Lost Odyssey Preview: Hands-On From the Beginning

We check out the opening act of Hironobu Sakaguchi's next RPG for the Xbox 360.

It's hard to dismiss the pedigree of Lost Odyssey, the latest role-playing game from Mistwalker Studios. Famed Final Fantasy producer Hironobu Sakaguchi is heading the project, and the game's musical score is being provided by another FF alum, the much-loved composer Nobuo Uematsu. Little wonder, then, that despite being powered by the Xbox 360, the nuts and bolts of Lost Odyssey feel very familiar. Having last seen the game at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show, we recently spent some time with an updated build, specifically to see how the first couple of hours of gameplay set the stage for the adventure to come.

Political intrigue looks to play a big role in Lost Odyssey's storyline.

Lost Odyssey begins with a bang, quite literally. After showing an opening cinematic that centers on an epic battle of two warring armies, the camera cuts to a long-haired hero who's doing his best to single-handedly wipe out the opposing forces. In a smooth gameplay cut, you're taken from merely watching the as-yet-unnamed hero to playing as him as he takes out a handful of enemies and then sets his sights on a massive fire-spewing war machine. It's a slick introduction to the turn-based battle system in Lost Odyssey, but as we found out, it's an all-too-short introduction. After the tank enemy is taken down, the sky above literally rips open as a massive meteorite slams onto the battlefield, annihilating everyone in its path.

Well, almost everyone. For reasons explained later, your battle-hardened hero, whose name is Kaim Argonar, survived the meteor strike. As he makes his way across the blasted, desolate landscape, Kaim encounters enemies who've been "changed" by the meteor strike. Combat here serves as an introduction to Lost Odyssey's ring combat system, which lets you arm Kaim and his allies with rings that add powers to their attack or defense. The system also adds a bit more interactivity to combat: During a physical attack, a ring will appear around your opponent, and you need to hold down the right trigger while your character attacks. A second ring will collapse on the first, and when the time is right (that is, the second ring is close to the first), you let go of the trigger. Your timing will determine the relative strength or weakness of your attack. As you progress, you'll be able to build new rings, provided you have the required ingredients, which you'll pick up as you go. New rings mean new powers, such as the ability to add elemental damage to your attacks.

Eventually Kaim manages to find a band of allies from the Uhar army who marvel at his ability to survive a point-blank encounter with a falling meteorite. In true emo fashion, Kaim isn't impressed by much, even his own seeming invulnerability. Kaim and the soldiers hitch a ride on an armored cart, then head back to the Uhar city to regroup. While in transit, Kaim encounters a mysterious girl named Seth who also managed to survive the attack.

Once arriving in the city, Kaim is summoned by the high council to report his findings from the battlefield. This begins a long stretch of gameplay where you find yourself in a city with not much to do but run around and explore. On the positive side, there are plenty of items to find hidden in pots and barrels, even stuck behind what look to be propaganda posters stuck on walls all over town. Before heading to the council, you can take Kaim to the local establishments, including an item shop, whose owner is out on business, and a local inn, where you can catch some sleep.

The first question the council has for Kaim is an obvious one: How did he manage to survive the meteor crash? Kaim doesn't seem to have many answers but another character, Gorgora, does. Apparently Gorgora cast an immortality spell on Kaim, though Kaim doesn't seem to remember this spell. The council immediately recognizes the advantage of having an immortal operative; thus, Kaim and Seth are sent on a mission to check out the disturbance at Grand Staff, which is a magic research facility located in the Sea of Baus not far from the city.

It seems that Gorgora is more than he appears in Lost Odyssey because shortly after Kaim is assigned on the Grand Staff mission, he is placed under house arrest. When Kaim visits him at his house, Gorgora assigns a magic user named Jansen to accompany Kaim and Seth on their mission. Jansen, unlike the other two, is a mortal. In Lost Odyssey, mortal characters can learn new skills simply by leveling up; immortals, on the other hand, don't learn new skills when their levels increase. However, by linking their skills with a mortal, immortals can learn new skills. For example, linking Kaim to Jansen will allow him to learn both white and black magic spells or the steal ability, which Jansen already possesses. After a few battles, Jansen will learn level-two black magic, whereas Kaim will earn level-one black magic.

