragments for each character. Green memory fragments enhance the abilities (Skill) that are unlocked through story progression and will be hidden away throughout the game, so it is worth exploring high and low at all times.

Accessories on the other hand can be found scattered around or purchased from vendors, with basic accessories increasing your Attack, Defence, Intelligence and Guts stats while more elaborate accessories can grant resistance to elements or negate status effects. Only a handful of accessories can be equipped at a time and these are presented as a square with each accessory having a different shape and size. The more impressive accessories will instantly fill the square, while basic accessories will generally take up a single line within the square. This is yet another difference to traditional RPGs which give you three or four slots to equip items with, as here you need to manage them more effectively to ensure no space is wasted while having the most amount of accessories equipped.

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Amusingly ONE PIECE ODYSSEY offers a lot more than just exploration and combat as items collected throughout your journey can be used by Sanji and Usopp to create food dishes and trick balls that can be used in combat. Sanji for instance can create food that supports the player with healing and enhancements while Usopp can create trick balls that will reduce the enemies’ stats.

Both of these options can be made while in camp during your travels, an area which allows the player to interact slightly with all available characters as well as see them party the night away at the end of a hard day of travelling. It’s all fun and games for the straw hat crew during these parties; speaking of which Nico Robin also has a crafting option that allows accessories to be enhanced by fusing them together.

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Despite all of the praise ONE PIECE ODYSSEY is not without a few minor complaints, but these may be more of a personal grievance then any underlining issues with the game. ONE PIECE ODYSSEY is a long game, and rightfully so, but there are certain forced storyline elements that felt unnecessary and made that part of the game a bit of a slog to play and longer than needed. As an example during the Alabasta Arc, where you travel from Nanohana to Rainbase, you’ll be forced to collect ingredients, locate items, and find bandits in order to progress through the main story.

This happens quite often throughout and there is even a decent amount of back-and-forth navigating between areas due to the games linear path of exploration. Naturally these all help to expand the world within, and make it feel like you are experiencing their journey, but to me they felt like side-quests forced into the main story in order to increase game length.

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There are some other random abnormalities as well where if you speed-up combat the voice-over for characters battle cries will cut-off mid-sentence due to the shorter on-screen time. Additionally if you opt to switch characters when suggested by the game it will take longer to load them in than it would be to manually switch characters, which I thought was rather odd. Speaking of odd, while you can jump you can’t jump over objects or drop down from higher places unless it is a designated point to drop down from; which means you are basically forced to follow the path. Of course these are all minor complaints from me, but I felt that they disrupted the immersion the game was trying to offer.

That aside, When you bring all this together ONE PIECE ODYSSEY delivers a unique RPG experience that acts as both an independent story of restoring what was once lost and a celebration of its 25th anniversary by reminiscing popular story arcs. It is a culmination of the best ONE PIECE has to offer, but presented differently to keep things fresh and entertaining for returning fans of the franchise. The same can be said for the RPG mechanics, generally everything seen here is available in other RPGs but it is the minor tweaks to gameplay, and personalities of the characters, that helps bring out the best that this game has to offer.

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ONE PIECE ODYSSEY is undoubtedly a great ONE PIECE experience and an even better RPG, as not only does the game bring out the personality of the straw hat crew in video game form, but it does so with visual flair and is presented in a story that is both familiar and new that everyone can enjoy. ONE PIECE ODYSSEY is an adventure worth sailing for, and it’s here now.

Score: review-stars-4

ONE PIECE ODYSSEY is out now for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and Windows PC.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has produced content for ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

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