Dual Review: Ragnarok Odyssey ACE | PS Vita
Ragnarok Odyssey hit the shelves in 2012 and was labeled as the Monster Hunter for Vita. With huge shoes to fill, the game didn’t necessarily stand up to its billing. It performed decently though, especially for being on a system that has had its bumps and bruises along the way. Jump forward to April 1, 2014, and we have Ragnarok Odyssey Ace. With various enhancements from new “Ace Skills” to master and unleash on your foes to the Tower of Yggdrail, an end game tower with 200 randomly generated levels; can this upgraded version find an audience?
Ragnarok Odyssey Ace is an Action-RPG which excels in the action category but misses the mark as a strong RPG. When starting Ace, you are faced with the choice of choosing between six classes: Mage, Cleric, Hammersmith, Hunter, Swordsmen and Assasin, all with their inherent strengths and weaknesses. This choice, often times an integral part in a standard Action-RPG because they will be your only character until the end, is of almost no consequence because you have the ability to change classes between missions. Once selecting your character, you are able to customize him or her with a plethora of new options. Onward to the fighting!
The fighting mechanics in Ace are fast and furious and, sans a wonky camera angle at times and a frame rate drop here and there, exceedingly fun, at first anyway. When dispatching monsters, you unleash deadly combos via the triangle and circle button that complement your chosen character. Once you defeat enough enemies to fill up your tension bar, you can unleash Dainsleif. When triggering Dainsleif mode, you won’t have to wait to chain combos, you don’t lose AP (stamina) and you cannot be stunned. Sounds like God mode right? Not quite, the catch is that your health continuously decreases if you aren’t dealing damage. Once completing the parameters for the quest (the typical RPG fetch quest: go kill that enemy or bring X amount of this item), you are sent back to rummage through the junk. And there is a ton of it. Interestingly enough, fighting through dungeon after dungeon doesn’t give you experience points. Instead you are given cards that have various effects that you place on your character. Only once you complete the 10 missions in that section do you level up your character. By taking that route, the game bogs down in sections that have difficulty spikes.
Having said that, the game is dreadfully easy in its first couple sections, you will go through the same levels, killing the same enemies, earning essentially the same loot, which becomes monotonous sooner rather than later. The shame in that is that the boss battles, typically the last level in the section, are quite enjoyable. They are tough but rewarding once figuring out how to defeat them, and they usually have some nice loot in tow. When the harder levels and boss battles do come to the fore front, you can hire a mercenary. The mercenaries, paid at the completion of the mission, definitely help just not in the way you’d expect. Where it’d be nice if they didn’t run directly into their death beds, they do work as a distraction while you take care of other enemies. Where Ace, and its predecessor redeem themselves is in online play. Playing with a partner, or up to four, helps cut through the monotony of fetch quests. Having actual component compatriots allows you to actually strategize and juggle enemies until their deaths. After playing alongside your friends, it’ll be a dreadful, lonely feeling having to play solo.
That is Ragnarok Odyssey Ace in a nutshell. If you’ve played the former Ragnarok and enjoyed it, you will without a doubt enjoy this new rendition. Although little in the way of drastic change, the game does add some nice ways to extend the gameplay. Tower of Yggdrail will leave you grinding for hours upon hours and having the ability to transfer your character over and keep your hard-earned cards is nice. It makes this game seem like more of an extension than anything else. The idea to add a cross-save feature is nice, but the game feels much more at home on the Vita than on PS3. Ragnarok Odyssey Ace seems like a perfect $20 expansion that instead is being strangled with a $40 price tag on PS3 and $34.99 on Vita.
* All images taken via the Vita’s screenshot function.