Celebrating 25 years of the anime franchise, Bandai Namco Entertainment gave us a treat in developing one of the best JRPGs we’ve played so far to start 2023 based on popular manga and anime. Coming from someone who just started binge-watching One Piece, Odyssey is quite an enjoyable experience.
Before I get roasted by avid followers of the manga, this One Piece Odyssey review comes from the perspective of both a casual anime watcher and a new fan. I would recommend at least watching a few episodes of the anime, so you’re a bit updated, but if you don’t, that’s okay as well since this review is completely spoiler-free.
As of this writing, I am in the process of binge-watching One Piece and have just finished the Baratie arc. This gave me at least the knowledge of knowing half of Luffy’s crew.
While I still have a long journey ahead of me exploring this rabbit hole, I feel that I have experienced enough to give a fair review for One Piece Odyssey without being overly influenced by my newfound love for its anime.
The Straw Hat pirate crew gets stranded on an island after getting hit by a powerful storm. They soon discover that their powers and memories have been stripped by a mysterious girl. Later on, the crew will revisit each of their memories in Memoria, where the crew needs to retrieve their powers. Here you can experience your own version of events taken from the anime/manga.
Even if you play this game blindly, One Piece Odyssey gives you a couple of interesting cutscenes with engaging narrations to keep you interested. It actually reminded me of ELEX II, where I didn’t need to play the first game to understand the story because of flashback cutscenes.
Whether you’re a new fan of One Piece or you’ve been following the manga and anime since its inception, you will have a great time with One Piece Odyssey.
A piece of advice when you’re about to start your journey: go to your Objectives menu after you clear a chapter because you will see some Grand Logs containing recaps of what really happened in the memory based on the anime/manga.
Overall, this is a self-contained story that expands on the One Piece lore in a meaningful way. The cast of characters is written with a great degree of faithfulness. It’s a fun detour that you can enjoy, even if this is your first time interacting with the franchise.
In the prologue tutorial mission, I was a bit overwhelmed with the characters at first because they were starting at high levels. However, the way each crewmate’s personality was briefly featured was a good introduction to One Piece through their voice dialogues.
During the combat tutorials, I mindlessly picked whatever ability I could from the crewmates during battle. I mostly spammed skills from the characters I’m familiar with, like Luffy, Zoro, Nami, and Usopp.
At first, I got a bit impatient with the prologue part of the game, but then I realized that the length of the prologue was enough to learn the mechanics. There will be occasional tooltips during the story’s progress, but it didn’t stop me from playing longer.
Although, it could’ve been nice if the devs added a photo mode for One Piece Odyssey because the environments were so pleasing to look at. Just look at these breathtaking environment shots, plus the accidental battle screenshots I took.
One Piece Odyssey looks incredible and manages to recreate the aesthetics of the show perfectly. Each character has plenty of detail, with varying attack animations, and the display detail is quite impressive.
Soundtrack & Voice Acting
I’ll be honest, I usually have low expectations when it comes to video game adaptations of anime, but One Piece is an exception. I had a sense of excitement after getting my hands into the open-world exploration that it has to offer as soon as the game opened up a bit.
The main menu soundtrack was so relaxing to listen to. I routinely play it in the background if I want to fall asleep, and that’s a good thing. The back-and-forth dialogues by the anime’s original cast were entertaining to listen to, and I didn’t have that usual urge to skip cutscenes.
Playing One Piece Odyssey for the first few hours felt like watching the anime. The difference is that you are actually participating in the episodes, and it’s up to you to unveil what happens in these chapters.
Combat & Gameplay
I watched Bandai’s presentation of the system mechanics of One Piece Odyssey, and the first thought that came to my mind was, “Wow, this definitely reminds me of the Persona franchise, I am sold!”
The turn-based combat gives us a rock-paper-scissors approach which is already common to JRPGs but with a twist. I liked the option that you can fast-forward some battles as it tends to become repetitive sometimes. This option is more catered to impatient gamers like me.
Basically, the game plays around with these affinities:
There are also weaknesses and resistance mechanics in this game which can also inflict additional damage on your enemies. Pay attention, as some of your crewmates’ skills have Burn, Freeze, and Lightning element effects. In my playthrough, I saw this more often whenever I used either the skills of Nami or Usopp.
While the battle UI is quite similar to Persona games as well, they implemented another twist when it comes to engaging enemies. Once you enter battle, you’ll notice that certain characters and enemies are grouped together. This is why we have the option to choose Formation strategies with every encounter.
During the long hours of your playthrough, you’ll also get to encounter Frayed Memories or Hysterias. These give your crew the opportunity to discover new Bond Arts. These are team-based skills that can translate to better battle strategies and outcomes.
