One Piece Odyssey review: "The greatest One Piece game ever made"

One Piece Odyssey review: "The greatest One Piece game ever made"
Images via Bandai Namco

Written by 

Daniel Hollis


11th Jan 2023 15:00

It's crazy to think that One Piece has reached its 25th anniversary with a gargantuan amount of manga and anime for fans to indulge in.

The series is beloved around the world, and to mark this momentous occasion, Bandai Namco has decided to go all out with One Piece Odyssey - a JRPG which marks a huge departure for fans of the game adaptations. 

With such a massive change to the traditional gameplay formula past One Piece games have embraced, it's expected that fans will be wary of this change in style. For a franchise known for delivering fast-paced action set-pieces with flashy visuals, can that really translate to a JRPG formula? 

Despite a lot of nail-biting from players awaiting One Piece Odyssey, any concerns or fears that have been drawn can be crushed.

Taking inspiration from classic JRPGs such as Dragon Quest and the Tales Of series, One Piece Odyssey not only manages to be the greatest One Piece game ever made, but also one of the best JRPGs in recent memory.

We're going on an adventure

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With a long history of games that span back to the original Game Boy Color, One Piece is no stranger to dipping its toe in various genres. But making the jump to full-on JRPG and removing the combat systems that fans had grown to love was always going to be a risky move.

2019's launch of One Piece: World Seeker - which attempted to put the iconic Straw Hat crew in an open-world setting - failed to make a lasting impression. While it was fun in small bursts to punch through foes as Luffy and explore an open-ended environment, it never truly captured the magic of the franchise.

Instead, it felt very stilted in its execution. Where the game adaptations have really thrived is through the Pirate Warriors series, allowing players to take on waves and waves of enemies in true Musou fashion.

Things in One Piece Odyssey kick off when Luffy and the crew crash on a mysterious island. Following a few story beats, the crew suddenly lose the powers bestowed upon them over the years and set out on an adventure to retrieve mystical cubes that harness their powers.

Once obtained, our team of heroes is suddenly thrust into a memory of past adventures, allowing fans to relive famous arcs from the series. But, things don't always play out as they once did, as one character explains, memories can be a fickle thing.

Instead, players can expect slight variations of classic stories to keep things fresh whilst also instilling feelings of nostalgia. It's a great tool, and one that allows newcomers to One Piece and veterans alike to both get something out of One Piece Odyssey.

The fact that developer ILCA has perfectly balanced its story - which takes place separately from the long-running manga - to allow anyone to jump in and embrace its story is an impressive feat. It doesn't exactly hold your hand and explain every character and relationship built between everyone, but each of the crew's personalities is immediately clear through their actions.

One Piece Odyssey is both a celebration of 25 years of history, as well as a perfect entry point for anyone who has wanted to check out the series. Coupled with many unlockable extras that do more to explore the legacy One Piece has created, it feels like a culmination of everything that has been built up until this point in one nicely crafted package.

As far as the narrative goes, it's fairly standard JRPG fare, and soon settles you into the rhythm of completing different arcs as you visit memories of past worlds.

There's nothing entirely groundbreaking in its execution, and feels more akin to a Dragon Quest story than the darkness of a Final Fantasy, but its bubbly attitude shines throughout, even when the pacing bogs things down from time to time.

Combat steals the show

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Out of everything One Piece Odyssey has to offer, the one element niggling on everyone's minds is the combat. It's clear within the first hour that those reservations were poorly placed, as the game expertly reveals its turn-based combat feels right at home in the One Piece Odyssey. Anyone who has played a turn-based game before will feel right at home, but there are some interesting changes that drastically change the tide of battles.

Characters can use standard attacks or use skills in fights, with the latter being more powerful and flashy. Skills are used by using Tension Points, which are built up from using normal attacks. For anyone who has played previous One Piece games and is afraid the over-the-top movesets from each character will be lost in translation, fear not, these attacks are visually impressive and pack a powerful punch.

Even Robin's Dos Fleur's Grab skill, which will catch an enemy off guard and grab their private parts for devastating effect. You're able to utilise the entire Straw Hat crew in battles at any time. Four of them will be on the battlefield, but you're able to interchange them as if they were Pokemon whenever you feel like.

One Piece Odyssey's combat system operates in a rock-paper-scissors fashion. Every character is embodied with one of three attack types: Power, Speed, and Technique. Each is effective and ineffective to other types, for example, Speed is strong against Technique, but weak against Power.