As the trio heads off toward Grand Staff, the roles each plays in the story become clear. Kaim is the dour hero, a stringy-haired badass who is all about the mission; Seth is the good-natured, wide-eyed flirt; and Jansen is the comic relief. How they fit into battle, however, will be up to you; thanks not only to the aforementioned skill system, which will let you customize your characters' skills, but also the formation system. Final Fantasy games have distinguished between characters on the "front" and "back" line, but in Lost Odyssey, that distinction is made all the more explicit. Meters on the upper left- and right-hand side of the screen point out a party's front line strength, which is calculated as a total of the hit points of characters set on the front row. Front-row characters act as a buffer for those in the rear of the formation, so it's a good idea to put your weaker characters in the back. However, once the front line is destroyed, those characters in the back won't have any further protection.

The mightiest demons, the cutest little girls, the strongest hair gel products: Nothing can affect Kaim's emo haircut.

The road to Grand Staff begins in the forest outside of town, where the party will randomly encounter enemies who are really no match for the power of the party. If the main characters in Lost Odyssey are reminiscent of Final Fantasy characters--with frilly outfits, outrageous weapons, and intricate armor--then the enemies are doubly so, ranging from vicious-looking plant life to miniature spear-wielding soldiers wearing helmets that give them a distinctive mushroom-like appearance. As the party trudges up a mountain range in search of Grand Staff, it will encounter biting rain showers and, at the peak, a huge griffon-like creature that provides the first real test of the party's combat skills.

With elaborate visuals (and lots and lots of depth-of-field visual tricks), Lost Odyssey certainly looks like an Xbox 360 RPG, even if it plays like something a bit older. Nonetheless, the tried-and-true approach of Sakaguchi has proven to be a winning formula. One thing's for sure, you won't be at a loss for things to do in Lost Odyssey: The game will come on four discs when it lands on store shelves next month. That's means a ton of content for Kaim and his crew to battle their way through. Stay tuned for more on the game in the coming weeks.

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Discussion

392 comments
ShaunFroggatt
ShaunFroggatt

Better then FF in just about everyway, the only reason it didnt get a 9 is coz the titles isnt FF **** you gamespot

HollowZangetsu
HollowZangetsu

lol sweet its going to be way better then blue dragon(which was good)and will have a good quest line with many weapons and spells(which seem confusing)I can't wait to get it.

b33zy
b33zy

this game is soo awesome!!! fantastic storyline

squallzxyz
squallzxyz

Oooooo, Lost Odyssey is looking to be another awesome game which shall be overlooked by the 'I need to kill something in the first 5 minutes or it sucks' crowd just like Blue Dragon which I consider to be a great game as well... Ok. Now everyone start screaming "Mass Effect and Oblivion are the perfect rpgs!!!" like a bunch of brain dead zombies! Never mind, you are right, only 360 games exist in this age... There never was a Final Fantasy series, nor K.O.T.O.R., nor Shin Megami Tensei, nor Kingdom Hearts, nor Breath of Fire, nor Dragon Quest, not even Neverwinter Nights. There was only shooting stuff while upgrading like mad and saying you won't accept the mission to kill sareth or also escorting an emperor to safety until he dies and you need to go find his blood relative while doing 100s of faction quests, then possibly raiding a lost tomb. Tch, I know I am coming off as 'holier than thou' but the latest rpgs everyone is in love with has to allow you to put a bullet/arrow in every npc's head whether good or bad and pretending that having such freedom is all that matters in modern rpgs.

-Napoleon-
-Napoleon-

another lame japanese RPG not worth picking up. Well at least it'll show sony that they arent the only people that can make japanese games. i still dont think there's gonna be any RPG that comes close to mass effect, untill the next Elder Scrolls, or when they finally decide to make a Kotor 3 (wink wink boiware, im still waiting)

Lindsay_08
Lindsay_08

So many RPG's so little time (and money) im still getting over oblivion STUFF THAT IN UR PIPE N SMOKE IT SONY!!! HAHA! i

bennae66
bennae66

just bought it the other day and its a fantastic rpg. alot of ppl are talking about devil may cry but i got this instead and no regrets at all. many sleepless nights creating rings and customising characters.