I just wish finding these Bond Arts were a bit faster since this is a pretty long game. I would get the occasional boredom of watching the same skill animations repeatedly.
When it comes to equipment management in this One Piece Odyssey review, I observed that they’ve implemented a PUBG-like inventory system which gives another unique twist to the JRPG genre.
Leveling-up & Progression
One Piece Odyssey makes a great casual introduction to JRPGs since you don’t need to dedicate so much time to grinding higher levels. As I mentioned before, the closest games I can think of when it comes to their similarities in mechanics are Persona and the Final Fantasy series.
Your crew’s skills improve while exploring the open world in search of their power cubes. In the first 4 hours of my playthrough, I observed that it’s pretty quick to level up to 20, but it becomes harder later.
Or maybe I got lucky that I was able to encounter a lot of Dramatic Battles, adding unique mechanics and depth to my battle strategies. Battle objectives vary from clearing enemies in a crewmate’s area to eliminating a specific target in one turn.
This is one of the best twists I’ve experienced in a JRPG so far. When a band of enemies carries over 10,000 EXP points after defeating them, man it feels good because it’s akin to receiving a hefty boss reward.
One Piece Odyssey has a shared EXP mechanic; however, I can’t seem to figure out the EXP distribution. It’s kind of funny how one of my reserve crew members leveled up, even though I didn’t fully utilize them in my battles.
Open World Exploration
I did feel some clunkiness in the controls when exploring the open world of One Piece Odyssey. The animations felt stiff when say, Luffy traverses into different areas of the map or when Zoro attempts to cut a metal box, but that’s just a minor nitpick.
However, it’s a good thing that you can control all the crewmates while exploring the open world. There are some environmental situations wherein you’re required to use a certain crewmate.
For example, you may want to use Luffy and his rubber arms to reach higher places. Use Chopper to explore small spaces and utilize Usopp’s slingshot to reach hidden loot.
Nami can look for hidden Berries (the currency in the One Piece universe), and Zoro can break objects and obstacles. Let Sanji search for hidden ingredients to cook potent food later. This provides boosts for the whole pirate crew to help you last longer in fights.
Expect probably over 30 hours of gameplay if you’re a completionist when it comes to this JRPG. You won’t run out of side quests and bounty hunts to do.
Speaking of bounty hunts, there were cases where I didn’t really feel the EXP reward for beating certain targets. I know that pirates aren’t really entitled to receive bounty rewards because the entire crew is wanted by the Marines, but I do find the Berries reward not worth the time.
For example, there’s a target worth 3 million Berries, and what do I get after hunting down the bounty? 30,000 (or even less). This is a bit disappointing and discouraged me from pursuing these bounties.
You will also encounter campsites during your journey. These give your entire crew HP recovery, 30% EXP gain as well as a higher chance to perform critical hits for ten battles after feasting. Later on, you’ll unlock some of your crewmates’ workstations like Usopp’s Workshop, Sanji’s Kitchen, and Robin’s Mystery Craft.
Usopp’s Workshop gives you options to craft Trick Balls that can give away debuffs to your opponents. These can decrease attack or defense for a certain number of turns.
Sanji’s Kitchen lets you cook food that gives away party buffs. Personally, I don’t use much of the enhanced food that Sanji provides except for chapter bosses. This is because I have a certain strategy for abusing Chopper’s healing skills with my party members. Additionally, I usually enjoy the challenge of not using items as much as possible in most turn-based RPGs.
On the other hand, Robin’s Mystery Craft lets you merge accessories you find on your journey. This will unlock at the latter part of the game when you’ve cleared a certain chapter in One Piece Odyssey.
Of course, I did my best to make this review as spoiler-free as possible, so you won’t see what Robin’s Mystery Craft looks like in your camp.
After watching some of the past One Piece games that were released, particularly the Pirate Warriors franchise, I felt that I didn’t get spoiled with Odyssey, and it gave me the liberty to experience the story in a way that doesn’t let me heavily critique the differences with the anime and manga.
Hats off to Bandai Namco for pulling through with another great video game title. As I said at the beginning of this review, I had extremely low expectations for any anime-based games because it wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I’m giving One Piece the exception.
One Piece Odyssey will make you curious about how the narrative plays out for the Straw Hat Pirates compared to the anime, and perhaps that’s a good thing from the perspective of new and old fans alike. You might even be encouraged to watch (or rewatch) the anime after playing for a couple of hours.
This review is based on the PC version of One Piece Odyssey. The key was provided by Bandai Namco.