Moving your characters around like chess pieces to ensure they're tackling the right target ensures combat feels fresh, and the fact that One Piece Odyssey does something extremely interesting with battles. In fights, your team of four will often be separated, meaning two of your heroes could be fighting one set of enemies, while the other two fight another group. It allows for a level of tactility as heroes cannot move from their area whilst enemies block their path.

Players will have to carefully plan battles, as they mix and match their heroes, and utilise skills to not only defeat the foes in front of them, but also assist heroes who may be fighting against an enemy they are weak against. You can do this by swapping a character out with a reserve, or you can utilise a hero's skill from further away to help them out. For example, if Luffy is pinned down, you could use Usopp's Exploding Star Skill, which attacks enemies from afar. 

All of this comes together in a truly engaging combat system that breaks away from being simple JRPG fodder. It allows each character their time to shine as they use their eye-watering skills to dramatic effect. It’s also a great way of celebrating the franchise, as issues of the manga and episodes of the anime will often allow each member of the Straw Hat crew their time in the spotlight.

There's also the inclusion of Dramatic Battles, which are unique conditions that randomly appear in a fight. They may consist of tasking you to take down an enemy before a certain amount of turns or to take a group down before they knock out an enemy. It adds an extra level of tension to battles and rewards you and your group with a plethora of experience if the requirements are met.

For JRPG veterans, combat in One Piece Odyssey is very much on the easier side. While this is great to usher in One Piece fans who are cautious about the big changes made, it would have been appreciated to see a variety of combat difficulties incorporated to provide more of a challenge

A mysterious island

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As mentioned before, the story kicks off once the Straw Hat crew end up marooned on a mysterious island. It's not long before you set off on your adventure and have a truly beautiful world to explore. Honestly, One Piece has never looked this good, and there will be countless occasions where you will be admiring the scenery with your jaw on the floor. It's just a shame there’s no photo mode to capture these moments, as One Piece Odyssey's busy UI clutters the screen.

If you've played a Dragon Quest title, the game's structure will feel extremely similar. Instead of one huge world to explore, everything is segregated into separate zones. There are a few open plains to explore, but for the most part, you'll be exploring offset paths to see everything the game has to offer.

In the opening hours, it can feel oppressively linear, as characters rudely stop you from venturing too far off the beaten path, but once the safety wheels are off, it leans more into a traditional JRPG feeling.

Each character has their own way of interacting with the world, and you can swap between any of them at a moment's notice. Luffy can use his Gum-Gum Rocket ability and use his stretchy arms to traverse hard-to-reach locations, while Chopper's small height can be used to navigate small tunnels where items, collectables, or even shortcuts may reside. 

One Piece Odyssey also boasts some impressive dungeon design. While the structure of them doesn't exactly break the mould the genre has come to know, it does offer room for exploration. Character abilities come into play, such as Luffy's power to break down destructible walls. They're not exactly open in their design, but they do offer players room to scour the environment for hidden chests and cube fragments, which are used to power up each character's skills.

When you're not dungeon crawling, you'll be exploring the outer wilds, which include lush jungle environments all the way to gorgeous sandy deserts. Since One Piece Odyssey takes players through the franchise's history, it allows for more diverse locales to be added that you would usually find in a JRPG.

It's also worth playing the game in graphics mode, since performance mode drastically lowers the resolution and blurs the stunning visuals. Throughout the world, you'll also come across a variety of side quests and bounties to complete.

They're pretty standard in their approach, boiling down to taking down some enemies or finding a particular item, but they are filled with personality due to the expressive and vibrant characters you come across. You won't be swamped with quests at any given time, but they offer you the ability to further level up your characters if you do happen to come across a roadblock in the combat. 

One Piece Odyssey doesn't overstay its welcome either, boasting a playtime of around 30 hours if you just follow the main story. If you want to see everything the game offers, including completing all the side quests and gathering all the collectibles, you're probably looking at doubling that playtime for the full completion.

A bold, new, direction

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Despite some fumbles, One Piece Odyssey is a solid JRPG adventure. It may borrow from long-running series in the genre such as Dragon Quest, but it wears those inspirations on its sleeve and embraces them. The changes it makes to combat creates a truly engaging experience, and one that fans of One Piece will no doubt embrace.

Whether Bandai Namco decides to continue this venture down the JRPG route remains to be seen, but it would be a shame to abandon the solid foundations found in One Piece Odyssey, which has set 2023 off to an incredible start with its high production values, beautiful world, intuitive combat, and wonderful celebration of one of the best mangas to ever be created.


Reviewed on PS5. Code provided by publisher.