Hey_Cage
Hey_Cage

Hehheh, "The dour hero, a stringy haired badass who's all about the mission." Awesome, can't wait another two days for this game, looks to be a great old-school, next-gen RPG. Bout damn time the 360 got a game like this!

socialninjitsu
socialninjitsu

"actually it's four dvd's which are more than 6 time the size of a cd... so thats like 8 Final Fantasy 7's" I hope that's at least a little sarcastic. Remember, Blue Dragon = three dvd's = still about the same length as 1(one) playthrough of final fantasy 7. Dmac4330, I feel ya. You totally CAN taste the flavor of a game before it comes out, by sifting through the preview content and getting a feel toward where it's leaning. Skeptics of this just can't pick up on it, and they'd be surprised at how often it could disprove them. Unarguably, this looks like it will be an amazing RPG. My only foreboding sense is that I will get hooked and it will end before I've had enough. That said, this finally looks like a worthwhile classical rpg for this gen. But it's hard to trust yet, since "next gen" has unfailingly disappointed on every Adventure and RPG. It has even birthed the ultimate sin; Watering down classic ARPGs into shooters for the attention-deficit majority, instead of having ANYTHING to do with the original game. (Alas, ShadowRun, you bastard. A good shooter, but having nothing to do with the classic ARPG series whos name it ripped off, or even the 'shadow runs' that were its MAIN story. The classic games, look them up.) Of course, different flavors, but the point is the same. No classical RPG has been safe from murder this generation. As for Blue Dragon, I LOVED it's exploration and power-ups, for adding so much depth to those traditions without breaking their feel. But as so many of you mentioned, the childish parts and short length ruined this and were its downfall. Lost Odyssey in comparison looks even more deep yet traditional, without the hangups. I definitely want to hope this is the graphics-intense Final Fantasy ripoff I always wanted, but will guard my excitement till I see for sure.

willie699
willie699

I own a Playstation 3 and an Xbox 360 and i must admit that im looking forward to this game with more anticipation than i did for FF12 mainly due to the fact it sticking with the good old turn based sysytem. Some might say its simplistic, and it is, but its also the system that defined one of the best, or even the greatest IMO game franchise there has been...(FF). Also, off topic, I dont understand the criticism the PS3 is getting. I remember when i first got the Xbox360 and i was stuck with Perfect Dark Zero, the dissapointment. I reckon the real race between the two consoles is gonna begin later this year. (Im a european gamer so ive gotta wait sometime for some titles)

Dmac4330
Dmac4330

Ok, for all the skeptics, I am also a skeptic on video games. I have to say My Judgement in pre-shown Video games is very on, when it comes to the Genre I am most interested in. That goes especially for FPS, all Real Time and turn base RPG's, Real Time Stratagies, and Sport Games. Just a side note but Sport games are getting too repetitive and un-fun. Anyways, I knew Blue Dragon was not going to be that good, and I was correct. I also knew that Enchanted Arms was going to be ok, but nothing new. Now Eternal Sonata I thought was going to be kind of cheesy yet fun, and it was, but I apprecieted it more because of the way it "tried" to incorperate an old famous musician. If you did not like it at al it was probably because you did not appreciate that aspect. This game, Lost Odessy, seem to be like FF like the critics have said and by looking at it. It is awsome that it will be 4 cd's long, even knowing there is going to be alot of cutsceens, but I think the Cutsceens will be worth it. It maybe shorter that what people might want for the amount of CD's you get, but I am sure it will be long enough for the price you will buy the game, with 4 cd's. I Believe It won't be the best game on earth, but because of the excitement of it coming onto 360 and it being like a FF game, many people will cherrish it and be hopefull for more games like this and maybe even sequals and prequals of Lost Odesey. I am anticipating the release, and saving my money for this New RPG.

Vrygar777
Vrygar777

Xplay gave this a 3 out of 5, for being to simplistic..... What do they want? Mass effect takes care of real time RPG's and Oblivion. Sure it could have a little more diversity in the combat system. NOTHING can be simple anymore can it?(excluding SSB:B, its OK).

selftaughtman
selftaughtman

I ALREADY have this game as it was released in NZ a few days ago. Basically, they have taken STOLEN EVERYTHING that's good about final fantasy games in the past and have made an RPG for the xbox. Normally I would critisize a company for that, but I liove final fantasy and am happy considering I don't have a PS3. Other problems include frame rate, and crashes. However, the game has stopped crashing since I stood my x-box up. Load times aren't so bad (compared to oblivion the load times are quite fast.) I am enjoying the story and am only 6 hours through at this stage (haven't finished disk 1 yet) and am enjoying pacing myself through the hours of deep storyline to come. Finally, don't expect a perfect 10 for this game my friends. The combat system is far too simplistic and the other minor issues I have pointed out are going to take away from giving anything better than a 9. However, this is by far the best old school RPG I have seen for the 360.

