Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Ragnarok Odyssey Ace Review (PS Vita)

Ragnarok Odyssey Ace is a blast from the past
Written by Drei Medina

Nostalgia sells.
There's nothing more nostalgic for former Ragnarok Online players than trying out the first few stages of Ragnarok Odyssey Ace which for me is what Ragnarok Online 2 should have been but never materialized into.
Ragnarok Odyssey Ace follows the story of a mercenary (you) supported by a band who battles against Giants to prevent them from gaining access to the Gods of Asguard through a legendary bridge called the Bifrost.
The game is basically Ragnarok Online (RO) turned into 3D minus the online MMORPG gameplay with a different story but same setting.
Heck, you're even near Prontera, the capital city in RO though you'll never visit it ingame.
And remember the angelwing? Well it's an available headgear to craft in Ace. Actually, all the headgears there are lifted directly from the game's online cousin which packs a punch filled with nostalgia making you want to cry manly (or girly) tears.
Other popular headgears you can craft are the devilwing, deviruchi hat and elven ears to name a few. And of course don't forget that annoying and smelly poop hat.
The game's outfits similarly scream Ragnarok Online when in fact they are the outfits of the classes of the said game.
So if you had a blast being a swordsman, or a mage in RO you could relive your RO glory days by donning one of these outfits. Of course some of the higher class outfits are available.
Veteran RO players will also feel familiar with most items, particularly materials like Elunium, Oridecon and Jellopy which allow you to refine weapons and expand outfit card slots.
I would say that around 65-70% of the monsters in Ace are from RO starting with the iconic poring which you encounter during your first quest.
Long time fans will also be delighted to see familiar foes like the spore, raydric, deviruchi and skeleton soldier.
There are also a ton of old bosses like the Orc King (Orc Lord), Orc Hero and Hati which were made into mini bosses for Ace.
Most of the main bosses however are characters I don't recognize but I'm glad to reveal that one of the final bosses is a rare mob from RO though not considered as a boss (Hint: Glast Heim).
Meanwhile, some of the NPC's are 3D dopplegangers of their 2D counterparts in RO namely the 6 Quest Kafra's in Ace who are storage Kafras from each town in RO.
As if this is not enough nostalgia, RO's BGMs are also available for purchase in one of the item stores ingame which you can assign as your background music during quests, epic boss fights or even just as your town music.
But nostalgia isn't the only selling point for Ace. The game displays a vibrant environment enhanced by the Vita's OLED screen which is a feast for the eyes just waiting to admired.
Just imagine your pretty dream girl enhanced by photoshop – or not, but well you get my point. Ace is already nice made better by the Vita's OLED system.
The background really pops out especially in the beautiful grass-filled open area where you get to battle one of the early giant bosses, Hraesvelgr.
Character designs, clothing, NPCs and monsters are also well done and clean. There doesn't seem to be any problems with the incredible graphics of the game running on Vita.
But there are a few times when slowdown might be experienced though this rarely affected my gameplay save for one when I was battling a boss.
The biggest bummer I see in the game is its lack of a solid story and free roam mode though both could be ignored especially if you're a former player of RO since the nostalgia more than compensates for it.
However, if you're new to the Ragnarok world then you will definitely find getting quests at the same counter over and over again to be boring most of the time.
I have to agree with others that there should have been some sort of free roam mode where you at least go to other towns to get or submit quests just to give players some fresh air from the fortress setting.
As for the story, it's quite lackluster. There's nothing new, no twists at all. I don't even think there's an actual plot to the story.
It's always just a group of monsters or a giant is attacking so you have to get rid of them. Rinse and repeat until the final boss. Honestly it was disappointing.
Combat-wise, Ace offers challenging quests and boss fights to the point that some players have furiously vented on online forums expressing the difficulties they've encountered in Ace.
Personally, I think the game was tedious and dragging. Some quests and bosses were too easy while some were downright difficult and tested your gaming mettle.
But it's all doable with enough patience and dodging skills since the game is pretty much skill-based where you have to memorize the attack patterns of foes especially bosses that do one-hit-kill-skills.
I've also heard the game is like a crossover between Kingdom Hearts and Monster Hunter and I have to agree with the former but not the latter since I haven't experienced playing it yet to be able to compare.
All in all I would recommend this game especially to former RO players. The game is a visual masterpiece on the Vita that provides probably at least 30 hours of gameplay (I finished mine in 60 hours with 30 hours inside quests and the other 30 outside quests).
Even though the story is close to nonexistent the combat makes up for this with its solid and challenging quests.
I just wished they didn't recycle bosses every other quest so often and placed in Baphomet, Drake and Dark Lord somewhere in Ace.

The verdict: 8/10 [good game]

Ragnarok Odyssey Ace is a visually seductive game with enjoyable and at times challenging combat paired with above average playtime though story is lacking and elements of repetitiveness may be felt during the end.
The game offers a perfect rendition of the would have been Ragnarok Online 2 and is a must buy for RO fans.

+ Gorgeous graphics
+ Challenging quests
+ Nostalgic experience
- Stale story
- Recycled mobs
- Slowdown issue