ossamesa
ossamesa

hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha roflbbqmao, a critical on themselves hahahhahahahahahaha, ohhhh god that was good, but ya this would be a great game

ananda81
ananda81

My most anticipated game!! ....Needless to say: I can't wait!!! XD

keldog
keldog

He couldn't be emo, if he was he would have never left his mom's basement unless there was a sale at Hot Topic. Either way, emo people would never use there swords on others, just to cut themselves. It would be cool if an emo kid would get a 'critical hit' on themselves. :)

Ry5h3
Ry5h3

actually it's four dvd's which are more than 6 time the size of a cd... so thats like 8 Final Fantasy 7's

Vrygar777
Vrygar777

Maybe it does have a lot of HD videos, but your forgetting who were dealing with. Maybe the game might be short but who knows, there might be plenty of side quests to explore, that or it might just be fun to stat build. Ithink though either way because of the "mature" theme of the game,(Over Bluedragon being sorta cartoonish) it should keep us hooked. Who knows though, maybe we're all being hopefull but still, with such good RPG's that have been on the market you'd think he'd be smart enough to learn from example.(Mass Effect, FF12, Oblivion,etc.) But yeah socialninjitsu I believe that your prediction is probably most accurate.

gamer-clemm
gamer-clemm

FOUR DISCS! Oblivion takes almost 200 hours on one disc and Lost Odyssey is on four, that like 100,000,000 hours of gameplay or something!!! WOW!!

FatalFist
FatalFist

I've heard its all the HD videos they have put...remember after all that we are talking abt the guy who produced FF...he probably loves the HD videos

socialninjitsu
socialninjitsu

"4 disks? thats a lot of data, just think how long. As reference look at oblivion, one disk and 200 hours" You can't use oblivion as a reference though. Sadly, Oblivion's length per disk is often TEN TIMES that of the games we actually want more of. Blue Dragon = 20 hours per. Disk-space (and development time) wasn't focused on actual playable content, but cut scenes that hog space. This was a cool gimmick in PS1 days. Now it just hogs space and gives you false hope. I feel you though. I want it to be long too. I bet it will, however, be stupidly short for 4 disks. Like MAYBE 80 hrs. Remember, I predicted it first. Every 'next gen' game that's uber-powerful has been short. We either get production quality OR length. That's called a "negative trend" and it seems like this generation FEEDS on sticking to them. I truly hope I'm wrong and we finally get a long ubergame. I'm not stupid enough to be hopeful or hold my breath though.

ossamesa
ossamesa

in part it keeps being the 360 year, well also for the ps3, with the upcoming turok, lost odyssey, force unleashed, gta iv and devil may cry 4, later well get tiberium, ninja gaiden 2, fable 2. gears of war 2, and so on, but focusing on this game, i just want producers stick with the ff formula, i really like it, specyally for ff VII and VIII, the ps ones, i really liked em

Vrygar777
Vrygar777

Oh yeah and plus, has anyone ever took a look at the last remnant? I do like SE but still, them choosing to stay loyal to sony just mightve been a big mistake, but who knows. The PS3 is now the same price as the 360 so maybe 2008 might be Sonys year, we all know late 2007 was Microsofts(Bioshock, Mass Effect, Halo, etc.)

Vrygar777
Vrygar777

This game better be a revolution. Sony fanboys always brag about there precious FF13, but I have high hopes for this. Sure it may not have the glorious and might Square Enix trade mark but my goodness, a lot of other less known publishers have made great RPG's.

tlbaby24
tlbaby24

alright, i've read through a lot of articles about this game, but all i want to know is if there is gonna be GFs in the game or anything close to them??? someone just give me a yes or no answer!! please!!!

1einhart
1einhart

i hope u can get some nice animated skills...

anthonylucas
anthonylucas

Blue Dragon was a huge dissapointment, I was deeply dissapointed. It was 3 disks and SHORT. HOPEFULLY this is the complete opposit of that game. I am a huge RPG fan, i've played them since the days of Nintendo. Hopefully im impressed.

ossamesa
ossamesa

wth!!!!!!!!! 4 disks???????? dang thats a lot of data, jost think how long does it takes to complete the game, just as reference look at oblivion, one disk of over 200 hours of gameplay

speed45823
speed45823

This guys not emo. He's just battle weary. After what he has experienced in 1000 years, theres no more surprise for him but there are plenty of surprises for you...u'll c...

ineedanap
ineedanap

I'm sooooo picking this here game up! And "emo" haircut? Please.....

Fang_lord
Fang_lord

this looks cool, hope its similar but different from FF, cos tbh, im bored of FF, its went down hill since FF8 imo.

NukeU
NukeU

looks good. very good.

speed45823
speed45823

btw, this game is not like Blue Dragon. It far excceds that. This is a more matured game with A LOTS OF depth. (Trust me on that) This game is like an interactive movie. Its just that good.

speed45823
speed45823

This game is good. I've been playing it for 13 hours...in just 2 days. Its addictive. The story is obviously great thanks to Hironobu Sakaguchi. Gameplay is also cool with a few twists and turns. One thing for sure...u gotta be prepared for combat cause u'll never guess whats gonna come next. The english voice acting works well and has a natural vibe to it. This game could be close to if not better than the Final Fantasy series. 9 out of 10.

dbags007
dbags007

hes not emo, what are these idiots talkin bout? apparently emo is now anybody that has hair and doent jump around like a powerpuff girl. i sense some green eyed monster in your article brian.ff and rpgs in general are all about emotion, and emotional journeys.... that is what makes em so great

Argetpheonix
Argetpheonix

i know i am kinda copying the person with the first post but...4 DISKS?!?!?...it has got to be a LONG game...it looks awsome...and i know i have already said this but 4 DISCS?!?!? i am not complaining just a little stuned...O_O but i am happy :)

1einhart
1einhart

Cant wait anymore.............

giyanks22
giyanks22

I hope this doesn't disapoint like Mass effect

Sireph
Sireph

Oh, they better not f**k this up...

bin-hiding
bin-hiding

man i cant wait for a good RPG to be released on the 360, after the first disapointments blue dragon and enchanted arms, this game looks to be the first great RPG for the system, but then again you really cant go wrong with Hironobu, that man's a freaking genious

AnDrEwH2oPkiLlr
AnDrEwH2oPkiLlr

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

AnDrEwH2oPkiLlr
AnDrEwH2oPkiLlr

look this game is going to be kick ass cuz blue dragon was horrible and the eternal sonata waz bad nd echanted arms waz OK so cant wait for this **** game

Buttduck
Buttduck

Turn based ='s no problem. I'm super stoked to have this in a few weeks!

gacmyver
gacmyver

Oh, am a Playstation fanboi and I feel so sad that my most beloved producer along with the most ultimate uber limit break music composer went Xbox :( However, I guess they made alot of money so I'm happy you guys on the Xbox gets a decent rpg! Although in truth, I don't think this game will be as good as the final fantasy games (which always gets insanely big development time, budget and staff). The only thing I think will match is the music (because Nobuo is Nobuo!) Will keep an eye on this game to see how it turns out even though I probably won't ever get to play it (nor have the time... mgs4+ff13 = no time)

newb16
newb16

To tell you the trewth I havent played an rpg looking and playing this good in a very long time . I miss playing japanese RPG games, good ol playstaion and SNESS games.

marco0798
marco0798

skydancerofchao finaly someone who knows what he is talking about. everyone is always looking for new and "fresh" and all they get is rubbish how about u look for story and good old fationed gameplay since if u want to have crazy battles go out and buy a FPS.

habit0422
habit0422

Well Said skydancerofchao, todays RPG's can still use the battle systems of the past and still be great. I'm looking forward to this game to, the only knock I have against it is that I believe it uses a random encounter system like past RPG's where you don't see the enemy that you encounter, like in past FF's. Other than that looking good.

skydancerofchao
skydancerofchao

Why is it that all anyone seems to care about it whether or not this game is turn-based? I hate to tell you all this, but traditional rpg's are ALL turn-based. Who the freak cares if its "new" or "fresh." How about something that is GOOD, regardless of whether its tried and true? I've been playing rpg's for 20 years now and I HOPE this game is turn-based thank you very much! Anyways, this game seriously looks sick as all hell and it actually has a pretty creative story for the genre these days. I might be a PS3 fanboy, but I can't wait to get my grubby little mits on this bad boy as soon as it comes out. Oh yeah, and anyone who said FFXII sucks must have been either drunk or high the entire 40-50 hours it took to complete it ;]